Swindon based South West Vauxhall Spares has increased the number of vehicles that can be stored at its premises from 40 to 144 since a new system based around racking and the capabilities of a Combilift C4000 4-way forklift has been in place. It is also now much quicker and easier to move individual cars and the risk of product damage has been substantially reduced.

The company is a specialist Vauxhall breaker, dismantling around 10 to 15 vehicles every week, and has an inventory of 30,000 items. Directors Dave and Laura Marshall have charted the changes in the industry over the years and believe that the future lies in safer and more rationalised storage procedures such as those they have implemented.

Bringing a parked up car from the yard to the workshop for depollution and dismantling used to entail shifting numerous other vehicles out of the way and back into place with a counterbalance truck. This often took hours and also resulted in damage to panels and other components from the truck’s forks due to its limited manoeuvrability. “We realised that this was costing us valuable time – and therefore money – that could be better spent on the actual breaking process, so we decided to look for a better alternative,” said Laura.

The Combilift was modified to take into account the size of the loads carried and was built with a much wider chassis than standard: the 2m long platform and the 2000mm forks ensure stable picking and low level transportation of the cars. Guided aisles along the inner edges of the racking enabled aisle-widths to be set at just a little more than the depth of the truck itself at 3.22m, for best use of every inch of space in the 865m² area. This also makes it very quick for the Combilift to enter, exit and travel down the aisles, and removing a car from its designated bay to the dismantling area takes just minutes. The mast height was specified at 6.3m to enable easy access to the 6m top bays.

The truck is also used to unload incoming transporters, and this is a much more straightforward procedure as Dave explains: “We used to have to direct the driver to put the most damaged cars on the bottom level so that we could drag them off. Now that we can pick all the cars off with the Combilift it makes no difference where they are, which is very convenient for all concerned. The truck’s manoeuvrability enables a whole transporter to be emptied in 15 minutes so the driver is off onto the next job in no time.”

“The investment we made in racking and the Combilift was quite considerable,” says Dave, “but in terms of efficiency, flexibility, safety and more business opportunities it is already paying its way and I see this as the best practice model going forward.”


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