VNA trucks help maximise warehouse space utilisation without expanding

Picture of Markus Ekman

Markus Ekman

7 minutes to read

cold store , VNA

With never-before-seen expenditure levels, caused by the global inflation crisis, expanding may be a little more cumbersome, even more so than under normal circumstances. Narrowing the aisles in your warehouse could be your saviour. Let’s take a closer look.

Space is money 

Logistics real estate is hard to come by and doesn’t come cheap. Storage locations or distribution warehouses are scarce and new projects are being cancelled, or at the very least put on hold, due to the high construction costs supply chain professionals are faced with today. Demand is significantly higher than supply, forcing land and rent prices to rise. On top of that, getting the right permissions and building permits sorted can be a nightmare.

A way to use your warehouse storage space to the fullest is to narrow the aisle width and increase the racking height where possible – making it denser. Very Narrow Aisle (VNA) trucks are specifically designed for use in high-density warehouses and distribution areas for picking or replenishing goods. This dedicated truck solution in cube-like grid is still a much more flexible and scalable solution in high density warehousing compared to crane systems. Your win could be as much as double pallet density.

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If you organise (part of) the warehouse to run VNA trucks, you will need to fit a separate area for your horizontal movement outside the aisles. At the end of the aisles, pallets can be picked up or dropped off, outside the cube-like VNA zone.

VNA trucks: real space savers 

Traditional forklifts have their forks faced forward but the small aisles leave very little room to manoeuvre. Very Narrow Aisle trucks have the forks mounted on a turret head letting the forks swivel from one side to the other.  Therefore, there’s no need to position the truck around the pallets or to manoeuvre inside the aisles.

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Depending on the need or preference, a man-down or man-up version can be chosen. The Toyota BT Vector A-series includes innovative man-up trucks with an articulated frame, which makes this series’ design perfect for work in very narrow aisles. Why?

  • Articulated trucks can handle narrower transfer aisles than a non-articulated truck. The small turning radius saves you just over 1m extra floor space. This type of VNA offers more pallet positions than a rigid 3-wheel chassis by reducing the number of aisles. 
  • Much quicker horizontal and vertical positioning of the forks compared to a reach truck or stacker.  
  • Articulated steering reduces the turn radius and therefore the drive length when changing aisles. High manoeuvrability also makes aisle changes quicker.

Toyota VNA trucks are designed for wire or rail guidance, allowing fast but safe working, with optimised drive and lift speed. They support high-level order picking and full pallet handling up to 17 m high. When all pallet locations are programmed into the truck, the truck will automatically calculate the optimal route from A to B, providing safe and fast navigation. Note, adequate flooring is required. 

Multiplied by the number of racks you could fit and the storage height you can realise, you can calculate just how much you could save in total on warehouse space.


Supporting high turnover 

Especially when stocking fast moving consumer goods with a high turnover, VNA trucks guarantee more throughput of volume. Condense placement of goods in the same area means the operator can access more items more quickly and the machines can fetch and deposit pallets much faster. On average, the number of pallets handled per hour lies between 20 to 25 with a reach truck but with VNA trucks operators can handle 30 to 35 pallets per hour. Imagine, 50% more productivity, and a win-win when it comes to manpower.
Temperature-controlled warehouses or distribution centres are highly technical rooms where operations follow a just-in-time logistics principle. VNA trucks, available with belt driven turret head fork design for flexibility or shuttle forks for the narrowest aisles are ideal for deep-freeze environments. Here, going narrower and higher can be an economical, ecological and practical way to gain space and save the cost of exploiting extra cold stores.

Full range to fit every business need 

The Toyota BT Vector range includes several models to suit all your order picking or replenishment demands: 

  • Man-down VNA truck with turret head - Load capacity up to 1.5 tonne
  • Man-up VNA truck with compact turning - Load capacity up to 1.2 tonne
  • Man-up heavy-duty VNA truck with compact turning - Load capacity up to 1.5 tonne
  • Man-up and man-down VNA truck with shuttle forks - Load capacity up to 1.25 tonne


Today, finding logistics space is maybe just as distressing as attracting labour. Maximising the available space will fit neatly in the urban planning and allow your business to grow further.


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