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Enhancing warehouse performance through Dynamic Storage

By Charlie Jeary, Sales Manager, Storage Division, Spaceway Group

The recession has focused minds on the need to increase productivity and reduce labour costs in the warehouse environment, especially when it comes to the order picking process. In particular pick-to-parts order picking methods result in low productivity as order pickers spend an excessive amount of time travelling along the aisles. In order to enhance the order picking process and reduce travelling time, many companies are now adopting the concept of dynamic storage.

The benefits of dynamic storage, also known as live storage, will depend on the items being stored in the warehouse. A modern facility will normally feature a combination of storage systems, rather than one specific structure, which means that the organisation uses dynamic storage to work seamlessly alongside existing systems within their warehouse.

Dynamic Storage systems are used in all industries ranging from the car industry, electronics, despatch of toys, pharmaceutical and cosmetics distribution, in construction materials, beverages and food distribution, etc. The payback time is usually between 18 and 36 months. Additionally there are many advantages, such as low maintenance, high performance, ease of control and organisation, high degree of disposal, low cost and high turnover.

When used for pallets or containers, dynamic storage systems combine optimum space utilisation with quick accessibility. Live storage racks require only a single aisle for loading and unloading, which makes them extremely compact. Stocks are clearly arranged making control and inventory far easier. In addition time saving with dynamic storage systems is significant. Compared to more traditional storage systems, dynamic solutions can increase pick rates by factors of 4:1 or greater, which means companies are paying a quarter of their usual costs. In bulk storage systems, using either roller pallet flow or a cart pushback system as opposed to adjustable pallet racking (APR), the quantity of trucks and personnel can be reduced by more than a third.

Live storage systems can be supplied for use with pallets, cartons and tote boxes and comes in three different forms, carton live storage, pallet live storage and push back.

Carton Live Storage

This design works by inserting goods into the back of the structure and removing them from the front. The optimum solution for compact storage and efficient order picking, it consists of standard racking with strips or rollers slotted in at various levels. The slope and height of the tracks can be specifically adjusted and are mounted at an angle so when a person puts a carton into a lane, it rolls forward either to the front or behind the next carton. When the carton at the front is removed, the one behind it will roll to the front. One of the features of this system is that the cartons can be stocked 6-8 deep or even more if required, conserving space and allowing easy organisation of stock.

Pallet Live Storage

Pallet Live Storage is a system of vertical frames, horizontal beams and heavy-duty roller beds in either twin track or full width roller format. It works in exactly the same way as carton live storage except on a much larger scale. It can be serviced using different types of handling equipment, with each rack being individually designed to obtain the highest level of flexibility and productivity. Whole pallets can be stored in this way making it ideal for fast moving, first in last out (FILO) products like perishable goods that are received and despatched in large quantities. One of the main features of this product is that any size or shape of pallet can be handled.

Push Back Pallet Racking
Push back pallet racking utilises the Last In First Out (LIFO) storage principle. The system offers low investment costs, enables front accessibility of goods, increased productivity and makes automatic loading and picking possible. It uses special beams and pushback assembly sub frames running front to back in each bay. Like other live storage the tracks are mounted at an angle so when a forklift truck pushes a pallet into a bay, the one that is already there is pushed backwards. When the pallet at the front is removed, the one behind it will roll to the front. One of the features of this system is that the pallets can be stocked four deep, conserving space and allowing easy organisation of your stock.

The implementation of any single or combination of changes discussed will create additional space in a warehouse, but every warehouse has specific operational requirements that must be addressed. Uncovering ways to optimise existing warehouse operations while preparing for business changes must become primary concerns for company management. The flexibility to handle both long-term projections and short-term needs is what make operations world-class.

Case Study
Buhler Sortex, world leaders in optical sorting machinery for the food processing industry, have relocated from Pudding Mill Lane, Stratford, where they have been since 1985, to the new site four miles away. Spaceway was chosen by Buhler Sortex to provide it with an impressive and extremely functional facility using a range of storage systems including dynamic storage.

To begin the project, Spaceway’s design team set about creating a design that would turn the 1,035 square metre area into a state-of-the-art distribution centre that would also enable Buhler Sortex to introduce a product rotation system that would ensure components are used in the correct batch order. Spaceway was able 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. By utilising a variety of racking and shelving, Spaceway has met Buhler Sortex’s storage challenge of needing to accommodate a diversity of products from large machine casings to small fixings.

Spaceway designed the storage system taking into consideration the diversity of products to be stored. Ceiling height was considered and every chance to utilise space was built into the design. Eighteen lanes of pallet live racking have been designed to carry large fixtures two deep whilst 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 utilised 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.

"Spaceway was streets ahead of any other company on design and although we made a number of design changes, they quickly modified the designs without complaint", said Campbell Dixon, Production Engineering Manager at Buhler Sortex. "Due to Spaceway’s excellent designs and first rate products, we now have an impressive, more functional facility that will enable us to operate more efficiently and provide our customers with better service.

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