Flexi Truck technology is at the heart of sportswear wholesaler’s storage system revamp 

Founded in 1984, Focus International Ltd is a leading sportswear and sports equipment wholesaler. Part of the JD Group, Focus’s portfolio of European operational locations includes a substantial warehouse facility located close to the M25 motorway in St Albans, Hertfordshire. 

With consistent growth driving increased throughput at the St Albans site, Focus needed additional storage space and more pick faces. The company’s existing storage system was based on traditional narrow aisle pallet racking, but this was no longer delivering the capacity nor the order picking flexibility that Focus required to keep pace with its rapidly evolving business model.

Following a comprehensive site survey, in-depth data analysis and system modeling, Focus opted to introduce a multi-tier picking structure that incorporates both static and dynamic carton flow storage. The design of the storage solution not only delivers the flexibility that Focus sought, but has also increased overall storage capacity at the St Albans facility by in the region of 40 per cent.

Focus International’s St Albans site is now served by Flexi Truck articulated warehouse truck technology manufactured by Cold Chain Federation member Narrow Aisle Ltd, based in Tipton, West Midlands.

Incoming ISO shipping containers arrive and are de-stuffed with goods transferred through the loading bays, where they are assigned a position within the unit’s bulk store by Focus’s warehouse management system (WMS). They are collected before being delivered to the correct pallet location and put-away by the Flexi Trucks. The Flexi Trucks are also used to pick and transfer replenishment stock to the extensive new pick area which is located adjacent to the bulk store within the existing building. The Flexi is unique in that it can carry out all these materials handling processes across the facility, which means each truck is highly utilised during the whole working day. 

The Flexi Trucks deployed at Focus International’s St Albans warehouse feature digital electric motor technology that allows all independent drive, hydraulic and unique power-steering motor functions to be controlled digitally. The technology ensures productive and safe  performance throughout the working day and, for each pallet moved, electric charging costs are 20 per cent less than competing systems.

“The digital independent steering system at the heart of the latest Flexi Truck models deliver much lower battery energy consumption and higher productivity combined with significantly reduced maintenance costs. Its VNA space saving aisle functionality and ability to work both inside the aisles and outside around the building, makes the Flexi concept the ideal choice for Focus’s site,” says John Maguire, managing director of Narrow Aisle Ltd. 

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