West Midlands stockholder The Metal Centre has doubled hourly pick rates, from 15 to 30 per hour with the same manpower, as a result of moving to Unicompact systems supplied by Kasto from a manual handling system using conventional racking and fork lift trucks.
Chris Meredith, general manager, says that the first system with nearly 2,000 locations installed in 2002, paid back within three years. The second phase, completed in 2007, saw the system expanded to three independently operating Unicompact stores with a total capacity of 6,000 cassettes.
The doubling of pick rates at The Metal Centre was maintained during the second phase of expansion, despite store height being increased from the 2002 level of eight metres to 14 metres. Faster gantry crane movements have compensated for the larger distances travelled: 160 m/min longitudinally, 60 m/min vertically and up to 80 m/min for cassette traverse.
Within each location, care is taken to mix material types to ensure maximum utilisation of space and facilitate picking. For example, large diameter bar is combined with tube so that the maximum weight capacity of 1.5 tonnes on systems 1 and 2, or 2.5 tonnes on system 3, is not reached before the volume occupied is at a reasonable level. Additionally, it is easy to distinguish between the different stock types when picking. For the same reason, dissimilar materials are often stored in the same cassette.
Customers can be online with the host computer at The Metal Centre and place orders directly on the KASTOlvr system every day. All orders are stacked onto a holding screen and sequentially released to the warehouse for picking. The status of an order can be viewed at any time, giving a snapshot of which items are still to be picked and the tonnage picked against the required total. The computer automatically lists the orders as they are received in the correct sequence, according to delivery priority for each vehicle.