Storage overhaul at Spirax Sarco

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Spirax Sarco has some 3,000 product lines, with components coming in a variety of sizes and weights, so wanted a flexible system that would improve pick efficiency, accuracy and safety.

The new system is based on BITO’s galvanised racking and features a carton live system for small parts, 800mm x 600mm XL plastic Euro containers on meshed shelving for medium parts, and pallet rack bulk storage for large parts.

The modular system has been designed to maximise flexibility, improve health and safety, increase the number of pick faces, and boost the speed of put away and picking, while using space more effectively. It also allows Spirax Sarco to complete put away, pick and cycle count simultaneously.

Finished products coming off the manufacturing line are stored in the right size container or carton, to be fed straight onto the order picking system without the need to decant, eliminating double handling.

Small parts are stored in the carton live storage system, which has two pick faces either side of the picking aisle, with four beds of flow shelves on one side and five beds on the other. The flow lanes are replenished with cartons from the aisles behind, separating pickers from lift trucks.

Dave Chamberlain, logistics manager at Spirax Sarco, says: “A key advantage with the new BITO carton live system is that we have gone from random to fixed locations and adopted the ‘first in first out’ principle. Now, there’s always an additional box of products behind the carton at the pick face and the density of storage provided by carton live allows our diverse product range to be located within the picking aisle.”

Medium sized products are mainly held in BITO’s XL plastic containers. Spirax Sarco previously used a four-legged stillage, which had the same footprint but was heavy, awkward to handle and required a specialised racking system.

The XL containers are stored on racks with seven levels of meshed shelves either side of an aisle, which is accessed by a man-up order picker. Containers are placed with the pick front opening and fork entry runners on their short side so four containers fit in each bay, helping to increase capacity by 30 per cent compared to having the broad side on the pick face.

The standardised Euro footprint throughout the facility means shelves can also hold smaller boxes, with 600mm x 400mm and 400mm x 300mm footprints, or full Euro pallets without wasting space.

Spirax Sarco’s bulk storage and larger products are stored on Euro pallets in the racking, again helping to increase versatility as containers can replace pallets if required for picking using the man-up order picker.

The new system has enabled Spirax Sarco to pick 40 per cent more than it did on average previously. “That not only shows the business is there but it also demonstrates that we can now pick it efficiently. In our old system it took 20 minutes to pick seven lines; with carton live it now only takes two minutes,” adds Chamberlain.


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