Family-owned Belle Group, based in Derbyshire, is using two new Linde trucks, both equipped with hydraulically controlled extending forks for operation in double deep racking. The R14 reach truck and E16 compact electric counterbalance truck have capacities of 1.4 and 1.6 tonne respectively and can lift to over four metres.
Belle manufactures an extensive range of over 100 different types of machinery, and employs over 200 people on the Derbyshire site. When Belle came to Linde needing a logistics solution to meet the growing demands of the business, Linde Sterling, a Linde national network company responsible for the north-west and north Wales, took on the challenge. Belle Group has been trading for over 50 years and has an annual turnover approaching £40m. When founder Doug Blackhurst wanted to buy a cement mixer to help build his new house, no small portable cement mixers existed, so he set about designing his own. The result is the famous Belle Mini Mixer. The business now offers a wide range of products specialising in key areas of construction, from mixing, compaction and sawing through to hydraulic power packs and breakers; and has become the number one mixer manufacturer and is striving to emulate this position throughout the light construction range. Dominic Lewis, Linde Sterling’s area sales manager, spent time with the Belle team to establish a complete understanding of its materials handling needs in order to develop solutions that met the demands of the business. Belle is a rapidly growing company, which needed a solution to speed up delivery time to customers. Belle usually run a single shift, then extending to 24 hours over two shifts to cover peak demands during the building season, March to September. On average Belle are despatching about 2,500 cement mixers a week alongside the other range of products. However, with the gradual growth of its export business Belle can now smooth the demands more easily over the year. Carl Gibbs, logistic manager at Belle Group, commented that the relationship with Linde is more than just a simple supplier-customer arrangement. “It is a long-term business relationship for us because we need a reliable and responsive service that can help provide solutions in an ever changing operational environment.”
The new trucks not only set the standards of comfort and performance, combined with outstanding safety when operating in narrow aisles, but the extending forks enabled the installation of double deep racking in the factory. “This provided a solution almost overnight,” explains Carl. “It has fundamentally changed our operations and we can continue to control the location of stock through double deep racking, but still locate it quickly whilst using our factory space much more efficiently.” Belle operates a total of seventeen Linde trucks throughout the factory and warehouse carrying out an assortment of tasks ranging from load transfer to storage and retrieval to vehicle loading and unloading. These include both electric and engine powered counterbalance trucks as well as pallet trucks and stackers. Carl concludes, “Service is vital to our business and with Linde Sterling we receive a reliable and quick response that reduces downtime and allows us to focus on looking after our own customers’ needs.”