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Cargo Installs Four Storage Lifts into Bowman International

Oxfordshire based Bowman International, one of the largest stockists of bearings in Europe, have taken delivery of four Cargo vertical lift storage systems.

Bowman International recently relocated their operation to a purpose built site in Abingdon, and were keen to optimise the storage capacity of the new headquarters, by using as much height as possible. Original plans for three tiers of racking were beset with regulation restrictions, and as a result, were no longer considered feasible. The company therefore had to look at alternative storage options, and found nearby Oxfordshire based Cargo via their website.

At any one time, Bowman International carries around £1.5million stock of bearings, varying in size, and weight. The success of the company relies on arranging the manufacture and purchase of product in large volume to reduce unit cost, and therefore intelligent storage was a critical requirement. The company found that with traditional racking systems, the stock constantly required moving to create space, and it was estimated by Bowman's management that their traditional racking storage at their original Didcot site was less than 60% efficient. In addition, Bowman International could clearly identify significant space savings over the use of traditional racking, which included the walkways required between racks.

The four new 7.5m high Cargo lifts create 600sqm of shelved storage space, on a footprint of just 40sqm, representing an 80% saving on floorspace when compared to conventional shelving and racking. An estimated 50% saving in manpower costs has already been identified, together with a considerable increase in health and safety benefits to Bowman employees. Further plans to install wheeled trolleys to move the product between the lift aperture and the packing area are expected to reduce the risks associated with manual handling even more. Bowman International's Managing Director Paul Hancock confirmed that this was one of the major factors in the decision to install the Cargo storage units, he commented; “Our Health and Safety Consultants have been very impressed with the Cargo units, both their operation and the employee benefits they have brought”.

Founded in 1974, Bowman International have a current turnover of £2.5 million, and 12 employees. Future plans to expand further within the UK and into export markets, increasing UK sales by 20% and export sales from 5% to 20%, will demand increased order processing capability. Bowman have already identified the efficiency improvement in time and error-free picking achieved with the Cargo units, and will shortly implement a system whereby picking sheets are processed directly by the Cargo lifts from a link with the Sales Department. This system will identify the most efficient pick process for the order, and present the goods to the operator in a reduced time. The company is considering adding Cargo's weight cell technology to their existing and new machines. This brand new feature measures and records the weights of all product within the storage unit, thus giving the user immediate information of capacity utilisation within the Cargo-Lift, and a valuable resource for checking weight and volume of existing inventory as well as checking accuracy of new stock deliveries.

Bowman International' Managing Director, Paul Hancock said; “It was important to us that the costs of the Cargo units could be offset with real savings in terms of space and efficiency. As a direct result of this installation, we know that we can clear over 3,000 square feet to accommodate further expansion without having to extend or purchase further buildings. As a result, we will save the cost of rates, heating, lighting and maintenance, which I estimate at around £30,000 per annum. The Cargo lifts have provided us with massive volumetric saving, and I could see that in some companies, these units would offer a real alternative to moving to larger premises. I'm also a great believer in Buying British, and quickly identified the technological advantages that the Cargo Lifts offered over other European storage system manufacturers that we reviewed. Their price and delivery times were also more competitive.”

After several weeks of operation, Bowman International have already reported a 3 fold increase in picking productivity, and are making plans for the purchase of between 2 and 6 more Cargo lifts during the next 12 months.

The Cargo Lift is a computer controlled vertical lift, storage and retrieval system. On command the lift transports selected items to and from the operator, improving productivity, increasing picking speeds and reducing costs. Trays can hold up to 750kg of stock, and can move vertically up to 2.3 metres per second. The built-to-order Lifts are available in heights of 4 to 20m, and shelf widths of 2 to 4.0 meters.

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