25 November 2021

VNA applications are known for their narrow stacking aisles (typically between 1,500 mm and 1,800 mm) but they have many more benefits.

Some of these include:

  • Increased storage capacity and better space utilisation
  • Greater lift heights than wide aisle solutions
  • Reduces need for off-site/external storage or warehouse extensions
  • Faster picking rates/possibility to pick from all levels
  • Reduced cost per square metre
  • Increased productivity and throughput

However, VNA solutions can have different requirements than traditional wide aisle solutions. Here are some factors you should consider before making your choice.

Considerations for a very narrow aisle warehouse layout

Guidance systems

As VNA stacking aisles are only slightly wider than the truck itself, a guidance system is required to keep the truck travelling in a straight line while driving in the aisle. Manual steering is deactivated within the aisle and the guidance system keeps the truck driving down the centreline. Use of these systems allows VNA trucks to safely travel at higher drive speeds and also allows ‘diagonal travel’ where the operator can lift and lower while driving. Guidance systems are available in both wire and rail options and ensure safety while also allowing VNA trucks to operate at the high levels of throughput that they are capable of.

Operator experience

Not all operators may be experienced with operating in very narrow aisles. Still, there are plenty of training courses readily available for new operators, as well as conversion courses for experienced operators who may not have used VNA before and refresher courses for operators who have used VNA in the past.

Safety

With the correct procedures in place, VNA layouts can often be safer than wider aisle layouts. The mandatory use of guidance system ensures the truck navigates safely down an aisle and End of Aisle (EoA) Braking systems (which are not mandatory but highly recommended) automatically slow or stop trucks at the end of the aisle to ensure another level of safety.

With only one truck in each aisle at any given time, and pedestrians vacant whilst the truck is in use, VNA can present a safe and highly efficient means of storage. However, it is important to ensure employees are aware of correct procedures and full training is given to meet these high safety standards.

Specialist handling equipment

To operate in very narrow aisles, you’ll need to invest in specialist handling equipment. Specialist trucks such as man-up turret trucks, man-down turret trucks and guided high-level order pickers are designed to address the specific requirements of very narrow aisles warehouses.

Choosing the right truck

The defining characteristic of VNA applications is that the truck does not turn within stacking aisles and instead puts away and retrieves pallets laterally using a swivel head attachment or telescopic forks on a platform.

So, if you have, or are considering, very narrow aisle racking, you know you need to invest in specialist trucks. But what exactly are your options? At Cat Lift Trucks, we offer a range of suitable lift truck models, including:

Man-up turret truckswith lift heights up to an industry-leading 19 metres and capacities up to an industry-leading 2.0 tonnes, each turret truck is uniquely specified and custom-built, following a detailed study and measurement of your operation by our Cat Lift Trucks VNA sales consultants. These trucks are perfect for both full pallet movements and order picking.

Man-down VNA trucksthis 2 in 1 solution combines the efficiency of a VNA turret truck with the agility of a reach truck. One truck handles both very narrow aisle duties and transport of pallets to and from the aisles with no need for feeder trucks or P&D stations at aisle ends.

High level order pickersthe NOM10P and the NOH12PH can both be fitted with an optional guidance system to allow safe use within VNA aisles. These trucks are designed to meet increased output and profitability targets in narrower aisles and higher racking.

Some VNA forklifts offer more versatility than others, and the right VNA lift truck for your warehouse will depend on your specific picking requirements. Our network of helpful lift truck dealers are on hand to help you find the right truck for your business. To find your local lift truck dealer, click here.

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Man-up turret trucks
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Man-down VNA truck
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Very narrow aisle turret truck
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NVT11-20(XL) man-up turret trucks