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While not widely known in the US, the beers and ales produced by the Timothy Taylor brewery are among the most popular in the UK.
Since 1863, the company has been producing a wide variety of award-winning beverages at its Knowle Spring Brewery in Keighley, Yorkshire. And while business has grown dramatically in the past 162 years, the size of the facility has not.
So the brewery’s owners needed to find a unique forklift solution that allowed the facility to maintain its ambitious production schedule while minimizing storage space, noise, and vehicle downtime.
A Warehouse without Racks
Like most beers, Timothy Taylor’s brews are best enjoyed fresh. It takes about a week to produce their products from start to finish. But the moment the fermentation and maturing process is finished, the clock starts ticking on their product’s quality.
That’s one of the reasons there are no racks in the brewery’s warehouse. Instead, kegs are stacked on the floor using specially designed locator boards to heights up 13 feet high. Keg beer is only stored for a brief period before it is shipped off to consumers.
So workers driving forklifts carrying up to 18 kegs of beer at a time needed to be able to move in and out of the warehouse’s narrow 200-feet long aisles quickly and efficiently, continually switching out fresh kegs for those earmarked for customers.
Narrow Aisle Forklifts to the Rescue
The brewery opted for Flexi AC range forklifts fitted with Zapi AC motor controllers and Schabmuller electric motors. The vehicles were chosen for their faster work cycles and extended service life, according to Nick Berkovits, Timothy Taylor’s second brewer.
“We initially opted for Flexi articulated forklift truck technology in our cask storage warehouse as long ago as 2003 and have recently replaced our original Flexi truck with a new more advanced model from the Flexi AC range,” Berkovits said in a company news release.
Noise and Turbulence Reduction
The specialized forklifts also are fitted with low-turbulence hydraulic pumps, which significantly reduce noise levels and eliminate the bumpy ride that can reduce the quality of freshly brewed beer.
They also have premium “Finger Treaded” cushioned rubber tires produced by Continental to further ensure the smoothest possible journey as their products travel from brewery to warehouse.
Another concern was keeping vehicles in service for as long as possible. In the past, switching out batteries so they could be recharged was not only slow and cumbersome but dangerous. Batteries had to be removed using slings and chains, increasing the risk for fall or other potentially hazardous accident.
But the new Flex AC forklifts are fitted with longer lasting batteries that can be removed simply and efficiently at low levels from the rear of the vehicle by an operator using nothing but a hand jack or another forklift.
Not only is the process much faster — a new type of charger brings batteries to full charge in less than half the time of traditional systems — but it eliminates the risk of the battery being dropped.