Re-inventing the rack

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As more companies turn to consolidation as a way to drive down costs, renewed focus has fallen on the way warehouses are racked out. Whether consolidating off-site storage or entire warehouses, uniting stock under a single roof has put a different slant on how racking is configured.
Edward Hutchison, managing director of BITO Storage Systems, reckons there are plenty of ways to eke more space out of a typical warehouse or distribution centre, by altering the storage and racking design. “Walk through any warehouse and you’ll notice the actual volume of stored parts is a relatively low percentage. The gangways, aisles, support structure for the building and the racking all occupy a big proportion of the total space – a proportion that can be reduced by moving to storage systems that offer greater density,” he says.
Versatility is a key priority. Hutchison says there is growing demand for storage systems that meet both current and anticipated load requirements, and for shelving and racking systems that allow a variety of pallet, bin and container configurations.
Consolidating warehouses that have different activities under a single roof can be tricky. Hutchison says this can lead to a bigger variety of pallet storage with Euro pallets, Euro-black plastic pallets, slip sheets and traditional 1,200 x 1,000 mm pallets; and the system may need to cater for all of these.
“Looking at the racking itself, customers are asking if this can be easily reconfigured, he adds, “for example can the racking systems offer a variety of different upright heights to accommodate a range of pallet loads, as well as beams constructed for a range of bay widths that will facilitate a wide range of location configurations for an order picking operation.”
He points to the benefits of optimising existing racking by retro fitting flow shelves to form combined pallet/carton live racking. “Flow shelves equipped with the right adapter sections will allow the integration of carton live storage into a standard racking construction of any brand. The adapter sections are bolted directly to the uprights of the existing installation. Support clips, which safely locate into the perforations of the adapter sections, serve as a seat for the self-supporting flow shelves.”
Demand for flexible finance packages is also on the up, enabling companies to spread the full cost of a racking system over several years. Steve Richmond, general manager, Jungheinrich UK’s Systems and Projects division, says: “The acquisition of all capital equipment is a major commitment and how that acquisition is funded requires careful planning. Buyers should ensure that their supplier has access to the widest range of financial options if they are to get the best value for money for their business.”
BITO fits out Buhler Sortex:
Buhler Sortex, supplier of optical sorting machinery for the food processing industry, has opened a new hub, having relocated from Pudding Mill Lane, Stratford to make way for the 2012 Olympics.
Fit-out of the new site four miles away was undertaken by the Spaceway Group, which chose BITO Storage Systems as its partner for the project.
Spaceway designed a system that would turn the 1,035 sq m area into a hub that would enable Buhler Sortex to introduce a product rotation system that would ensure components are used in the correct batch order. Spaceway and BITO teamed up to ensure that the integration of a range of pallet racking, carton live racking and shelving would fuse together to provide the optimum storage system.
Eighteen lanes of pallet live racking were designed to carry large fixtures two deep while 474 pallets can be accommodated in standard pallet racking.
Long tube pigeonhole locations accommodate articles, such as fluorescent tubes up to 1.8 metres long, and the inclusion of a large number of carton live storage is being used to accommodate a variety of boxes. The inclusion of a large number of two-deep carton live locations enables Buhler Sortex to use a Kanban principle to ensure stock rotation and constant supply.
Miele calls on MLOG for high bay:
Miele, manufacturer of electrical domestic appliances, has streamlined its supply chain; consolidating its warehousing and logistics operations as part of the process. The company’s Gutersloh site in Germany became the core hub for all consolidated stock, and now handles product for 80 per cent of Miele’s domestic customers, providing a 24-hour delivery service. Other European and worldwide customers are also supplied via this hub, which represents 70 per cent of throughput.
Since moving all operations over to the site, the company has reported a “fivefold increase” in products held in the hub, which has undergone a number of expansion phases to help deal with the increasing demands. On average, stock is replenished at the 108,000 pallet location site every seven days. With space limited, Miele needed an automated high bay storage system.
MLOG Logistics was picked to design and build a three-aisle automated storage and retrieval system comprising 8,800 pallet locations within a 3,500 sq m buffer warehouse, and integrate the facility into the existing Gutersloh operation.
The three-aisle high bay warehouse was designed for pallets to be stored two-deep in each storage slot. The system has three MSINGLE-type stacker cranes, and links up to Miele’s central WMS software, and is connected via ERP interfaces to the SAP system of the central logistics operation.
MLOG worked closely with Miele and its development team, which included Domnik und Bucker Logistics, Siemens AG Voestalpine & Krems Finaltechnik, to ensure the day-to-day operation was not affected during the construction work and to complete the project on budget and on time in 11 months.

SSI Schaefer ups storage for TNT:
TNT brought in SSI Schaefer to provide it with a mobile racking system for its Archive Storage facility in Swadlincote, Derbyshire, that could help it deal with a growing customer base; including a new 25-year contract to provide archive services to the government.
The installation is currently under construction and, when finished, will accommodate some 800,000 storage boxes – 200,000 more than the existing capacity. The system design comprises 48 mobile racks and 13 levels of shelving, which reach 14 metres in height. Each aisle will be kept at 1.5 metres wide, and each mobile rack will feature inboard sprinkler systems and smoke detection devices. TNT national operations manager Paul Sanders says: “We needed a bespoke solution… that incorporated the latest in fire suppressant technology that would give us and our customers total peace of mind. Schaefer met the challenge.”

Storage boost for Viscount:
Redirack fitted a racking and mezzanine storage system for Viscount Catering, the Sheffield-based factory of Enodis UK Food Service. In total, 4,000 pallet spaces were created at the site, which has a 25,000 sq ft warehouse and a 75,000 sq ft manufacturing area.
The system was designed to follow the contours of the building’s roof to maximise storage density. A narrow aisle racking system was installed, along with wire decking, to cater for the variety of load sizes and config-urations. Sacrificial legs and rack-end barriers finish off the scheme and provide added protection and cheap maintenance, to reduce downtime in the event of rack damage. The mezzanine floor is fire-protected and is used for storing spare parts.
Racking and rolling out at Downton: 
Downton brought in Jungheinrich to design and roll out a storage and racking system for its warehouse in Hardwicke. The Gloucester-based 3PL decided to consolidate its previous three warehouses into the site, which was purpose-built for one of its biggest customers – a UK-owned electrical household products manufacturer – which takes up the majority of the available space.
“The fact that Jungheinrich could supply a full range of materials handling equipment and design and build our racking system was very attractive,” says Michael Grant, general manager at the site.
Jungheinrich engineers installed a racking scheme, designed to meet Downton’s present and future requirements. “The actual building was, effectively, built around the racking design,” says Jungheinrich project manager Mike Smyth.
With an 11 metre high top beam level, the racking provides 12,600 pallet locations on four beam levels (plus floor level) and pallets are double stacked to reduce the number of beams required. Currently each pallet stored in the system weighs around 600kg but loads of up to 2.5 tonnes can safely be stored at each pallet location.
The 1,750mm-wide aisles are served by three wire-guided Jungheinrich EKX 515 VNA Kombis, which deliver full pallet loads to the location allocated to them in the racking by Downton’s warehouse management system.
Typically, electrical goods arrive at the site boxed and loose loaded in a container. This means that before they can be put away in the racking, each boxed item has to be handballed onto a telescopic conveyor and delivered to a marshalling area where it is scanned and built into a pre-set pallet configuration.
Each full pallet load is then shrink-wrapped, labelled and delivered by counterbalance truck to a marshalling station where it is block stacked before being taken by the EKX Kombis to the right pallet location.
The EKX Kombi trucks feature an RFID-based floor control system that automatically adjusts the truck’s operating profile to match the conditions in the warehouse. The RFID technology automatically controls the truck’s lift and travel speeds as well as aisle end braking and stopping.
The majority of outgoing orders are picked in stages. Full pallet loads are picked by the Kombis and delivered directly to specified loading bay locations, while single product orders are picked onto a pallet and delivered to a P&D location where they are marshalled, wrapped and transferred on counterbalance trucks to the correct loading bay location.
More than 30 lorry loads per day leave the site, bound for the hubs of various electrical goods retailers. “The transition from our three separate stores to our new single facility was seamless,” says Grant. “It is something of a cliche,but the one-stop-shop that Jungheinrich was able to offer simplified the management of the project considerably.”

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