Independent frozen, chilled and ambient food supplier, Hunts Foodservice, has announced its continued investment in onsite efficiencies, as the long-established, reputable firm installs its fourth Loading Bay Service (LBS) loading solution.

With sites across the South West, Hunt’s has been truly impressed with the capabilities of its original LBS ramp, purchased complete with fixed loading platform and dock leveller back in 2016 for installation at the company’s Sherborne warehouse.  In February 2018 the firm installed a further two fixed ramps for its sites in Hazelbury Bryan and Stalbridge, each affording loading bay access from ground level, and in April chose to invest again, this time securing a ramp of the same design as the Sherborne apparatus, but for Hunt’s Fareham site in Hampshire.

With its strong focus on innovation and development, Hunt’s has strategically acquired several key businesses over the last decade, and as such has grown significantly since the company began as a dairy in the 1930s.

From mobile ice cream vendors and five-star hotels, to public sector services and outside catering, Hunt’s Foodservice is still a family run operation, providing 16,000 product lines from its modern cold storage distribution facilities. The company’s expansion and commitment to customer service has led it to invest in innovative technologies over recent years, with its improvement to its loading bay facilities proving a prime example.

“We’re always considering options for apparatus and appropriate technologies that will increase our function and heighten customer experience”, explains Thomas Hunt, Operations Director at Hunt’s.

He goes on to say how Hunt’s discovered Loading Bay Services two years ago while conducting an internet search to explore ways to improve efficiencies, both in the loading bay and in terms of logistics. Thomas found that LBS clearly had the design expertise to create a ramp with a fixed loading platform and dock leveller; capable of providing his operation with a longer, horizontal working area for safely packing “double stacked” pallets or loading taller, larger goods into lorries.

“A key reason for wanting a fixed loading platform and dock leveller, as opposed to a standard ramp, was so our forklift could safely enter and load lorry containers.  This would enable pallets to be ‘double stacked’, rather than simply placed into lorries at a single level; better utilising space, improving efficiencies and reducing our firm’s carbon footprint.”

After considering Loading Bay Service’s apparatus’ potential online, Thomas contacted the firm and LBS made an onsite visit to discuss exact requirements and design a solution that would meet Hunt’s precise needs.

The apparatus designed, would enable direct forklift access, and subsequently the ability to double stack the pallets.

Thomas goes on to say how prior to the LBS ramp installation, loading bay operatives drove the forklift truck in the yard, and then manually placed pallets into the containers across one level.

“After installation, we were immediately able to utilise 89 percent of our lorries’ internal space as opposed to 40 or 50 percent.  Fitting more products in one container has saved fuel and transportation costs and reduced working hours for staff. Furthermore, we’re able to run just one forklift, which can operate in both the warehouse and inside the containers, as opposed to one vehicle in each.”

Off the back of his experience with the loading equipment, Thomas went on to order the two separate fixed LBS ramps for Hunt’s Hazelbury Bryan and Stalbridge sites, and now reports the successful installation of a second fixed loading platform and dock leveller for the firm’s Fareham site; totalling four Loading Bay Service installations in all.

“We’re delighted to welcome an additional fixed loading platform and dock leveller at our Hampshire operation,” Thomas continues, “which we’re confident will achieve equal results to the equipment in Sherborne; and the apparatus in Hazelbury Bryan and Stalbridge is also proving its abilities superbly.

“Warren from LBS has provided us with both expert advice and well-thought-out designs; supplying safe and efficient equipment that has made a notable difference to our loading practice. We’re very pleased with our choice.”