When it comes to impressive statistics and numbers, The Park is not short of these. The multi-award-winning manufacturing and blending plant in Avonmouth employs almost 400 people and produces 25 million 9L case equivalents of wine each year. The site is home to its 80,000m² wine warehouse and distribution centre, the largest of its kind in Europe; with six packaging lines it has the capacity to produce 1,200 bottles of wine every minute.
Even a company at the top of its game is not immune to certain external factors, of which there have been plenty in the last year or so. Recent problems with the supply chain and shipping also coincided with The Park enjoying a period of steady growth. This prompted the management to look at ways of increasing on-site storage for containers and ISO Tanks which are shipped mainly from Australia and New Zealand, but also from Chile, the USA and South Africa.
Integral to the optimum use of available space are two Combi-SC straddle carrier models from the Irish manufacturer Combilift, well known for devising innovative solutions for handling loads of all shapes, weights and dimensions. Freight Manager Bob Prescott and his team started evaluating various options in mid-2020 and concluded that the multidirectional and telescopic capabilities of the Combi-SCs would enable containers to be stored much closer together as well as double stacked for maximum density.
“The container handling equipment we have used for years can only lift one load at a time and their manoeuvrability is very limited,” said Prescott, “whereas the three-wheel Combi-SC can turn on its axis and access much tighter spaces.”
The own weight and axle loading of the Combi-SC models is much lighter than other types of heavy handling equipment such as reach trucks, enabling them to work on less than perfect ground conditions. Some concreting and general surface improvements were carried out in the yard, however, mainly to determine and mark out areas that could bear the weight of double-stacked containers. The potential for storing containers or ISO Tanks, each containing around 24,000 litres of wine, has now expanded from 166 bays to 250, representing a massive increase in capacity with no requirement to purchase or lease extra space.
Each Combi-SC that is built in the factory in Monaghan is tailor-made to customer specifications, and The Park’s 35t capacity telescopic double stacking models feature a fixed fully automatic attachment to handle 20ft ISO Tanks and containers, which can also lift 40ft containers via chains if required. Weighing systems with an accuracy of +/-2% were also fitted, as were 129° cameras front and rear to ensure when the load is raised the driver has 360° visibility from the cab.
When wine is required for production the Combi-SCs take the containers to special offloading bays where they have a gradient of approx. 5 degrees so using gravity and pump assistance, contents can be transferred to holding tanks before the bottling process begins.
Richard Lloyd, General Manager, European Operations and Supply Chain comments: “The addition of the Combi-SC straddle carrier has enabled us to react to a dramatic decline in global shipping reliability and double our storage capability of wine, importantly within the same footprint. This change in capacity is transformational for the site in meeting its customer demand on time.”