Flexilift narrow forklift: Rugged for oil production

Supplier: Flexilift Australia By: Val Pavlovic
04 February, 2010

Flexi G4 VNA (Very Narrow Aisle) lift truck recently released in Australia has some unique properties.

Recently, it slotted seamlessly into a demanding role in oil production circles – proving it has the all-round capabilities to handle not just narrow work aisles but also rugged conditions.

Distributed in Australia by Flexilift Australia, Flexi has released its latest model which can operate in aisles as thin as 1642mm, or outside in depot yards.

It was two such models that were delivered by the UK-based OEM, Flexi, to West Africa's largest independent oil producer's warehouse in Nigeria, Addax Petroleum.

This operator encountered similar challenges to petroleum companies and other operators in harsh conditions and turned to this specific forklift to handle spare parts and consumables used in the oil and gas exploration work undertaken throughout Nigeria.
As it is at comparable businesses in Australia, space is limited in the warehouse and all palletised loads at the site are block-stacked, mainly because Addax faced difficulty in finding a local heavy-duty racking supplier.
The company finally found a local fabricator to produce this type of racking but the estimated costs exceeded those of an imported racking system. Some local businesses quoted for racks constructed from old production tubing but the extensive welding involved made this a costly alternative, so management saw the only meantime option was to block stack.
The Flexi G4 VNA trucks were chosen because they allow pallets to be block-stacked more closely together in the Addax warehouse than the traditional counterbalance forklifts the company had used hitherto. 
Using the articulated Flexi G4 VNA saved Addax floor space and will allow even more product storage once its heavy duty racks are installed.
Addax required forklifts that were quick and easy to maintain. The Flexi forklift, powered by a 48-volt battery, is designed to be low maintenance. No chains or slings are needed during battery change-over operations. The battery is removed at low level from the rear using a hand pallet truck, eliminating the risk of the battery being dropped from height.
The Flexi's rugged construction and rubber tyres make it suitable for the facility's harsh conditions. Compared to Western facilities, the yard conditions at Addax's Nigerian facility are particularly difficult and the warehouse floor is less than perfect.
Mr John Fisher, Business Development Manager of Flexilift Australia, says the exclusive distributor in Australia is promoting the Flexi in the oil services as a viable alternative to counterbalance forklifts and reach trucks. 
"The high cost and restricted space available in land- or platform-based storage areas make the Flexi a very attractive option," said Mr Fisher.

"This is but one example of a number from around the world where the Flexi has demonstrated cost savings and handling improvements."

The 'thinnest' brand in forklifts in Australia, compared to forklifts of conventional design, the Flexi G4 electric VNA
Counterbalance truck creates up to 30% more storage space within an existing warehouse or logistics centre.

The unit has a load capacity of 2000kg and can operate at 100% duty cycle in just 1642mm (Euro) or 1762mm (ISO) aisle widths while lifting to heights exceeding 12 metres.

It does all this without the need for special floor requirements, so business operators need not alter the dimensions of their existing warehouse footprints.

They are, however, able to introduce more racking within that existing area.

Flexi G4 VNA works like an electric counterbalance truck, with one truck doing the job of both a counterbalance truck and a reach truck.

Double handling is all but eliminated, enabling Flexi G4 to cut handling costs by up to 50% or more in most working environments.

"In most cases, because of the very narrow operating space it requires, the Flexi G4 VNA liberates up to 30% more warehouse capacity compared to conventional reach trucks," said Mr Fisher.

"Due to the rising costs of floor space around Australia, we find that many businesses are realising the cost efficiencies of better utilisation of an existing warehouse footprint.

"An ideal way of securing better profits is to make aisles thinner, therefore allowing more racking on existing floor space.

"Flexi G4 VNA has been developed as the ideal technical asset for these economic times where every square metre of floor space counts dearly."

Flexi G4 VNA is equally at home working outside the warehouse or in a loading yard. It is able to operate a complete 'road to rack' function, eliminating time consuming double pallet handling and the need and cost of a separate
counterbalance truck outside.

The truck has a compact axle design and is able to articulate through 220 degrees and allows ISO pallets to be stacked and picked in 1,600mm wide aisles in two separate movements.

It features twin front wheel drive, which means that the weight of the truck and the load is divided between the truck's two front wheels, helping to achieve maximum traction and reduce tyre wear.

Flexilift Australia is also the exclusive agent in Australia for Hyundai Forklifts and the Sellick range of rough terrain lift trucks.