Ilke Homes’ store benefits from Flexi technology
Since its launch a little over two years ago, Ilke Homes has become one of the UK’s leading manufacturers of modular houses. From its 250,000 sq. ft factory in Yorkshire, the company is capable of producing some 2,000 homes a year with designs ranging from traditionally styled terraced properties to large ultra-modern family dwellings.
In simple terms Ilke build complete homes – including fixtures and fittings – within the factory unit. From start to finish it takes just seven days to complete a property and six homes come off the production line every day ready to be transported to their final location.
The offsite modular building process that Ilke specialise in is said to offer speed, cost and environmental advantages over traditional construction methods and, such has been Ilke’s success, that in 2018 one of the company’s designs won a Sunday Times British Homes Award and in 2019 Ilke was shortlisted for the Spectator magazine’s ‘Economic Disruptor of the Year’ award.
To keep pace with its impressive growth Ilke relies on an ultra-efficient supply chain and the company’s Yorkshire factory is served by a 5,000 sq. ft storage facility where hundreds of different components used in the building process – ranging from plug points to windows and doors – are held ready to be called off and transferred to the factory when required.
The component parts logistics centre is located on the same site as Ilke’s factory and the layout and handling system deployed within the building was designed by Yorkshire-based storage solutions specialist, Big Box Group.
Given the diverse and often bulky or awkwardly shaped nature of the building products that are stored within the warehouse facility, Big Box opted for a combination of adjustable pallet racking (APR) and cantilever racking throughout. At its highest point the top beam of the racking is 10 metres high and the aisles are 2100mm wide .
Within the store Flexi articulated truck technology from Cold Chain Federation member Narrow Aisle Ltd is deployed to carry out all put away and picking tasks.
At the initial planning phase of the project, a man-up guided handling system was considered. However, this option required an expensive upgrade of the building’s floor to enable the man-up truck to function safely and efficiently – unlike Flexi articulated truck technology which is able to operate at optimum efficiency on surfaces that do not need to meet Category 1 flooring standards.
Another benefit that the Flexi has over man-up lateral stackers is the fact that the Flexi can work both inside the building and outside in the yard. This means that time consuming and costly double handling is avoided because just one machine is required to unload incoming delivery vehicles and deliver inventory directly to the designated location in the racking.
The Flexi in operation at Ilke Homes’ warehouse is one of the new generation Flexi ACiON models recently launched by Narrow Aisle.
Flexi ACiON trucks feature digital electric motor technology that allows drive, hydraulic and independent power-steering motors functions to be controlled digitally to ensure the most productive and energy-efficient performance throughout the working day. The technology also extends battery shift life by over 15% on one charge.
For optimum efficiency and operational safety, the truck features a programmable height selection system and a load weight monitor.
In addition, the truck’s integrated tilting carriage and fixed mast design eliminates mast sway and enhances the truck’s high lift stability. This means pallets can be picked and put-away on the top beam of the highest racking smoothly, safely and efficiently.
The truck is also equipped with ‘reverse proximity sensors’ that provide a clear audible and visual indication when approaching any object, which is especially useful when manoeuvring at rack aisle ends.
Big Box Intralogistics’ Iain Gillard comments: “With no feeder trucks required, the Flexi VNA truck is the ideal handling solution for Ilke Homes. Optimum throughput speeds and significant cost reductions are being achieved thanks to the Flexi’s ability to operate on any surface inside or out that allows Ilke to eliminate double handling.”
Narrow Aisle’s managing director, John Maguire, commented: “The Flexi offers the perfect solution for warehouses where fast throughput capability and narrow aisle storage density are required. Ilke are benefiting from the space and throughput efficiency that Flexi articulated truck technology brings and we are delighted to be working with them.”
Big Box Intralogistics delivered the turnkey solution on time and within budget.