Classic British design improves roll handling
With many UK companies looking to import cheaper machinery and components from overseas, one UK company is bucking that trend and is bringing classic British design flair to the world of industrial trucks.
Have you ever walked through a factory and thought that everything looked rather dull and boring and well, just functional? Conversely, have you ever walked through a factory and thought, “Wow, that looks impressive”! Yes? Well how did each of those experiences make you feel?
Apple founder Steve Jobs once said, “Design is not just what it looks like, it’s how it feels”. It was a comment that Stephen Weston, Managing Director of the Weston Handling Consultancy, (WHC), took to heart when designing his latest range of Reel Handling trucks. His instructions to the design team, included some surprising requests. He showed them pictures of stylish Scooters that had detachable side panels and ‘designer’ switches and lights and said, “I want a Pedestrian Stacker Truck, that looks like that!”
Weston has redesigned the range of RaSHCo® and Weston™ Reel Trucks that he has been producing for almost a decade, to be built, from scratch, in the UK. Previously, all RaSHCo® & Weston™ Reel Truck variants, including Reel Turners, Reel Tippers, Reel Transporters, etc., had been designed around imported pedestrian Stacker Trucks that were then customized to carry Weston’s range of various attachments. Weston used models from several manufacturers, which meant that, except for colours, he had no control of either the trucks look, or the components used. Consequently, whilst producing some of the most innovative Reel Handling trucks on the market, he always felt the designs were a compromise.
The first of the new, Made in Britain, Weston™ Reel Trucks, a Weston™ LV/E1000 Reel Cradle Truck were delivered to UK Paper Converter, Cotek Papers, where they were keen to reduce manual handling of heavy reels, but also needed the flexibility to work on more than one machine. The second LV truck went to a packaging plant in California, USA.
Steve Bourge of Cotek Papers, was responsible for commissioning the Weston™ LV™ truck, and commented, “The truck is very maneuverable and has excellent vision. The LV mechanism being integrated into the truck is far less cumbersome than an attachment and works particularly well in confined areas”.
Research and Development plays a major part in WHC’s day-to-day work and Weston asserts that most of their developments have been customer led, with more and more companies coming to them looking for powered handling solutions to overcome manual operations. “Most, if not all of our Reel Handling and Shaft Handling designs, have come about as a result of customers’ asking for solutions to everyday problems they face, particularly in the loading & unloading of Slitters and Coaters. He goes on, “We have a fantastic base model now, which we can easily customize to match a customer’s requirement.” Now, they have patents pending and registered designs that are based on technical developments that were made possible by the decision to take all design & build, in-house.
The new Reel Trucks incorporate stylish looks, but with practical uses. For example, Gull Wing doors are usually associated with high-end sports cars, but Weston uses them to create a feature that is both attractive and practical. Unusually, the doors are made of steel and hinged, not plastic cowling, so they are strong and open a full 180degrees, giving engineers, easy access to the compartmentalized electric and hydraulic services. Likewise, the electronic controls used, are supplied by Curtis Instruments, who produce high quality components that are globally available with local support engineers.
Another feature of the new trucks is their modular construction. Many standard pedestrian stacker trucks are built with the legs, mast and motor compartment base, fabricated as a single piece. Weston maintains this lacks flexibility and by making each section separately, additional sections can be added to increase the degree of counterbalance and reduce leg length, up to the point when the truck becomes a true counterbalance.
The Weston Handling Consultancy is already building Reel Handling trucks, for blue chip and international customers such as 3M. Attention to detail and Safety, sees the truck fitted with an “Anti-Crush Kick-Plate”, which stops the truck if a foot becomes trapped.
Weston is expanding the range to include Pedestrian Stackers, Reel Transporters and basically any materials handling trucks that are based on Stacker Trucks and adding features, such as Swing-Jib booms and Hoists for de-palletizing.
Weston also aims to grow the company internationally, to follow the growth of converting industries in emerging regions of the world including Central & South America, Russia & Eastern Europe and China, as well as the USA. Weston believes that his insistence on pairing stylish design with innovative Handling solutions, will be the key to global success!
Weston Handling Consultancy Ltd