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Thinking outside the box: Bespoke goods lift solves handling dilemma for Rigid Containers

Thinking outside the box: Bespoke goods lift solves handling dilemma for Rigid Containers


​In 1907, a 24-year-old Howard Burditt founded a business fabricating wicker and wooden boxes, which were used to transport products on the railway. Starting out in two rented rooms in his former employer’s premises, Mr Burditt founded the business after saving 50 shillings and using £100 borrowed from family. Since then Rigid Containers has come a long way – success which is somewhat remarkable considering Mr Burditt and many of his staff served in both World Wars.

Today, with a strong and proud history of corrugated manufacturing stretching back over a century, Rigid continues to be at the forefront of corrugated paper, paperboard, sack and bag design and manufacture. The company, operate from three state-of-the-art BRC/loP accredited, integrated manufacturing and logistics facilities in Northamptonshire, North Yorkshire and Somerset, boasting a further integrated manufacturing facility in Limerick, Ireland.

From simple, high volume, low cost transit cases to attractive highly decorative retail ready packaging and high quality printed cases, when it comes to packaging design, Rigid’s in-house technical and development team expertly lead from the initial consultation right through to final product delivery, making sure that cases fit the design and aesthetic brief exactly and work seamlessly on customers production lines.

Thanks to ongoing investment, the company benefits from the most advanced corrugating and converting machinery. This first-rate equipment provides excellent quality cases made from the highest quality corrugated board in a brief time frame. In addition, manufacturing facilities are controlled and operated in a completely computerised planning environment allowing maximised productivity which enables the business to meet the demands of the most demanding of customers.

In 2017, space in the main production area needed to be maximised to support Rigid’s growing business - this led to their decision to have a mezzanine floor extension installed to their existing mezz floor. Penny Hydraulics had previously installed a lift to service the existing mezzanine floor and were therefore specified by Rigid Containers when they tendered the turnkey project. Rigid needed the extension to provide storage space for their machine cutting moulds as the floor space was taken by automated rollers and the best option was to build the extension.

Leading storage solutions provider, Storage Concepts were contracted to supply the mezzanine floor extension which was installed in July. Operating from the Midlands, Storage Concepts work with a range of high-profile clients throughout the UK and Ireland, including; Nissan, Joules, Anytime Fitness, BMW and Jacques Vert. Working primarily across the industrial, manufacturing, commercial and retail sectors, the company devise tailored, turnkey solutions guaranteed to make the most of each customers space - and budget. Having worked with Penny Hydraulics successfully on lifting projects before, the company were assured that Penny Hydraulics was a reliable partner to handle the mechanical handling element of the new mezzanine extension project.

“Having mezz floors fitted in a warehouse or factory offers the potential to double, triple or even quadruple usable space in the premises,” said Penny Hydraulics Area Sales Manager, Andy Griffiths. “Our range of Mezzanine Floor Goods Lifts are suitable for any company who have had, or are looking to have mezzanine floors installed,”

A mezzanine floor is a raised platform that is independent of a building structure which is supported by steel columns. Mezzanine flooring can create additional space for a variety of different uses including storage or extra office space.

“It’s well known that introducing a further floor to a business offers major space benefits, but when planning the installation of mezzanine level, it’s really important to not forget logistics,” said Andy. “It’s vital to consider how you will transport your stock and equipment between floors – manually carrying heavy items up and down stairs is slow and potentially very dangerous, it’s therefore necessary for employers to provide their staff with a safer alternative means of transporting goods.”

Incorrect and excessive manual handling can lead to accidents, causing major damage to the property and may cause employees serious injury and even death. With incorrect manual handling being one of the most common causes of injury at work, Manual Handling Operations Regulations state that no man should attempt to lift anything heavier than 25kg - a woman's maximum limit is less at just 16kg. The regulations state that wherever reasonably practicable, manual handling should be automated and the use of mechanical aids is encouraged.

“When deciding on a materials handling solution to move goods to an upper level or mezzanine floor, customers will be considering cost, safety and ROI, said Andy. “Based on the customers individual requirements and taking into account industry and safety regulations, it’s possible to narrow down the lift options leaving us with the most appropriate model of goods lift from our range to suit the task in hand.”

To ensure the right lift selection is made, Penny’s draw on over 40 years’ experience specifying lifts – giving particular focus to certain key factors.

“We look at the environment that the lift will be installed in, how often the lift will need to be used, the weight of the goods that need to be lifted and how likely it is that the lift will be used to lift different loads in the future,” said Andy.

Following consultation with Penny’s in-house team of dedicated goods lift design engineers, an appropriate lift was quickly specified for the Rigid Containers site. The model chosen was the 500kg capacity MezzPro – the most popular lift from Penny’s range of mezzanine floor goods lifts. The MezzPro goods lift enables users to move goods such as trolleys or pallets cost-effectively, safely and efficiently to first and second floor storage areas. A bespoke platform of 1300mm wide x 2500mm deep was supplied, with a sliding gate at the bottom entrance to allow for the turning of bespoke trolleys being used to lift the machine molds.

The specialist lift was designed by Penny’s dedicated goods lift engineers and manufactured at Penny Hydraulics HQ: their purpose-built new £2M production facility in Derbyshire.

“Being manufactured by us here in the UK offers key benefits to the customer,” said Andy. “High quality standards, the ability to design and manufacture bespoke elements, as well as a short lead time - the lift was manufactured within just 6 weeks. This really sets us apart from other lift suppliers who manufacture overseas.”

Comprehensive project management offered by Penny’s goods lift team, helped from the site assessment stage, through the design, manufacture and installation phases of the project.

The lift is CE marked and was built in conformance with the Machinery Directive 2006/42/EC, Lifting Operations & Lifting Equipment Regulations (LOLER) 1998 and The Provision & Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998.

“We offer an unrivalled range of safety features as standard,” said Andy. “Level gates fitted with electrical & mechanical interlocks, an emergency stop button fitted to all control stations, an anti-slip platform surface, hose burst protection and lift overload protection were all included.”

A rapid installation service ensured the lift was installed by Penny’s dedicated install team within a time-period of just two days.

“We’re able to install so quickly thanks to expert design,” said Andy. “The lifts are completely free-standing, meaning no time-consuming, disruptive and expensive structural changes to the building are necessary – this means we can install fast and importantly, this also enables us to keep costs low.”

Moving forwards, Rigid Containers will benefit from regular Thorough Examinations of their lift carried out by Penny’s nationwide network of service and maintenance engineers. The statutory inspections are carried out in accordance with Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations (LOLER) and will mean that Rigid Containers will continue to fulfil their legal obligations and duty of care to employees by ensuring the equipment remains safe to use throughout its life.

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