Home >> Sales and Marketing >> What It Takes To Make The Sale

What It Takes To Make The Sale

Sales Success StoriesThey’re back! Since The MHEDA Journal‘s last issue dedicated to Sales Success Stories in Fall 2004, weather, politics, technology, mergers, economics and a host of other things have contributed to changing the landscape of the material handling marketplace. Throughout it all, MHEDA Members have not let up and have continued to chase sales.All that dedication is paying off. Projects that were put on hold a few cycles ago are moving forward. Customers are spending money again, and MHEDA Members have taken advantage of the growth. Expansions, relocations and redesigns have kept MHEDA Distributors busy during 2005 and 2006.

It’s a competitive market, so distributors and manufacturers are continuing to look for ways to sell product besides “lowest price.” In the Sales Success Stories that follow, distributors tell the tales of how they are adding value and getting sales by creatively utilizing various techniques. One method is to focus on past successes and relay a message of experience and reliability to the customer. Another is the promotion of post-sale and aftermarket service. Most important, distributors are focusing on creating and capitalizing on their partnerships with both manufacturers and customers.

To view a particular company, click their name below, or simply scroll down through the article.
Action Installation
Advanced Handling Systems
Advanced Handling Systems Inc.
Allied Equipment Mfg. Corp.
Applied Handling
Arbor Material Handling
Atlas Lift Truck
Buffalo Materials Handling
Container Systems Inc.
Continental Lift Truck Corp.
Equipment For Industry
Felix F. Loeb Inc.
IBT Inc.
Indoff Inc.
JBS Cranes & Accessories
J.M. Equipment Company
McCombs-Wall Inc.
Morrison Company
Nelson Equipment Company Inc.
Papé Material Handling
Shoppa’s Material Handling
Storage Equipment
Storage Solutions Inc.
Towlift Inc.
Wisconsin Lift Truck Corp.

Action Installation Makes a Splash with Customer

Summary: Teardown, move and re-installation of pallet rack completed without interrupting operations or incurring overtime charges.
Distributor: Action Installation
Manufacturer: Mecalux

The biggest demand for pools comes, as one might expect, during the summertime. So when a pool company in San Antonio, Texas, needed to move into a larger facility by June 1, it created a logistical headache for the installer, Action Installation (San Antonio, TX).

The project required the disassembly, relocation and reassembly of 60 shelving units, 90 bays of standard selective pallet rack, several more bays of cantilever pallet rack and a 1,900 sq. ft. rack-supported mezzanine/pick module from a hodgepodge of manufacturers, plus installation of 25 bays of new Mecalux pallet rack. All of that had to occur in such a way as to not disrupt the day-to-day operation of the customer. “This is a typical situation for the installation business,” says Action Installation General Manager Mark Huffmaster. “Customers who need more storage space are not ready to clear a large area for the installer to work in. If they had space available, they wouldn’t need more storage.”

New pallet rack from Mecalux

New pallet rack from Mecalux augmented the teardown and relocation of a pool company's warehouse in the middle of the busy summer season.

The distributor sales rep took Huffmaster to meet with the customer, and Huffmaster realized that the original quote given to the customer might not work. Originally, the project was quoted Monday through Friday, regular hours. “Once the customer said we needed to work around their daily operations, I had to let the customer know that it was certainly doable, but they may have to pay for overtime,” says Huffmaster. After some negotiation, a deal was reached where if overtime pay was needed, the customer would pay for it.

Action Installation’s team of 13 began tearing down the rack on Thursday, and the crew worked Friday night and through the weekend. The new facility was about a mile away, far enough that the material had to be banded onto trucks for transport. Equipment crews worked at both locations simultaneously loading and unloading. Several truckloads were necessary to move the material back and forth.

During the week, a small crew from Action Installation was at the site and did what it could while not interrupting operations. By the end of the following weekend, the project was complete. As it turns out, overtime pay was not an issue. “It didn’t come to that, but you never know,” Huffmaster says. “You must brace for the worst-case scenario and then everyone is happy with the results.”

Continental Provides Hurricane Relief

Summary: Twelve trucks from distributor’s specialty equipment rental fleet get customer up and running after hurricane.
Distributor: Continental Lift Truck Corporation
Manufacturer: Crown Equipment Corporation, Cascade Corporation, Hyster Company, Nissan Forklift Corporation, Toyota Material Handling, U.S.A., Inc.

Everyone knows about the confusion that resulted following the catastrophic landfall of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita last year. Luckily for the distribution center of a large home improvement retail chain, Continental Lift Truck Corporation (Jordan, MN) was able to provide a little bit of clarity.

The distribution center, located in Mount Vernon, Texas, had previously ordered 12 LP lift trucks with four-way hydraulics and 48 x 48 carton clamp attachments from its normal distributor, the Crown Lift Trucks factory store in Grand Prairie, Texas. Once the hurricane hit, however, the trucks that were to fill out the DC order were shipped out to the recovery zones. The customer’s national account rep called John Crouch, Crown rental and used manager at the Grand Prairie store, but he did not have anything in stock. Crouch checked with a few other branches, but all available equipment was sent to help with the cleanup effort.

Continental Lift Truck Corporation shipped forklifts

Continental Lift Truck Corporation shipped forklifts, all with carton clamp attachments, to a customer nearly 1,000 miles away.

Good thing Crouch had a pre-established five-year relationship with Continental Lift Truck, a wholesaler who accepts trades for older Crown equipment and provides some off-brand equipment. This time, Continental really came through, despite being located almost 1,000 miles away. Continental keeps a fleet of about 150 short-term rental trucks, with varying capacities and specs. “We happened to have what they needed with the attachments here in stock. It’s not uncommon for us to have what others may consider an unusual order,” says Mike Sibulkin, Continental’s vice president. “Our rental fleet is full of specialty equipment that other people don’t normally deal with.”

Continental Rental Coordinator Duc Tran contacted the end-user to let them know what was coming and when to expect it, so there were no surprises when the equipment was delivered. Within a week, three truckloads of forklifts were shipped directly from Continental’s headquarters in Minnesota to the customer’s distribution center in Texas.

The trucks came from a mixture of manufacturers, including Toyota, Hyster and Nissan. Each truck was fitted with a 48 in. x 48 in. carton clamp from Cascade Corporation. “We lucked out to find that many that late in the game with the attachments,” Crouch says. Crown mechanics serviced the account during the four-month rental period, from September 2005 into January 2006, after which they were sent back to Continental. The deal exceeded $75,000. “The package worked out great for everybody,” Crouch adds. “Continental helped us take care of our customer to get them through the peak caused by the hurricane.”

New Product Line Pays Immediate Dividends for WLT

Summary: Manufacturer walks distributor salesperson through sale of new product line.
Distributor: Wisconsin Lift Truck Corporation
Manufacturer: Besco Sales Inc.

The relationship between manufacturer Besco Sales and distributor Wisconsin Lift Truck (Brookfield, WI) got off to a fast start. Besco Vice President Terry Hollen used his MHEDA contacts to locate dealers to sell his product. His timing was right when he called David Bruckner, material handling systems manager at Wisconsin Lift Truck. “I had been looking for an exclusive line of balers for some time,” Bruckner says. “When Besco approached us, it looked like a good opportunity.” The distributor agreed to take on Besco’s line of vertical balers in December 2005. Besco sent WLT some product literature, which was in turn sent to the company’s sales representatives.

Besco Vertical Baler

Networking through MHEDA led to the sale of a Besco Vertical Baler.

Before they could even set up a formal sales training session on the new product, Wisconsin Lift Truck’s Ed Hansley, sales rep for Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and Northeastern Wisconsin, found an interested customer in a maker of large, portable power plants and motor controls in Iron Mountain, Michigan. “Ed had never sold a baler before, and I had only sold a couple of reconditioned ones. This was a very new product and a new vendor for us,” Bruckner says.

Besco’s Hollen stepped in and guided Hansley through the sale of a 60HD Vertical Baler. “This really cemented our new relationship with Besco,” Bruckner says. “Terry worked with Ed, who was totally unversed as to even the questions to ask to sell this piece of equipment. He just knew the customer needed a baler. Terry walked him through, and the baler was delivered, plugged in and that was the last we’ve heard of it. That’s a good sale.”

The $9,500 sale was made in December 2005, and the product was shipped in January 2006. So new was Wisconsin Lift Truck to this type of sale that they didn’t include the necessary baling wire. “The customer was conversant with balers and realized it as soon as he got the machine,” Bruckner says. “We called and had a package sent right away.”

Shortly after, Hollen went to WLT to provide a half-day on-site sales training course that included a sales manual. Now Wisconsin Lift Truck employees are well-prepared to sell balers, and with the helpful backing of Besco Sales, they can expect a lot more to be forthcoming.

Allied Equipment Puts Stamp on Distribution Center

A seven-year relationship with a local logistics provider continues to pay dividends for Allied Equipment Corporation (Indianapolis, IN). When Mail Terminal Services (MTS) acquired some additional space within the same building it had occupied for a number of years, they wanted to expand without having to build. They called on Allied President Rick Mize to help them utilize the maximum aisle space with rack systems and narrow aisle trucks.

Summary: Product knowledge and DVD demonstration lead to order of five trucks.
Distributor: Allied Equipment Manufacturing Corp.
Manufacturer: Narrow Aisle, Crown Battery Manufacturing Company

MTS designed its own warehouse, with recommendations from Allied, and settled on 8-foot wide aisles. Allied had recently taken on the Flexi line of trucks by Narrow Aisle and recommended them for the customer’s operation. Allied Territory Manager Bob Buchanan had a promotional DVD of the product to show the customer. Buchanan and Mize played the demo disk on a laptop for the customer, who was intrigued immediately.

The next step was to take the customer to see a Flexi truck in action. Mize and Buchanan brought in Narrow Aisle Sales Manager Jeff Fisher, and the three took the potential customer to a user’s site. “Jeff was able to explain the machine’s capabilities and played an integral role in securing the order,” Mize says. Having seen the truck in action, the customer instantly ordered five units, plus two Crown batteries and a charger for each truck. “It really made sense for their operation,” Mize says. “These trucks are not inexpensive, so for a customer to step up and order five of them really says something.”

Narrow Aisle was able to deliver most of the trucks within six weeks, and the rest came just a couple of weeks later. “Support during and after the sale is critical to any manufacturer-distributor relationship,” Mize says. “It all comes together to make the deal.”

The total sale was around $270,000. “It was a perfect match,” Mize says. “We do all the service work and take care of all their equipment for them, so it’s been just a real good relationship.”

Papé Produces for Customer

A large produce company in Monterey County, California, handles boxed and loose lettuce at a distribution center. It’s very time-critical because they have a short window to get perishable goods from the fields into the cooling tubes and then into cold storage for distribution. This company had used a mixed fleet of lift trucks for many years. However, when analyzing their costs and downtime, they concluded that they could do more work with fewer pieces of equipment.

Summary: The sale of over 100 forklifts results from distributor-manufacturer collaboration.
Distributor: Papé Material Handling
Manufacturer: Hyster Company, EnerSys

The Salinas, California, branch of the Fresno division of Papé Material Handling (Eugene, OR) had previously sold this customer a Hyster H400 12-pallet handler and E60XM electrics with good results, so Papé’s Fresno Division General Manager Dennis Brown and Territory Manager Scott Golding worked with the customer to replace its duke’s mixture of four or five different brands. “The produce industry is a very high-paced, here-and-now type industry. Consistent equipment performance is critical,” Brown says.

Brown contacted Hyster Regional Vice President Tom Saputo, and the group worked with Regional Finance Manager for Hyster Capital Steve Johnson to crunch the numbers. “Luckily, our track record for parts, service and equipment with this account speaks for itself. Everything—the financing, the specifications, past and future performance guarantees—helped sell the package, and the factory was right there with us all the way.” Papé now has a single source agreement with the customer, who agreed to a planned leasing and replacement cycle.

The initial agreement is for 102 forklifts, 80 of which are 6,000-pound Hyster E60Z electric trucks. Hyster S60FT and H60FT 6K LPG cushion and pneumatic tire forklifts comprise the balance. Each forklift came equipped with two EnerSys Superhog tubular batteries, and many had single-double or double splitter attachments. The multimillion-dollar sale took over four months to coordinate and finalize. Delivery began in the summer of 2006, and will continue for the duration of the year.

The number of trucks, unique specifications, lead time issues and financing plans made the sale unusual, but Papé and Hyster worked together throughout. “We worked with them from day one on the quoting all the way through lease costs, creative warranties and financing terms. They were very good, either addressing the exact requirement or giving us a Plan B,” Brown says. “Our philosophy is to make it easy for the customer to do business with us, and we like to see our manufacturer partners doing the same thing.”

Cold Call Pays Off For Felix F. Loeb

There’s still a place in sales for the old-fashioned cold call. Just ask the team at Felix F. Loeb Inc. (Romeoville, IL), who turned a cold call into a $160,000 sale in May 2006.

Summary: Modular closed steel shelving and drawers free up pallet space for customer.
Distributor: Felix F. Loeb Inc.
Manufacturer: Rousseau Metal

An international filter manufacturer has its Midwestern distribution center located in Northwest Indiana. The customer was using pallet racking to store all types of products, from single 3-inch cubical boxes to full-size pallets. Of course, this was not a good utilization of the space.

Felix F. Loeb President Claas Schlottmann and Sales Representative David Holston demonstrated to the customer that modular shelving could greatly enhance their racking system. Schlottmann and Holston stacked sample sections of shelving to show the customer that the small boxes stored on 24-inch-deep shelving would still be a waste of space. “The small boxes were taking up large amounts of space in a pallet/bulk rack area. We demonstrated to the customer that using modular drawers in the shelving would even improve the space utilization of the shelving,” Schlottmann says. From that demonstration, the customer went ahead with the purchase.

Modular drawers enclosed in Rousseau Metal steel shelving

Modular drawers enclosed in Rousseau Metal steel shelving eliminated 225 partial pallets.

The initial sale of $120,000 was for 384 sections of steel shelving. Schlottmann and Holston worked with the customer to take all the small products off pallets and move them into the modular shelving. “We discovered we could eliminate 225 partial pallets of product from their racking system by installing modular drawers in the shelving,” Schlottmann notes.

Each drawer is 48 in. wide by 24 in. deep by 6 in. high, has 12 compartments, and has a capacity of 400 pounds. “The best part of the project is that we only needed to put drawers in 20 percent of the shelving units,” Schlottmann notes. The drawers cost an additional $40,000, bumping the total cost of the sale up to $160,000.

The open pallet positions are now used to store full pallets of products, allowing the customer to stop using an outside storage firm. “We proved to the customer that the ideas we recommended had actual value for them,” Schlottmann says. “We promised flexibility to allow for future change, which we were able to prove before the installation was complete.”

Service Works for Buffalo Materials Handling

Aesop said, “United we stand, divided we fall.” For Buffalo Materials Handling (Cheektowaga, NY) Sales Manager Joe Kaltenbacher, that approach paid off in a $250,000 sale in July 2006.

Summary: Selling service with distributor-supplier partnership.
Distributor: Buffalo Materials Handling
Manufacturer: C&D Technologies, Crown Equipment Corporation, Battery Handling Systems, Flow-Rite Controls

Ashley Furniture moved into the Western New York market about two years ago with stores in Buffalo and Rochester, and was utilizing a small warehouse near each location. However, Ashley was consolidating its warehousing into a new distribution center in Batavia, New York, midway between the two cities. During the planning phase of the new warehouse, they called on Buffalo Materials Handling Territory Manager Jason Larson for some assistance with forklift equipment.

Larson made a joint sales and service call to Ashley with Bill Larkin, senior service technician from C&D Technologies. Together, the two analyzed the customer site, reviewed their planned operations and listened to their concerns. Larson and Larkin received an order for a turnkey project consisting of four Crown Order Pickers, eight batteries and four chargers from C&D Technologies, a Flow-Rite Single Point watering system, and a Battery Extractor and Rack from Battery Handling Systems.

“The purpose of the combined distributor and manufacturer visit was to express the unity of both companies and the benefits of single sourcing through a united front of Buffalo Materials Handling and C&D,” Kaltenbacher explains. “The project was sold not only on the quality products provided by both Crown and C&D, but, more importantly, the service capabilities of both companies. The customer placed all their trust with us and our suppliers, and the service component is what proved pivotal.”

Pipe Dreams Come True for Container Systems

A plumbing supply company in the Chicagoland area moved to a new distribution center in Richmond, Illinois, that was to serve as a more centralized location for its three other facilities. The new facility required storage for sections of piping and tubing that ranged in length from 12 to 24 feet. The customer turned to Container Systems Inc. (Westmont, IL) and sales representative Rob Kruger, with whom the customer had developed a good working relationship during previous warehouse installations. They trusted his counsel based on the success of those projects.

Summary: Heavy-duty product requires heavy-duty storage rack.
Distributor: Container Systems Inc.
Manufacturer: West Point Rack

The most recent racking system needed to be capable of storing hundreds of thousands of pounds of steel piping. “It is a heavy product, with each bundle ranging from 8,000 to 10,000 pounds,” Kruger says. “Plus, the long items wouldn’t fit on any standard racking. We needed to develop a new way for them to use their vertical space to condense the storage area.” Kruger recommended Heavy-Duty Cantilever from West Point Rack.

Kruger and CSI provided 25 back-to-back sections, each 20 feet long. The racking, placed in half of the customer’s 80,000 sq. ft. warehouse, is able to handle the majority of the customer’s incoming inventory. It also has vertical adjustability, allowing the plumbing supplier to change the height of the arms quickly if necessary.

Once Kruger drew up a layout to fit the flow of the customer’s facility, Reva Bily at West Point worked up the appropriate quote. “West Point Rack made it a very easy process,” says Kruger. “Quotes were returned quickly, and delivery was on time with no hiccups.” Kruger was especially happy with the alacrity of the West Point staff. “The customer only had a four-week window. They needed to have the new building ready to handle some products that would otherwise have been routed into one of their other three facilities.” West Point delivered, and the $45,000 sale was completed in June 2006.

Morrison Secures the Sale

Three years ago, Morrison Company (Cleveland, OH) installed six pick modules for a major retail drug chain in their Ohio distribution center, one of which was designed as a four-level-high pick module in a secured room. In the fall of 2005, the client contacted Morrison Company to ask that the top floor of the pick module be redesigned to accommodate the chain’s controlled substance area. “They had to change their whole operation for what they called a C2 area—a vault for controlled substances,” says Morrison Company President Jim Green. “In order to do that, they had to take what was on the floor area and move it up to the top level of the pick module. They needed to squeeze more room out of the same area.”

Summary: Reconfigured pick module provides retail drug chain with increased space.
Distributor: Morrison Company
Manufacturer: Interlake Material Handling

Morrison Company Senior Project Engineer Steve Horton and Manager of Engineering Miguel Capetillo spent six months examining the project and considering ways to reconfigure the installation. Each level is 12,000 sq. ft., and Morrison was charged with turning the top level of the pick module into solid floor with twice as much floor load capacity as originally designed. Openings of 8 ft. by 10 ft. had to be floored over and made capable of sustaining 200 psf. “We had to take something that previously had been designed for people walking around and picking boxes onto a conveyor, and turn that into a solid floor where people could walk with electric walkie trucks with pallet loads on the fourth level,” says Green. “It was nothing like what we had designed the pick module for. It changed the whole operation for the client.”

Morrison Company relied on Interlake racking components combined with specially designed structural steel beams used to span the openings in order to complete the job. No support steel was added vertically from the top floor down to the concrete; the challenge was to add horizontal structure and transfer that into existing columns. That wasn’t the only challenge. Because the floor Morrison Company was designing would be used for controlled substances, no openings of larger than half an inch were allowed anywhere through the floor or the fencing. In addition, the work was done in cooperation with the general contractor who was overseeing the installation of the vault system.

The installation lasted seven weeks and cost $500,000. In the end, Morrison Company accomplished a daunting feat of engineering, and the client could rest secure in the knowledge that they’d chosen the best team for the job.

Arbor Answers “Why Move” Question with $300K Sale

Arbor Material Handling (Willow Grove, PA) Allied Sales Manager Ed Donnon has his own version of the famous CBS quiz show, The $64,000 Question. Donnon calls his the $300,000 question.

Summary: Two distribution centers combined into one more efficient facility.
Distributor: Arbor Material Handling
Manufacturer: The Raymond Corporation, Scotland Rack

A local company had two distribution facilities located a half-mile apart on the same road. Beginning in 2002, Donnon kept telling the company that Arbor could make them more efficient, but, he says, “it wasn’t until their lease ran out in 2005 that they finally took me seriously.” When the company, which manufactures surgical gowns abroad and then imports and distributes them in the United States, called Donnon for help laying out a new building, he asked, “Why move into a new building when we can put everything into one of your existing buildings?” The answer resulted in a $300,000 sale.

Previously, the company picked items in both facilities off bulk racks to shopping carts that were manually pushed down the aisles. Reserve storage above the racks was accessed with rolling ladders. In one of the two buildings, orders from both facilities were consolidated and put into a sorter for shipping. “We told them we could do everything in one facility and at least mimic the current pick time. We extended their existing bulk shelving higher and put in wire-guided vehicles to go through the aisles carrying a person and a cart,” Donnon notes.

wire-guided Raymond VNA order picker truck

A wire-guided Raymond VNA order picker truck with the customer's homemade order picking platform holding a cart partitioned to enable four orders to be picked at once. The truck is oriented to acquire a guidance wire and enter the aisle.

Arbor Material Handling worked with Scotland Rack to provide the bulk shelving extensions, which extended the frame of the 30-inch deep rack from 10 feet to 15 feet. The average row length in the longest part of the warehouse is about 110 feet, including a 5-foot walkway in the center. “We were splicing onto existing pieces, so we had to make sure they would have the necessary capacity. We also had to make sure we met the current height-to-depth ratios,” Donnon says. “Throughout the installation, the manufacturer sent the parts we needed. I’m sure that was a strain on them, but they were wonderful supporting our installation crew without congesting the customer’s operations.”

The customer needed to know the schedule in advance so they could clear product out of the racks, so the installer, MJA Installations, coordinated day-to-day activities. Much of the rack needed the existing shelves repositioned, the frames extended and the rows moved to accept the wire-guided Very Narrow Aisle trucks, all of which needed to be done while the customer performed daily operations.

The new system uses VNA order picker forklifts from The Raymond Corporation. “I worked closely with Gary Smith, our Raymond forklift territory manager, to nail down the clearances, because the aisles were very tight,” Donnon says. The customer had no forklifts at all prior to the remodeling, so they rented the forklifts at first to make sure this new system would work. “As it proved to be a working system, they elected to purchase. It has since grown from three to four trucks.”

At the same time Arbor was installing the shelving, forklifts and two loops of wire guidance for the trucks, the customer switched over to a homespun warehouse management system. An onboard laptop computer says which articles go into which one of four bins on the back of the forklift, which are then taken to a self-designed put-to-light sortation system. “Shelving was lined up with bins, and a voice-directed put-to-bin system consolidated the order. The order is taken down to packaging, bagged, tagged and sent out,” Donnon says. “As a result, they’re at the same or better pick rates right now, they’re doing it all out of one building, and we modestly increased the storage space to give them a little bit of growth. We also converted their halide lights to T-5 fluorescent lighting to save them energy in half the building.”

The project took about nine weeks to install and was completed in the fourth quarter of 2005.

Quick IBT Response Helps Customer Recovery

On the Sunday after Thanksgiving 2005, a rare November tornado damaged the factory of an IBT (Merriam, KS) customer, a second tier automotive supplier, near Kansas City. The F-1 storm (winds between 73 and 112 mph) toppled two walls and damaged several major conveyor systems at the customer’s site.

IBT enlisted a “Rapid Response Team” consisting of employees from the sales and engineering departments to go survey the damage. By 3:00 p.m. Monday, IBT Engineering Project Manager Jim Boatright, Local Sales Representative Chris Sharp and Engineers Wes Booth and Jeff Larsen were at the site figuring out a replacement system. “We would have been there sooner,” Boatright says, “but the plant was unsafe to enter until that time.”

Summary: Distributor’s “Rapid Response Team” rebuilds customer system in four days following tornado damage.
Distributor: IBT Inc.
Manufacturer: Hytrol Conveyor Company

In addition to the damaged conveyors, the customer’s finished goods inventory was left unstable and they had no shipping docks. “The manufacturing end of the plant was close to recovery, but getting goods shipped was going to require conveyors. Before we could get them in place, we had to design them, get them onto the job site and get them up and running,” Boatright says.

The team quickly created a design for a replacement conveying system. The new system would require a 90-degree turn to avoid the unsafe portions of the building and ship the finished goods out a side door. The items being conveyed were pallets containing goods that weigh more than 200 pounds, and flowing at the rate of 60 units per hour.

After midnight that night, Boatright completed the design drawings and sent them to Phil Hendrix and Jim Holland at Hytrol Conveyor Company. “I didn’t have an opportunity to send it through their usual channels, so I sent it to the people I knew, got some sleep and was on the telephone with them at 8:00 a.m. Tuesday.”

Boatright’s design featured 200 feet of powered conveyor, eight drive units and 20 pneumatic, pop-up stops to control the flow of goods. Hytrol cut their standard turnaround time in half to meet the needs of IBT and the customer. Hytrol shipped the order at 9:00 p.m. Tuesday, and it was at the customer plant by 6:00 a.m. Wednesday.

The Rapid Response Team tracked down some miscellaneous components from local vendors and had the plant back up and running by noon on Thursday, about 84 hours after the storm struck. (Once reconstruction of the factory was complete, IBT worked with the customer to design a more permanent solution.)

“We talk a lot about customer service at IBT, and we believe that we give it in every exchange,” Boatright says. “But that week after Thanksgiving gave me an opportunity to really stretch the concept. Our customer recognized and greatly appreciated our efforts.”

EFI Drums Up Solution

Summary: Custom-engineered drum handler consolidates customer equipment and eliminates worker injury.
Distributor: Equipment For Industry
Manufacturer: Morse Manufacturing Company

PPG Industries’ Cleveland, Ohio, paint mixing facility was having a problem with injuries to workers unloading and handling 55-gallon drums of paint pigments that each weighed almost 600 pounds. The process called for employees to manually remove a drum from a skid, transport it to the mixing tank, pick it up and dispense the material. Sometimes operators would physically have to push the drums over a distance of several feet. More recently, they used a piece of equipment to remove the drum from the skid, but that was the only use for that piece of equipment.

The customer called on its longtime supplier, Equipment For Industry (Cleveland, OH), for a more ergonomic and efficient way to do the operation. President Rick Andrews stepped in with a solution—a modified 515S Drum Handler from Morse Manufacturing Company.

Morse Manufacturing Company's custom-built drum handler

Morse Manufacturing Company's custom-built drum handler was the solution for a customer's paint mixing facility.

Andrews contacted Morse Application Engineer Bob Mozo, with whom he has collaborated for nearly 20 years on various products, to custom-design a piece of equipment that could handle the entire process. PPG uses different formulas that require different amounts of pigments to come up with certain colors, so it was also important to have a meter to measure how much pigment was being poured into the tank. Andrews conducted a number of conference calls between engineers at Morse and PPG to define the issues and come up with some solutions.

After about two weeks, the result was the modified 515S. “We took a standard drum handler and shortened up the outrigger legs so that we could get the machine close enough to the skid to remove the drum,” Andrews explains. “Then with shorter legs, we had to counterbalance the unit to keep it stable. We developed a rotating crank device to allow for smooth rotation that could be easily monitored.” The unit has a dispensing height of 60 inches and an overall height of 78 inches. Since it is used in an explosion-proof area, the equipment features an air motor rather than an electric motor and an intrinsically safe scale instead of the standard scale.

Since the original unit was purchased last year, PPG has ordered four more, each with a minor modification. The controls were all relocated on one side so the operator can see the scale monitor and doesn’t need to move around to use the hand crank to rotate the drums. The floor lock was also moved to the same side to make it easy for the operator to do the whole operation while standing next to the drum.

Though it was a challenge to find a piece of equipment to handle all the operations, Andrews and Mozo accomplished the goal. Each unit cost roughly $16,000. The most recent was shipped in January 2006, and Andrews expects more on the way soon.

AHS Drinks Up Sales Success

Steve Schwietert, director of integration services at Advanced Handling Systems (Cincinnati, OH), and Mike Honious, vice president of engineering for Ozburn-Hessey Logistics, worked together to design a solution in one of OH Logistics’ distribution centers in Dallas, Texas. OH Logistics operates warehouse space throughout North America and provides end-to-end supply chain management solutions.

Summary: Sorting system adds value for customer.
Distributor: Advanced Handling Systems
Manufacturer: TGW-ERMANCO

Advanced Handling worked with OH Logistics to design a system that handles both full-case and split-case picking. “It is a very simple system that allows OH Logistics to streamline some of its processes,” says Schwietert. “We were pleased with the speed of implementation on this product,” commented Honious. “What we offer our clients is flexibility, scalability and visibility. This sorter allows us to add value for our clients.”

The final system featured roughly 90 feet of TGW-ERMANCO Narrow Belt Sorter for the shipping sorter and about 200 feet of CRUZBelt for the pick conveyor. Seven divert locations deliver both full and split cases to the shipping dock, sorted by client ID number. Once the cases arrive at the dock, the operator takes the cartons off the lanes and packs pallets for distribution. Waves of product run continuously throughout the day. The medium-rate system sorts about 50 cartons per minute.

The previous system was only able to tell the picker how many cartons to expect, not when an order was complete. So AHS also designed a carton counter. “We had to give them some visibility to let them know when each entire order had been diverted to the shipping lane,” Schwietert explains. “We designed a simple software screen to give them that information, so their operators would know all the cartons had been delivered to the dock and they could start loading product onto the trailers.”

The system is a complete success, and the companies are currently discussing plans for a similar system to be utilized in another of OH Logistics’ distribution centers.

Atlas Helps Customer Become Toast of the Town

Summary: Electric stackers help customer store seasonal items.
Distributor: Atlas Lift Truck
Manufacturer: Mobile Industries

It may seem strange to want to store an item like stale bread. Not for companies that produce croutons, a seasonal item typically produced in the fall.

One such company had been paying for an outside storage location for their croutons, but following the 2005 crouton season, they determined it was costing too much. The company called on longtime partner Atlas Lift Trucks (Schiller Park, IL), and Customer Service Sales Representative Ken Kapela, for a solution.

FTAFC120 electric stacker from Mobile Industries

A FTAFC120 electric stacker from Mobile Industries was placed in each of a customer's 20 locations to help store croutons.

After some initial talk, the buzz cooled off until spring when the customer began looking ahead to the 2006 crouton season. “There were lots of ideas, probing and planning six months prior but they really got serious again in March,” Kapela says. By April, Kapela had talked with the crouton maker’s purchasing agent and determined that it didn’t really make sense for the client to pay for off-site storage of a seasonal item.

The customer eventually decided to store the croutons inside their own jobber facilities across the Midwest from Pennsylvania to Iowa. “We decided to take the excess inventory and put it in their own locations for when the manufacturing plants gear up for the crouton season,” Kapela says. Double stacking seemed to be the way to go, so Kapela recommended manual electric stackers. “The machines are generally light usage except for the heavy use that occurs during the fall when croutons are in-season. Plus, they were looking at return on investment and determined they could justify the cost within 12 months.”

Kapela sold the customer one Mobile FTAFC120 electric stacker for each of its 20 locations throughout the Midwest division. Each machine has a lift capacity of 1,500 pounds to handle the 700 to 900 pound pallet loads. Kapela credits Mobile with perfecting the exact specifications required by the customer, including adjustable straddles, a battery indicator and a fifth wheel.

All were delivered by the end of May, completing a $48,000 sale. The stackers have worked out so well that Kapela is in the process of working on an order for the client’s Southern Division.

Towlift Rolls With the Punches

Not every sale is a nicely packaged, cut-and-dried process. For Bill McDowell, manager of engineering at Towlift (Cleveland, OH), a project for a large food supplier turned out to be a three-year exercise in persistence and adaptation. But it also turned into a $3 million sale.

Summary: Change in product packaging results in re-design of customer application.
Distributor: Towlift Inc.
Manufacturer: Creative Storage Systems, Cat Lift Trucks, Hancock Rack, Cascade Corporation

In the summer of 2003, the client began running out of warehouse room in its plant. Towlift had the forklift contract in one of the customer’s local plants, so the forklift division recommended Towlift engineers to help with the warehouse project. The customer’s original concept featured FIFO inventory control. “The initial design totally automated everything from the end of the assembly line to handle 21 pallets, a fully palletized truckload, and stack it two high on top of each other,” says McDowell. McDowell worked with Creative Storage Systems on a specially designed horizontal pallet flow system with Hancock Rack heavy-duty structural racking. However, as review of the space continued, it was clear that the customer didn’t have enough vertical clearance for a 21-pallet system.

For the next year, the client investigated solutions with other vendors. Several were considered, but all were deemed too expensive. The customer came back to McDowell and asked Towlift how to make the system work. Towlift was able to fit in a four-high, 13-deep system that met the customer’s demands.

Concern about controlling the 4,500-pound pallets without jamming the system was allayed when Creative Storage arranged for the customer to visit a Creative Storage Systems installation in Richmond, Indiana, that used similar pallet sizes and weight loads at 18 deep. The customer saw that and ordered a prototype bay. “The prototype system was actually five-high, with a single in the bottom and two double stacks above it, so that both single and double stacks could be tested at the same time,” McDowell says.

As testing ensued, the customer switched some of its packaging from metal containers to plastic, causing some of the double-stacked pallets to squash. “It was causing a lot of product damage, so we determined which loads would work as doubles and which loads would work only as a single.”

double-stacked pallet flow system from Creative Storage Systems

A double-stacked pallet flow system from Creative Storage Systems solved the warehousing need for a food supplier.

Towlift then created two different systems. One is four high with four single levels, and the other is four high with two double stacks. About 4,000 pallet locations of the single-high lanes were completed in 2005, and Towlift is in the process of completing about 10,000 double-high pallet locations in two plants. “We’ve now installed some of these different systems within four different plants in California, Texas, North Carolina and Ohio,” McDowell says. “The systems reduce their storage space and give them better product density in their existing buildings.”

The long process made it even more rewarding for McDowell. “There were some bumps, but Creative Storage did a very nice job working with us to develop standard componentry manufactured to slightly different arrangements,” McDowell says. “They provided the customer a side guide rail system, pallet entry guides, extra braking tests and even maintenance manuals.” McDowell also praises the work of Cat Lift Trucks, which provided special fork truck designs to make sure the lift heights would work for the system’s 13 6,000-lb. and 8,000-lb. electrics with Cascade single-double attachments.

Now that this phase of the project is complete, McDowell looks forward to continued work on the systems. “The next steps are working with them on different types of lift trucks and going to a six-high system with three double stacks. We’re also coordinating the column spacing in the ceiling along with the lift trucks, aisles and horizontal transportation equipment to make the loading and unloading of these systems quicker and faster with less equipment.”

Indoff Goes Fishing

Sometimes, addressing a customer’s need is only the beginning. Just ask Scott Paisley, sales partner at Indoff (St. Louis, MO), who just last year collaborated with 3D Storage Systems to help Franklin, Wisconsin-based Central Aquatics, a maker of aquariums, solve a storage problem. At the customer’s request, Paisley and Kevin Minkhorst, vice president of sales at 3D Storage Systems, developed a system that sits in an unused recessed dock inside the warehouse. It’s supported in the pit, which is about four feet below ground. The pushback system is six-deep and the first level starts at grade in the warehouse.

Summary: Pushback rack system installed inside recessed loading dock.
Distributor: Indoff Inc.
Manufacturer: 3D Storage Systems

Based on the success of that project, Central Aquatics wanted to incorporate pushback as an integral part of expanded storage plans when this facility was chosen as the main distribution center for four divisions. “They were pleased with the pushback 3D provided prior to this, so they wanted to incorporate pushback into a number of areas for dense storage,” Paisley explains.

Paisley and Minkhorst, came to survey the customer’s site. The existing product mix required very little pallet rack. A typical load averaged 80 inches tall and generally was stable enough for floor-stacking two high. The double stacking on the floor was only utilizing about two-thirds of the 25-foot clearance in the warehouse, however. Most of the new products destined for this facility were suited to pallet rack storage plus they also were going to a new SAP business system that required defined locations. Utilizing the vertical space for new product as well as finding a way to maintain the dense pack afforded by floor stacking of the larger product was solved by a combination of selective rack and three-deep pushback rack.

pushback rack from 3D Storage Systems

Over 9,000 pallet positions of pushback rack from 3D Storage Systems solved the warehousing needs for an aquarium maker.

After completing some AutoCAD drawings based on Central Aquatics input, Paisley developed three separate sections within the 200,000 sq. ft. facility. One large area is devoted to a narrow-aisle reach truck application, and the other two were dedicated to sit-down rider forklifts. “As the project evolved some requirements changed, creating a need for additional storage. We converted the two sit-down rider forklift sections to a narrow aisle reach truck operation utilizing the same space,” Paisley says. The best way to accomplish this was by converting selected aisles to two-deep pushback rack. “From a dealer’s standpoint, Kevin and the people at 3D were extremely cooperative and helpful. They did a real nice job coming up with new bills of material and guiding how we needed to set the beams to make it work. Having standard uprights already in there, the spacing was not normal for the pushback, and Kevin came up with ideas that really worked great.”

The entire project took about three months to develop and complete and encompassed just shy of 9,200 pallet spots, 2,400 of which made up the pushback portion. Of that, 306 pallet spots are six-deep mounted into the recessed truck dock. 1,296 pallet spots are three-deep and 780 are two-deep. 3D Storage and Indoff’s interaction with the customer were critical in allowing this project to progress smoothly.

Nelson Makes It Easy for Hardware Distributor

Summary: Creative use of decking helps wholesale distributor maximize warehouse racks.
Distributor: Nelson Equipment Company Inc.
Manufacturer: AWP Industries

Shreveport, Louisiana-based Hardware Inc., a wholesale distributor of hardware, farm, garden and other supplies, switched to a new warehouse management system. As part of the switch, the system required a more organized configuration of the company’s 250,000 sq. ft. warehouse.

Hardware Inc. needed to add additional picking levels in order to utilize hand picking as well as pallet storage. The challenge lay in the company’s hodgepodge of pallet racks that had been bought from various manufacturers over the course of 20 or 30 years. Enter Nelson Equipment Company (Shreveport, LA) Vice President Kurt Nelson, a longtime Hardware Inc. partner. Nelson turned to one of his suppliers who had experience in providing customers with products for unique applications, American Wire Products and Manager for Material Handling Storage Products Steve Marcozzi.

Wire mesh decking from American Wire Products

Wire mesh decking from American Wire Products allowed a customer to triple its shelving capacity.

By adjusting beam levels on the existing pallet rack, Nelson was able to add an average of two additional picking rows. The beam levels were brought into alignment so that front and back rows were at the same level, allowing wire decking to cover not only the beam levels, but also the flue space between the back-to-back pallet racks, which would prevent product from falling off the back of the rack. A reverse rear waterfall also was added to prevent items from falling.

“American Wire Products grew the decks rather than the racks, establishing a deeper rack footprint, so Hardware Inc. gained storage without having to change rack sizes,” says Nelson. “Because we were dealing with rack from different manufacturers, it wasn’t a cut-and-dried project, and we had to order parts and pieces to fit different racks. But AWP was very flexible and would build to order whatever we needed.”

The $100,000 project took eight months to complete as Hardware Inc. did their own installation after hours. When completed, average storage per location increased from eight SKUs to 24, saving the client from the need to expand its facility and providing a simplified inventory management solution to a complicated storage problem.

Forklift Damage Controlled by Shoppa’s

A company based in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex was having excessive problems with operator abuse to its fleet of more than 20 Toyota forklifts, as well as damage to products and racking systems. Unfortunately, they could not identify who was causing the damage.

Summary: Identification system installed on lift trucks limits operator abuse.
Distributor: Shoppa’s Material Handling
Manufacturer: Shockwatch

This company was an existing customer for Shoppa’s Material Handling (Fort Worth, TX), and when Jeff Carrothers, aftermarket territory manager, stopped by to review their application, he proposed a simple solution: installing the lifts with The Shockwatch ImpactManager RF system with computer reporting capability. “This product solved the issue of identifying operators who are causing abuse to lifts and products from impact with the forklift,” says Shoppa’s Corporate Aftermarket Manager Scott Witt. “Plus, it locks unauthorized drivers off the lifts to help prevent mishaps.”

Carrothers and Witt made a visit to the customer site along with Shockwatch Regional Sales Manager Terry Young to demonstrate the ImpactManager RF system, which detects impacts and records the event details. The data is then transmitted wirelessly or downloaded through a user interface. The device also ensures that only authorized drivers may operate the equipment. “When we showed the customer and described the reporting functions, it showed how they could resolve the issues they were having,” says Witt.

All new forklifts the customer orders now come equipped with the ImpactManager RF software.

Electrics from J.M. Equipment Ease Customer Propane

Summary: Electric forklifts help customer save money and become emissions-compliant.
Distributor: J.M. Equipment Company
Manufacturer: Jungheinrich Lift Truck Corporation

The strict emissions laws passed in California by that state’s Air Resources Board have great impact on distributors and customers throughout the state. J.M. Equipment (Modesto, CA) took advantage of the opportunity to help a customer upgrade its fleet.

Electronic Recyclers of America is based in Fresno, California, and is preparing to expand into other regions of the United States. Since its inception, the company has bought LP-powered forklifts from J.M. Equipment whose owner, Audie Burgan, says, “We’ve been in business for 25 years with the owner’s in-laws, a big fruit and raisin packing family in the area. When he opened his own company, we had an in because the family always got their propane-powered forklifts from us.”

Jungheinrich EFG-430 electric forklift

Jungheinrich's EFG-430 electric forklift helped a customer save $4,000 a month.

The newly passed requirements from the California Air Resources Board (CARB), which require operators of existing forklifts to reduce emissions by retrofit or replacement engines, made the customer look at alternative power sources to make his fleet CARB-compliant. J.M. Equipment Sales Representative Clint Hunter was able to show tremendous savings in future propane costs by switching to a Jungheinrich 80-volt electric forklift. Based on Hunter’s calculations, the customer would save about $450 per month per unit, for a total monthly savings of around $4,000. In addition, part of California’s emission-reduction program states that existing propane users who convert to electrics will receive funds to offset the higher cost of the electric forklift and battery over what the unit cost would be of a replacement LP truck.

That was enough for the customer to order nine EFG-430 trucks for the Fresno operation—a $507,000 order finalized in June 2006.

Printing Company Calls on Storage Equipment

Summary: Manufacturer sends business to local distributor, resulting in sale.
Distributor: Storage Equipment
Manufacturer: Wildeck

Brown Printing is a large multinational printing company located in Waseca, Minnesota, that prints several well-known national magazines. Last October, Brown Printing was in the process of constructing an addition to their facility, and they needed a piece of equipment that would allow them to move materials from a finishing area on the second level down to the main level, where they could be put in the warehouse for shipment.

Wildeck vertical reciprocating lift

A Wildeck vertical reciprocating lift keeps a printing company's operations moving smoothly.

Brown Printing contacted Wildeck’s Lift Product Manager Todd Canham, who in turn contacted the local distributor, Storage Equipment (Minneapolis, MN), and President Mike Dubbs. Dubbs visited the site, surveyed the area and put together a proposal for a Wildeck vertical reciprocating lift. “When a portion of the magazine is completed with printing, it is put on a conveyor and moved into this finishing area,” Dubbs explains. “After all the portions are finished, the workers accumulate them on a pallet. The pallet is taken down this lift, where it is unloaded and then put in the storage rack prior to shipment.”

Based on Dubbs’ recommendation of the VRL, Storage Equipment and Wildeck were awarded the order for a mechanical, unit handling lift. The lift’s platform is 5 ft. x 7 ft., with a 3,000-pound lift capacity. “We worked with Wildeck to get the approval drawings for the lift completed, reviewed by Brown and approved,” Dubbs says. “We also worked with the structural engineer to prepare the documentation we needed in order to apply for a permit to install the lift.” Wildeck built and shipped the lift within five weeks, and Storage Equipment sent its mechanical installer to install the equipment. The installer worked with Brown’s electrical contractor for powering the lifts. “When the project was completed, we arranged for an inspection and certification and then we were able to turn the lift over for Brown’s use,” Dubbs says.

The partnership between Storage Equipment and Wildeck allowed the $35,000 project to be finished ahead of the schedule the customer established when the order was placed. The installation was completed in February 2006.

McCombs-Wall Delivers for Mail Sorting Facility

Irvine, California-based Overnite Express specializes in overnight delivery of mail and packages throughout California and Nevada. The company provides 100 percent guaranteed delivery of all mail the next day, with a drop-off time as late as 9:00 p.m. As the company grew, this became a burden for workers, who were hand-scanning all items. In 2004, Overnite Express called distributor McCombs-Wall (Garden Grove, CA) to build a solution.

Summary: Follow-up service support leads to Phase II of project construction.
Distributor: McCombs-Wall Inc.
Manufacturer: Hytrol Conveyor Company, Quantum Conveyor, AP DataWeigh High Speed Scales

“Hand-scanning the mail took a tremendous amount of time and personnel,” says McCombs-Wall President Peter Lauder. “We designed a system that automatically scans, weighs and sorts all the mail to nearly 125 separate designated locations.” The system developed by Lauder and his team, Vice President Electrical Controls Rick Shepard and Sales Engineer Jeff Livesay, featured 400 feet of Hytrol transportation conveyor and 600 feet of Narrow Belt Sorter from Quantum Conveyor.

“The key for us was demonstrating that our company could not only handle the mechanical aspects of this project, but the electrical and software controls as well,” Lauder says. McCombs-Wall designs and fabricates all aspects of the electrical controls and programming

that are required for systems work. For the Overnite Express system, McCombs-Wall set up a direct link between the conveyor control system and the customer’s home system that constantly communicates back and forth. “We also have a device in there to alert the customer if a package is mis-sorted and a special location for the mis-sorts,” Lauder says. The new system has resulted in 99.99 percent sortation accuracy for the customer.

Once the installation was complete, McCombs-Wall solidified the relationship by supporting the customer during its busiest times—after 11:00 p.m. and throughout the night. The project worked so well that Overnite Express called McCombs-Wall again—this time for phase II of the project, which called for 26 new sort locations. The second phase of the installation resulted in a $750,000 sale that was finished in August 2006.

Storage Solutions Gets in the Flow

Summary: Pallet flow systems helps customer maintain FIFO inventory.
Distributor: Storage Solutions Inc.
Manufacturer: Mallard Manufacturing Corp.

Rod Jack, president/owner of Storage Solutions (Knoxville, TN), knows the value of developing client and manufacturer relationships. Jack has served a maker of power steering pumps in South Carolina for several years and estimates that he has helped install 3,000 to 4,000 pallet positions in prior systems for this customer. When they eyed expanding the facility in 2006, Jack was ready to lend a hand. “We were competitively priced on several previous projects and held our price from a prior project one year before,” Jack says. “The prior success helped us retain the business.”

Talks began a year ago, before the client began construction on the addition. “We budgeted the project about a year in advance,” Jack explains. “As the building got near completion, they ordered the racks to go in right behind the completion of the building.”

three-level Mallard Manufacturing pallet flow system

A three-level Mallard Manufacturing pallet flow system lets the customer store up to 525 pallets.

Inventory is maintained on a FIFO basis, with 45 in. x 48 in. pallets weighing about 2,500 pounds each. Jack relayed the information to Mallard Manufacturing Engineer Scott Garrett, with whom Jack has been collaborating on projects for 15 years. “We give him the variables on pallet size, pallet weight, available space and any other particulars, and he uses that information to lay out the system, engineer the rack and develop the conveyor to handle the product.”

Garrett designed a three-level pallet flow system 25 bays wide. In total, there are 75 lanes of conveyor and 525 pallet positions. The customer places a load on one end and it is conveyed 30 feet to the other end for unloading. “There are several pallets in each lane. The benefit is there’s no way to interrupt the FIFO because you can’t take a pallet out of the middle of the system,” Jack says.

Storage Solutions completed the installation of the $175,000 project at the end of April.

AHS Stares Down Hurricane Wilma

Summary: Distributor meets aggressive schedule despite interruptions from powerful storm.
Distributor: Advanced Handling Systems Inc.
Manufacturer: Mecalux, Hytrol Conveyor Company

When a longtime partner of Advanced Handling Systems (Lakeland, FL) transitioned its operations into a newly purchased facility in south Florida, they contacted AHS Chief Operating Officer JJ Phelan. The customer, a pet supplies retailer with more than 100 store locations, needed to keep its daily operations running while the new 155,000 sq. ft. warehouse was completed.

Mecalux rack and Hytrol conveyor

More than 11,000 pallet positions of Mecalux rack and 9,000 feet of Hytrol conveyor comprise the system for a pet supplies retailer.

Phelan and the team at AHS—Vice President Al Bove, Director of Marketing & New Business Development Leta Cherry, Project Manager Richard Gillespie, Electrical Project Engineer Ed Holzman and Installation Foreman Bill Waikem—utilized a design/build contract to meet the customer’s needs. “The design/build contract is a cost plus profit margin contract,” Phelan explains. “We do RFQs on behalf of the customer, who evaluates them and chooses the vendors with whom they want to do business.” Phelan believes this contract was the key to securing the sale. “It requires that both the buyer and seller work in a true partnership. At AHS, our keystone core value is integrity, and when our partners recognize that we stand behind this belief, it is easy for them to see the benefits of the design/build style of contracting.”

AHS analyzed the customer’s needs and engineered a complex system. All told, it features 1,119 feet of minimum-pressure live roller conveyor, 328 feet of zero-pressure live roller conveyor, 385 feet of live roller conveyor, 240 feet of belt conveyor, 2,200 feet of gravity and conveyor and 4,970 feet of gravity pallet flow lanes from Hytrol Conveyor Company. In addition, AHS installed 22 bays of drive-in rack, 680 bays of selective rack, 13 bays of pushback rack, 13 bays of pallet flow rack, 146 bays of pallet flow and 72 bays of carton flow rack from Mecalux. Two three-level Mecalux pick modules completed the design.

As the project progressed throughout the fall of 2005, Hurricane Wilma intervened. The customer was on a tight timetable already, and the disruptions in transportation, utilities, lodging and permitting caused by the storm slowed progress.

conveyor from Hytrol Conveyor Company

Hurricane Wilma interrupted the installation of conveyor from Hytrol Conveyor Company for a customer in south Florida.

Despite these setbacks, AHS was able to meet the customer’s aggressive schedule. “Consequently, we cemented with this customer a partner-centered relationship based on mutual trust and respect,” Phelan says. The $2 million project was completed in December.

The system maximizes throughput, decreases operational costs and allows for rapid growth. “We maintained a very tight budget without a single change order and met a tight timeline in the face of the hurricane,” Phelan says. “The success of this job was a testament to the dedication and professionalism of the project team.”

JBS Reduces Installation Costs

Summary: New product requires half the time to install, resulting in cost savings for the distributor.
Distributor: JBS Cranes & Accessories
Manufacturer: Universal Electric Corporation

Distributors looking to save money on installation costs can take a cue from John Barney, owner of JBS Cranes & Accessories (McMurray, PA). Barney installed a 12,000-lb. capacity overhead crane in the facility of a light manufacturing company located in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, in the summer of 2006. The dual-hoist, double-girder crane followed a 300-foot runway across the warehouse.

Barney does not perform a lot of installation work, but was contracted to do so in this instance. What he found was a welcome development. “The cost of the conductor bar from Universal Electric Corporation was close to the same price, but the installation was dramatically improved over the traditional insulated runway conductor system that I’ve used in the past.”

Universal Electric Corporation's conductor bar system

Universal Electric Corporation's conductor bar system helped one distributor reduce installation time.

The system supports on a typical overhead track are on 5-foot centers, but this particular system has 10-foot centers and requires half the number of support brackets, which saved Barney about $600. It also reduced the work involved to install it. “Typically, we’re looking at 25 hours to install a conductor system of this length,” Barney says. Installation of the conductor strip itself took three men a combined 45 minutes, and the housing over the strip took the three men about an hour and 45 minutes. Total installation time was thus cut in half. “The reduction in time plus the fewer number of support brackets resulted in tremendous savings. That really made the difference,” Barney says.

He also praised Universal for another feature of its conductor bar system. “It was conducive for use with variable frequency drives, which is not typical. A lot of conductor systems require adjustments in the way they operate. This system supports variable frequency drives without changes.

McNichols Conveys Solution To Customer

Summary: Turnkey conveyor system handles 1,200 vehicle sets per day.
Distributor: McNichols Conveyor Company
Manufacturer: Roach Conveyors

When Cadence Innovation LLC was contracted to produce inner door panels, center console assemblies and instrument panels for Jeep’s Grand Cherokee and Commander vehicles, they knew they had a tough project ahead of them. Faced with tight lead times, a large number of different parts and carrier racks, project manager Larry Vogt needed a turnkey solution that would be up to the task of handling 1,200 vehicle sets per day.

Vogt called McNichols Conveyor Company (Southfield, MI), a seasoned Roach Conveyor distributor, asking for a “little” help. Bob Iwrey, president of McNichols Conveyor, found that “little” was relative and that a creative solution would be necessary.

A diverse mix of Roach Conveyors

A diverse mix of Roach Conveyors product solved the need for an automotive supplier.

With minimal floor space, and the need to sequence racks for “build order,” McNichols Conveyor came up with a diverse mix of Roach Conveyors equipment—including chain-driven live roller conveyors, custom chain drag conveyors, turntables with chain-driven live roller tops, chain transfers and gravity rollers—and tied them together with a PLC-managed control system to meet the exacting requirements of the customer.

McNichols Conveyor designed, specified and installed the turnkey system. Iwrey worked in concert with the Roach Conveyors project engineer, sales manager and production manager throughout the process. “We were able to understand the project and nail down the design pretty well,” Iwrey says. “Roach just took the basic concept and turned it into hardware specifications. They really helped with some of the complicated aspects, like turntables.”

The end result was an automated conveyor system that has performed with 100 percent reliability, allowing Cadence to meet the tight deadlines set forth by their automotive customer. “We firmly believe the client-distributor-manufacturer relationship that has been formed among Cadence Innovation, McNichols Conveyor Company and Roach Conveyor will allow all parties continued growth in the challenging automotive supply sector,” Iwrey says.

Applied Handling Takes a Curtain Call

A prototyping company for the automobile industry based in Elk Grove, Illinois, moved to a new facility in Canton, Michigan, and needed to find a distributor in the area who could meet their very unusual requirements.

Summary: Custom-made curtains protect prototypes in relocated customer facility.
Distributor: Applied Handling
Manufacturer: Goff’s Enterprises

The new facility was designed with three bays, each capable of holding two cars. The customer does work for every major automaker, so they needed to be able to hide the prototypes from the different manufacturers. Being new to the area, the customer began calling material handling companies around the region. “No one else they called had any idea how to give them what they wanted,” says Joe Daiek, service sales representative at Applied Handling (Dearborn, MI). “In fact, they themselves weren’t exactly sure what they wanted. It’s a unique application.”

Daiek visited the job site. Each bay is 30 feet by 25 feet, with 30-foot ceilings. The solution Daiek came up with was custom-made Industrial Curtain Walls from Goff’s Enterprises. “Once we showed we could provide a solution, the customer signed off on it,” Daiek says. “We couldn’t install it for a couple of months because we had to work closely with Goff’s Enterprises to get the right mix of material.” The curtains surround three bays, requiring a total of 110 feet to totally encircle each bay. “Plus we had to overlap the curtains so they would close properly. It’s more like 130 feet of curtain for each one of these bays. I was pretty impressed with what Goff’s gave me.”

Read More Online Want to learn more about specific sales techniques? MHEDA Members share their thoughts in these articles:
Custom Projects by Louis Coleman
Selling Service by Kevin Powell
Selling Casters by Brian Hakeem
Selling Fork Positioners by Rick Whiting
Are You A Good Student? by Steve Marcozzi

The custom-made curtains are similar to body-shop curtains, with a few modifications. “The customer wanted enough light to come through the tops of the curtains so that people could see what they were doing,” Daiek explains. “Goff’s sewed two feet of clear material on top of the 10 feet of red fabric.”

These 12-foot curtains were then suspended 18 feet down from the ceiling. However, each bay also houses vacuums and lifts, and the piping for it along the ceiling was problematic. “I wasn’t sure how to attach the threaded rods from the ceiling without getting caught in the duct work,” Daiek says. “So we had to set up Unistrut metal framing around the ducts. Our subcontractor had guys trying to fit their hands through small openings to put this stuff up into the rafters, which took a while.” The framing for the track took two weeks to install.

Finally, the curtains needed to be secured to the floor. “We put a bunch of wing-ties in the floor to overlap the curtains. Once they’re closed, you can’t see under or over them, and you can’t open them without ripping the whole thing apart,” Daiek says. “It was a challenge because most companies don’t make something that you can secure to the floor.”

All in all, it added up to a sale of $35,000, completed in summer of 2006.

Material Handling Equipment Distributors Association

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *