Racking sits right at the heart of the warehouse – get it right and it can boost operational performance but get it wrong and it can turn the warehouse into a nightmare.
Planning is essential. Bob Jane, business development manager at SSI Schaefer, says: “To maximise efficiency of a storage facility – the building and its internal storage installation – you must first consider the prime objectives of the operation. This could vary from simply holding material in long term storage, where items are rarely called upon, for example; archive records, data storage or slow moving parts – the main objective being storage density, security and accuracy of location. Or to fast moving high throughput warehouses where fast access, accurate picking, rapid replenishment and 100 per cent availability is the priority, for example: pharmaceuticals (high street chemist supply), retail mail order and e-commerce.
“Appropriate manning levels and investment in automation and the best fit material handling equipment is also vital if you want to maximise profitability,” says Jane.
He points out that there are many critical factors to consider when selecting the right type of racking: Where are you going to build it? What are the unit loads? How much do they weigh? How much material is there? How will the material be handled – on pallets, stillages or loose? What type of material handling equipment will be used? Will it be safe? How fast do you want to access the stock? The environment will also play a large part, if the materials are hazardous, what type of surface finish is needed? Will the racking be built outside?
“In today’s logistics market, companies should be looking for suppliers with additional added value services which include project management and the positive integration with other trades, for example sprinklers, lighting and MHE. Installation of labelling, warehouse signage and floor markings are other additional services to consider, along with design planning, with consideration of current building regulations, local authority approvals, ongoing storage maintenance, financial planning and equipment leasing,” says Jane.
SSI Schaefer is currently building the highest cold rolled rack supported building in the UK for leading global provider of integrated logistic solutions for warehouses, distribution centres and hospitals, Swisslog.
At nearly 40 metres high with over 41,000 pallet locations, the SSI Schaefer Systems Group is mid-way through a multi-million pound project in Newport, Wales for Swisslog. With years of experience in the development of integrated logistics solutions, Swisslog is committed to serving their customers with local resources.
Swisslog called upon SSI Schaefer to design, manufacture and erect a rack supported building for its client Quinn Radiators. SSI Schaefer had already built up a working relationship with Quinn’s, from a previous completed project with sister company Quinn Glass, which is believed to be the largest warehouse of its type in Europe with a total of 283,100 pallet storage locations.
Selecting the best solution from the right supplier can be the hardest part of the exercise. It all depends on your plan, length of investment (short or long-term) and overall strategic organisation.”You have to select the best fit based on all known factors and ensure the decision can be justified from all sides. Businesses should look for a company that produces quality products that are correctly specified for the job with financial stability and longevity to ensure your supplier will be there to support you in the future,” says Jane.
Of course, the options available are constantly growing as suppliers introduce new products. Storax, for example recently launched Ramada 2 store – a high density storage system that features a double-wide design, allowing loading, storing and unloading two pallets at a time. It enables the operator to use a double forklift providing the potential to increase productivity by 50 per cent thus reducing operating costs.
Handling the pallets in a side by side manner helps stabilise the load and allows drivers to efficiently and safely handle twice the regular loading on a single trip. Storax is targeting the 2 Store system at the beverage and food industries.
Another issue is looking after an installation. Norbert Dentressangle Logistics has been operating Ikea’s distribution centre at Doncaster since its opening in 2002. The site was extended in 2006 to 134,635 sq m and now has a capacity of some 300,000 plus pallet locations, fully automated high bay, 128 loading docks. It makes over 18,000 deliveries per annum across the Ikea network of UK stores.
In 2006, ND Logistics decided that the Rackcare package would solve many of the difficulties associated with inspection and repair of its pallet racking. The Rackcare package is a process which allows the results of existing racking users inspections to be recorded on a software package that then applies the HSE and SEMA rules to the control unsafe locations caused by damage to the racking. The system then allows for the management of repairs and return to service of the locations.