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BITO creates more room in Bidvest’s freezer

BITO Storage Solutions has provided Bidvest Logistics with a space efficient push-back racking solution, which also accommodates marshalling to optimise available space in a coldstore.

Bidvest Logistics is the leading supplier of logistics and supply chain solutions to the UK hospitality and restaurant sector, which include items such a chips and burgers for distribution to leading restaurant chains across the country. It’s a fast moving operation and having taken over a distribution centre in Hoddesdon, Hertfordshire at the beginning of 2013 Bidvest soon found that the existing racking in the specialised freezer unit did not offer quite enough capacity for the company’s growing frozen goods operation.

Bidvest turned to BITO to provide a system that would fit into a small area used for marshalling within the coldstore of approximately 150 square metres. It also has a lower ceiling height than the rest of the building and houses the coldstore’s fans.

Peter Gaunt, Operations Director at Bidvest, said: “Our challenge was a shortage of bulk storage locations, with a requirement to maintain our floor dispatch marshalling lanes. As we were operational we also required the solution to be built and installed without causing disruption to our picking and dispatch operations.”

BITO provided a competitively priced push back system to give a dense storage solution. Where standard pallet racking might get 40 pallets within the allocated space, BITO’s solution accommodates over one hundred 1200 x 1000 mm pallets – which generally have a loaded 1800mm height and a 1 tonne weight.

“Following our visit to BITO’s test centre, where we reviewed many different options to solve our challenge, we decided upon the solution that is operational today. BITO’s solution provided us with the greatest number of bulk locations with an out of operational hours installation, along with the release of the working space following each phase of the build.”

To gain the density of storage locations within the area, BITO designed a 6.35 m high structure incorporating a simple push back system on two levels with 11 pallet lanes on each level. A third level provides four lanes between the coldstore fans at the top of the wall. The push back element of structure incorporates roller lanes that feature a brake roller for every pallet position. Bidvest’s pallets are handled within the push back system on their ‘longside’ at all times.

A novel part of installation is the addition of drive-in lanes on the ground level beneath the two main levels of roller lanes. Separated for safety by mesh, the drive-in lanes give Bidvest a marshaling area for fast moving pallets, which can be placed in to the lanes and accessed very quickly by ride-on lift trucks.

Dense push back racking is extremely beneficial in terms of space saving in a coldstore. Voice technology – another boon in coldstores – is used to inform Bidvest’s Warehouse Management System of the location of any pallet for picking. Being a LIFO (Last In, First Out) system – a couple of roller bed positions are kept empty for when goods with a lower date comes in.

BITO successfully met Bidvest’s need for delivering on a short leadtime: having received the order at the end of November, BITO completed the installation by second week in January. Quite an achievement, given the needs to build the racking in a working coldstore, with a temperature of minus 20 degrees centigrade, without holding up Bidvest’s normal operation.

Edward Hutchison, managing director at BITO Storage solutions, points to a trend for placing marshalling lanes beneath dense push-back and pallet live storage. He says: “This space efficient solution allows a mixture of slower and faster goods in a single system and allows ride-on stacker trucks to quickly drive into the lanes and pick up two or three pallets.

“It is particularly suitable where a lot of pallets need to be located into a small space. Cold stores are a prime example of such a space constrained environment because, ideally, you want the smallest possible space to freeze and to work in.

“All BITO components that form this solution are manufacturered from pre-galvanised material so there will be no rusting when ambient pallets enter the system and the roller bearings are suited to working in a freezer.”

According to Peter Gaunt, BITO’s system delivers the key benefits of bulk storage to match Bidvest’s needs while also maintaining the company’s requirement for marshalling locations. “We found that working with BITO, the project was well planned and they delivered as per the agreed plan. The installation was a smooth process and each phase was delivered on time.”

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