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Whitbread PLC invest in safe and productive delivery handling at Beefeater sites

Whitbread PLC invest in safe and productive delivery handling at Beefeater sites


Whitbread PLC, the UK's largest hospitality company, is the latest high-profile customer to invest in specialist goods lifts from Penny Hydraulics Ltd to aid food and drinks deliveries. To date, the company has had lifts installed at nine of their Beefeater sites across the UK to encourage safer and more productive delivery handling. Further Beefeater premises are set to benefit from a ‘CellarLift’ installation from Penny’s over the course of 2018 as the project is rolled out.

Having opened their first Beefeater pub in 1974 in Enfield, Whitbread now boast over 140 Beefeater restaurants worldwide. The hugely popular chain of restaurants handles a large amount of food and drink deliveries every day, all of which introduce their own unique handling challenges. True to their founding spirit, the Whitbread team are always on the lookout for innovative ways to assist their business operation and were quick to look for solutions when it became evident that dray teams were struggling to deliver beer barrels to their restaurants.

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 and a woman's maximum limit is less at 16kg. The regulations state that wherever reasonably practicable, manual handling should be automated and the use of mechanical aids is encouraged. Responsible employers like Whitbread introduce lifting equipment where suitable to ensure a safe operation, fulfilling their duty of care to their employees.

VerticA is an independent team of lift and escalator consulting engineers selected by Beefeater to solve their handling problem. Vertica selected Penny Hydraulics unique CellarLift product to address the issue. The CellarLift is a specialist mechanical handling device that eliminates the need to handle barrels from the delivery point - usually the pavement door flaps - down to the cellar by hand. Over 40 years of experience has gone into the current CellarLift design, which is in use with all of the major pub chains and restaurants in the UK. What makes the product so successful?

“It’s pretty simple really,” explains Managing Director of Penny Hydraulics, Robin Penny. “Eliminating unnecessary manual handling not only promotes health and safety, but also enables a reduction in the size of certain dray teams from three to two people - for a relatively small investment, business owners are assured of safer, less labour intensive and more efficient deliveries.”

The CellarLift can be installed in virtually any basement or first floor cellar to provide an effective solution for lifting all types of barrel, drink or even food related products. The range includes vertical, sloping and compact designs, with the most common configuration being the vertical unit - this lift can raise and lower any barrel weighing up to 300kg, equivalent to a full 54 gallons, or a double stack of crates whilst occupying the minimum of cellar space. The sloping version has the same performance and is designed for applications where a vertical lift is not practical, such as where cellar access is awkward or where a concrete skid is present.

“The lift can be installed at any inclination from vertical to horizontal which means it can be fitted almost anywhere,” says Robin.

Every CellarLift is based on the same basic design although Penny’s in-house team of goods lift design engineers tailor every installation to the specific requirements of each Beefeater premises. Once the overall lift concept is agreed, a budget estimate is supplied and preliminary surveys to identify the most appropriate configuration of the lift are carried out. These preliminary surveys include taking detailed measurements on site and providing information for use by builders and contractors such as the size of any apertures required and the electrical services that must be installed. 

All CellarLifts are manufactured at Penny’s purpose-built manufacturing facility in the UK allowing the bespoke designs to be installed within short lead times. – typically under 4 weeks. Comprehensive project management assists from site assessment through the design, manufacture and installation phases of every project. An installation date is agreed with contractors and once the equipment is installed, it is commissioned by Penny Hydraulics engineers and readied for use.

Beyond installation of the lifts, in England it is a legal requirement under the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER) and the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations (LOLER) for lifting equipment to have a Thorough Examination and test by a competent person before it is put into service and at regular specified intervals during its life. For peace of mind that the lifts are properly maintained and safe for use, Beefeater may utilise Penny Hydraulics Service Division.

“We offer a ‘cradle to grave’ service meaning equipment continues to be Thoroughly Examined in accordance with LOLER at regular intervals throughout its life by our dedicated nationwide network of specialist goods lift engineers,” says Robin.

Nine Beefeater premises currently benefit from a CellarLift installation and subsequently, a plan has been formulated for all restaurants where barrels, crates and other drinks related items are handled between two levels, typically a cellar and ground-floor bar, to have a CellarLift installed as part of the company’s ongoing retrofit and refurbishment programme. Any new sites acquired will also benefit from the installation of a unit too, meaning there are plenty of new lift installations in the pipeline!

About Whitbread PLC

Leaving home at just 16 years old to become an apprentice to a London Brewer, Samuel Whitbread probably didn’t imagine that he would be founding his own brewery just six years later! Yet, in 1742 he teamed up with a business partner, investing £2,600 into two small breweries: the Goat Brewhouse, which produced porter beers, and a further site in Brick Lane, which primarily produced amber beers and pale ales. Porter beer from the Goat Brewhouse quickly became popular and Whitbread soon struggled to meet demand, so the purchase of a site in Chiswell Street in 1750 to build a larger brewery followed - named the Hind’s Head brewery after his family coat of arms.

Investing in state-of-the-art technologies to industrialise the production of his beer, Whitbread created the first ever purpose-built-mass-production brewery in the UK - storing beer in large vats and even installing a steam engine to maximise efficiency. Whitbread’s innovative nature and forward-thinking attitude is something that is still kept at the core of the business today.

It wasn’t long before Whitbread became one of the largest brewers in England. In 2001, the company reinvented itself becoming the Whitbread it’s known for today - selling the breweries and leaving the pub and bar business behind. Instead, turning focus to hotels, restaurants and coffee shops.

Constantly changing, evolving and growing, Whitbread is now the UK’s biggest hospitality company and the owner of some of the UK’s best loved brands, including: Beefeater, Premier Inn, Costa Coffee, Brewers Fayre, Table Table and Taybarns. Although the core businesses at Whitbread may have changed over the years, the company still remain true to Samuel Whitbread’s founding spirit to put their people first and customers at the heart of everything they do, all the while looking at ways to innovate to stay ahead.

About Penny Hydraulics Ltd

Penny Hydraulics Ltd was founded in 1978 by mining engineer, John Penny. The company offered nationwide hydraulic garage equipment and mining equipment repairs. As Japanese imports started to become more common and the mining industry started to decline, the company diversified into new markets, primarily lifting equipment including cranes for commercial vehicles.

Today, the company is an award-winning UK manufacturer of lifting equipment benefiting from purpose-built premises housing a manufacturing and assembly plant. The company carries out all the functions of a fully integrated company with design, manufacturing, quality control, aftersales support and nationwide service operation.

The company has grown to become the UK’s leading lorry-loader crane manufacturer, goods lift manufacturer and lighting winch manufacturer for premises from Buckingham Palace to a Guinness brewery in Nigeria! Last year, Penny Hydraulics operated in 22 countries worldwide, also providing specialist design and manufacturing services to the nuclear decommissioning, mining and tyre handling industries. Typically, a customer will be a large “blue chip” organisation that is experiencing a specific handling problem.

Penny Hydraulics is partnered with industry’s leading professional and trade organisations and is an approved commercial vehicle converter for major vehicle manufacturers including Renault, Nissan and Volkswagen. Other organisations worldwide from USA to Australia and Hungary to Benelux, choose to partner with Penny Hydraulics to sell lifting applications all over the world.

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