It started with two things: a mantra of “taking it to the next level” and a cocktail napkin sketch. The Merchandise Warehouse team knew we had room for improvement. With a simple idea and a little automation, we did just that. What resulted was an increase of 14,000 pallet positions and an operational efficiency improvement of 50%. Here’s how we transformed our cold storage warehouse with the help of Radioshuttle™ and Associated Solutions.
The Merchandise Warehouse team had two major problems. First, we were maxing out on space. This left us struggling between the choices of turning away customers, doing a costly build, or investing to better utilize our existing space. Second, we had inefficient processes. Each pallet required about 12 touches and preparing outbound shipments averaged around three manhours each. With cold storage warehousing costing more than double that of a non-temperature controlled warehouse, the inefficiencies were a drain on our profits and impacted our customer rates.
Merchandise Warehouse leadership reached out to Associated Integrated Supply Chain Solutions with one major request – help us improve our efficiency with the best technology. Associated suggested the Radioshuttle™ pallet racking system.
We first decided to expand our physical footprint by building an addition to our current facility. We then wanted to ensure we maximized every cubic foot of the space to make it worth the investment. Additional pallet positions in our freeze and deep freeze areas were a high priority. The Radioshuttle™ system provided the technology and layout to accomplish our goals.
The racking system provides semi-automated pallet shuttles run on rails and operated by remote control. Pallets are placed at the entrance of the lane on the Radioshuttle™, which moves the product into position for storage. An aisle is no longer needed for a forklift to place each pallet into its permanent storage position within the lane. When the pallet needs retrieved, the Radioshuttle moves it to the entrance or exit of the lane for forklift removal.
The system creates deep lane storage, which is great for three reasons. First, it consolidates access aisles which represent empty space not generating revenue. This significantly increases the number of pallet positions available. Finally, it improves worker safety by limiting access points and creating less congestion on the floor.
The Radioshuttle™ system also moves pallets two times faster than our previous conventional approach, which means more pallets moved per operator. The reduction in forklift touches prevents product damage while maximizing the number of pallets per rack. This translates to our customers as more storage and safer products – both better for the bottom line.
The project took about two years to implement, but the results have been outstanding.
- The deep lane storage created 14,000 new pallet positions of cold storage for our customers.
- The improved racks created better SKU organization and sped up slotting and throughput.
- The pallet shuttle and despacing conveyor systems reduced pallet touches from 12 to six.
- The improved warehouse layout reduced outbound shipping manhours by nearly 50%.
Our warehouse manager described the results best. “We added a lot more storage capacity, but now we’re also a lot more efficient. So, it’s like we got bigger, faster, stronger.”
Taking it to the Next Level
At Merchandise Warehouse, we constantly challenge ourselves to think ahead. We take our “next level” commitment seriously by adding services that drive customer value. If your business can use a partner constantly working on efficiency and effectiveness, contact our team. Let us take you inside our storage facilities to see what next-level warehousing really looks like.