Material Handling Equipment and High Dense Storage Systems

NEWS & MEDIA | 06 July 2018

Material Handling Equipment and High Dense Storage Systems

He who is most efficient wins – Article by Robert Kershaw

One of the key design values at Barpro when designing a high dense storage solution – be it Mobile racking or RANGER shuttle – is to maximise the space available and improve efficiencies in space, people and equipment. Through both the above systems and others like multi-tier case picking mezzanines, we turn aisle or open space into revenue / income generating storage space. This approach is taken when advising our clients on aisle widths, roof heights, as well as  material handling equipment best suited for the application at hand.


We recently attended a training session by Goscor’s Darryl Hancock to learn more about Material Handling Equipment (MHE).

We had a clear objective and some specific questions we wanted answers for.


We want to know more about Bendis, Reach Trucks, VNA’s, Forklifts and Order Pickers so we can advise and add value when designing high dense and super-efficient cold, chiller and ambient storage solutions.


  1. How wide do aisles have to be?

  2. Bendis, Reach Trucks or VNA’s? How do we decide which way to go?

  3. How high can we go?

  4. How many do we need to meet our through puts?

  5. What technology is available to improve pick / put away rate, monitor driver performance and reduce damages (To Racking and product)?

  6. Can the different MHE be used in Cold Stores?

  7. And of course cost? Will always play a role in the decision making process.


The above were just some of the questions we posed to Darryl.

So let’s start at the beginning.

1. How wide do aisles have to be?

  • Bendis – 1.8 to 2m. (Truck size and lift height determines the aisle).


Narrow Aisle Bendy
Narrow Aisle Bendi



  • Reach Trucks (Crown is their Brand) – 2.8-3m for a 1.2m wide x 1m deep pallet. Add 200mm for the other way round.


Crown reach truck with cold store cabin
Crown reach truck with cold store cabin














  • VNA’s (Turret Trucks / Very Narrow Aisle)
  1. IN Rack aisles – 1.4 – 2.2m. Vary with application.
  2. END of rack aisles where aisle changing is required – 4.5 – 4.6m.
  • 3 Wheeler fork lifts – 3.2 to 3.5m (load size dependent)
  • 4 Wheeler fork lifts – 3.5 to 4m (load size dependent)

Barpro’s comments on aisle widths. We like aisles a little bit wider.

Our experience is that the racks take a lot of pounding when too narrow. If you have the luxury of making the aisles slightly wider it’s a good idea. An extra 150 to 250mm can make all the difference. It also significantly increases reach truck throughput if the aisle is wide enough to make a right angle turn into the racking in one movement.

2. Bendis, Reach Trucks or VNA’s? Which ones for you? (Sounds like the old Citi Golf ad…Red, yellow, blue. Which ones for you?

It’s really about height, aisle width and speed and of course personal preference and experience.

If you’re looking at mobile racking or a high dense storage system it almost doesn’t make sense to go Bendi or VNA as opposed to Reach Trucks as the main benefit of them is the narrower aisle. In high dense storage systems we reduce the amount of aisles so the benefit of a narrow aisle machine is less. Having said this in long narrow buildings the narrower aisle machine can give you an extra mobile or row of rack which can make a difference. Especially when your objective is to increase and maximise storage capacity. Which most of the time it is.

Of course VNA’s or Turret trucks can give you about 3 or 4m extra storage height over Bendis and reach trucks.

So let’s look at some of our other questions that will help to make this decision.

mobile bases length
Bendi type forklift working in a Storax mobile system



3. How high can we go? Heights are lift heights. Top beam height should be 200mm less.

  • Bendis – 12.5m.
  • Reach trucks – 13 m, 14m without extension forks. Important – Max pallet weight 800 kg to these heights (pallet orientation dependent).
  • VNA’s (Turret Trucks) – 17.2m.
  • Forklifts:

Triple container masts – 4.8m lift height (LH) / 2.1m down height (DH).

Quad container masts:

  1. 6.4m LH / 2.1m DH.
  2. 7.4m LH / 2.5m DH.

4. How many do we need to meet our through puts?

Of course this is really about speed. Picking and driving speed and will vary depending on racking layout, distances to dispatch, driver experience and confidence and a host of other factors.

As a rule of thumb and guidance when making this tough decision. (Quantities are pallet movements per hour):

  • Bendis – 18 – 20 (travel distance and lift height dependent)
  • Reach trucks – 26 (travel distance and lift height dependent)
  • VNA’s – Every application is different and will vary depending on how long the aisles are and how high the racking is.

One of the major benefits of a high dense storage system besides the obvious increase in storage capacity is speed or should we say throughputs / pallet movements per hour. This is mainly due to the shorter travelling distances i.e. more pallets in a smaller space therefore the travelling distances MHE has to travel is far less and as a result throughputs / pallet movements per hour are higher. Of course with Dynamic Systems like RANGER shuttle these are even higher as the shuttle does a lot of the work for the reach truck. A shuttle system combined with receiving and dispatch on opposite ends of your warehouse or cold room is probably the most efficient semi-automated racking solution you’ll find.

5. What is the latest technologies driving MHE design and product development?

  • Reach truck loading assistive devices:
  1. Pre-programming heights.
  2. CCTV Cameras
  3. High Level Positioning Systems (HLPS).
  4. Red Laser beams on forks to assist with picking at high levels.
  • FMX Fleet monitoring Systems.
  • Auto Fencing – Stops the machine from going into certain areas. I.e. where there is bridge racking that is too low for the machine.
  • CROWN info link – fleet management for VNA’s – Monitors driver performance and behaviour.
  • Quick pick gloves for case picking with pallet jacks or walk behind low level order pickers.

We have just given you bulleted points here. Technology certainly has to be considered when designing or running a storage solution. Especially in this high competitive game of supply chain logistics warehousing and distribution. Be it cold, chiller or ambient. He or she that is most efficient wins.

6. Cold storage. What is available?

Bendis, Crown Reach Trucks and VNA’s are all available with cold cabs. Cold cabs on forklifts is not a common application as most cold rooms are at least Reach Truck height applications.

See additional costs below for cold cabs.

Of course if you are not prepared to pay the extra investment cost in a cold cab machine high quality DELF freezer ware is available from BARPRO. To increase time drivers can spend in the cold and chill store. Please call us for more details.

7. Cost? The last and probably most influencing factor.

Reach trucks

  • Ambient – Price per application
  • Cold Cab – Approximately 10-20% more.


  • Ambient – 40% more than a reach truck for ambient.
  • Cold Cab – Per application

VNA / Turret

  • Ambient – Indefinite costs and options.
  • With cold cab – Very few have been sold in the country. Pricing on request.


  • Various capacities and options available at various pricing.

The above prices are very much a guideline and are subject to rate of exchange fluctuation and application.


Left to Right: Robert Kershaw, Darryl Hancock and Corné Stapelberg
Left to Right: Robert Kershaw, Darryl Hancock and Corné Stapelberg


Thank you GOSCOR and Darryl Hancock for a most enlightening day.

Please contact us for more details or contact Darryl directly on 082 803 3799 for more info.



Goscor logo