Automotive component manufacturer FCC Europe has improved small component picking efficiency and first in, first out stock rotation at its factory in Milton Keynes through the introduction of dynamic live picking based around full-width roller Span Track modules.
The installation was devised by The Live Storage Company to replace inefficient steel shelving and conventional racking that no longer provided an adequate solution to FCC Europe’s requirements.
“We wanted to improve stock rotation and introduce first in, first out picking,” says Mohammed Tanwir, logistics and purchasing supervisor at FCC Europe.
FCC Europe had previously been stocking ten different spring components in boxes on steel shelving and conventional racking in its production stores but recognised this had limitations. The area took up a relatively large space, it was difficult to identify items on the shelving and there was no easy way of enforcing good first in, first out stock rotation.
The frame for the installation was created by The Live Storage Company using standard racking components. The company then supplied and fitted the Span Track units in predetermined lengths and widths matched to the dimensions of the frame and the size of the boxes containing the springs. The units were simply dropped into position, supported by the beams, to create a picking face with the maximum possible density. Vertical spacing was matched to the height of the boxes so that the maximum number of picking points could be installed in the face.
The completed installation ensures maximum storage and picking capacity on the minimum possible floor space footprint. It incorporates 27 Span Track units, each holding up to ten boxes, arranged on four levels. Each track is marked and colour coded so that different components can be identified more easily for simpler picking. Staff can see what is on the shelf and complete their picks quickly and efficiently.
Items are replenished at the rear of the racking and fed by gravity down the shallow rollered incline of the Span Track module to the front face. They are presented at the optimum position for picking so that staff do not need to stretch to reach them. Because the width of each Span Track unit is matched to the dimensions of the boxes, items are presented singly and in sequence to the pickers. This has helped FCC Europe to introduce better control of first in-first out picking stock rotation.
FCC can now store all of its spring components with complete picking selectivity. Incoming supplies are now placed straight onto the racking when they arrive at the factory to eliminate unnecessary storage and handling tasks. The company plans to store and pick bearings and similar small components in the same way in the near future.
“We now have FIFO and our staff can see what is on the shelf,” said Tanwir. “Picking is more efficient and economical.”
Span Track is designed to take the abuse of busy warehouses and production areas. Units are manufactured from tempered aluminium rollers with full-length axles mounted on durable galvanised steel side channels which makes them extremely strong and robust. Full-width rollers ensure total support for cartons, bins and components with up to 300 per cent more product contact than traditional plastic wheel tracking. This also reduces the risk of items snagging which means that material flow is maintained and there is no loss of productivity. The simple drop-in design ensures the units can be installed easily without tools.