Distributors and suppliers collaborate to exceed expectations
By Steve Guglielmo
MHEDA members are notorious for the level of knowledge, insight and professionalism they bring to a customer. When MHEDA members collaborate, as they did for these Sales Success Stories, they are sure to find solutions to customers’ challenges and exceed their expectations. These stories illustrate the importance of the distributor/manufacturer relationship and how much can be achieved when both sides work together, combining their strengths to go above and beyond. Sales success comes in many forms, and this year, MHEDA members ran the gamut. Here are tales of innovation and collaboration that address complex problems.
The Lilly Company Gets Hot Off The Presses
STL Distribution is one of the largest non-profit religious book distribution companies in the world. To keep up with increasing demand for books printed at its Elizabethton, TN based facility, STL brought in a new printing press capable of printing a full size Bible in less than 45 minutes. With the new press, however, came tremendous heat emissions – up to 110,000 BTUs – which was a waste of energy and increased STL’s plant cooling costs. At the same time, the company was also planning to add more equipment to increase its publication capacity to 650,000 books per year. To do so required first figuring out how to safely isolate the printing press from the rest of the warehouse. STL’s President Glenn Bailey began to solicit solutions from material handling companies on how best to deal with the heat.
Johnny Blanton, major accounts manager with The Lilly Company (Memphis, TN), had previously done business with STL and happened to be visiting with them when Bailey presented him with the new problem. Blanton surveyed the area and suggested an InsulWall system from Randall Manufacturing as a solution. The insulated curtain wall system would allow STL to isolate the printing press heat from the rest of the 190,000 sq. ft. facility. Blanton contacted his factory representative, Todd Jessup, regional accounts manager with Randall, to come and take measurements before presenting a proposal to STL.
STL weighed The Lilly Company’s solution against several other proposals, ultimately deciding to go with the InsulWall. “Having worked with us before, STL knew that we would follow through,” says Blanton. “I personally assured them that I would be there every day during the installation process and make sure that any issue would be resolved immediately.”
It wasn’t long before an issue did crop up. Just before the installation started, STL called Blanton to let him know they had decided to expand the installation area by 40 feet and add an additional assembly line. Thanks to the support of Randall Manufacturing and the entire Lilly Company team of President Joe Clark III, Vice President Wade Clark, COO Eric Wisher, and Sales Manager Wally Painter, Blanton was able to follow through on his promise, working with STL during every step of the installation. The two-point enclosure used existing walls in a corner and spanned 80 ft. by 56 ft. The InsulWall solution allows STL to keep the pressroom at a constant 75 degrees. In the summer, STL plans to install an air conditioner in the room to keep the temperature consistent.
Even with the order change, it only took three weeks to complete the manufacture, delivery and installation of the system, with little to no interruption to STL’s business during installation. Since its completion in October 2010, the solution has been a major success. As STL continues to grow and expand, the InsulWall solution allows flexibility for the company to reconfigure its workspace that a traditional rigid wall would not allow. The InsulWall solution served the dual purpose of isolating the heat generated by the press, and also being flexible enough to move if the need arises. For The Lilly Company, what started as a routine visit to a customer ended in a major opportunity. As with most examples of excellent customer service, this story has a happy ending.
DISTRIBUTOR: The Lilly Company
SUPPLIER: Randall Manufacturing
Long Term Partnership Yields Success for Badger
Every year, Badger ToyotaLift’s customers circle November and December on their calendars. This is when Badger ToyotaLift (New Berlin, WI) partners with Camoplast Solideal for its annual year end tire sale, an event that has taken place every year since 1989. For two months, beginning on November 1 and ending December 31, Badger ToyotaLift sells discounted cushion and solid pneumatic Solideal tires to new and existing customers in Southern Wisconsin.
Starting in late October, Badger ToyotaLift begins to heavily advertise the sale. The distributor sends out thousands of emails to customers and prospects, mails out flyers, promotes the sale on its website and attaches promotional material to all outgoing parts shipments and invoices. Solideal aids in the promotion by distributing flyers and spiffing promotional products for Badger salespeople and customers. “Solideal provides special jackets and hats to promote the sale,” says Pat Stemper, general manager at Badger. “Those products aren’t available any other time, and they are very popular with our salespeople and customers.”
Badger Parts Manager John Nierode works with Mike Ross, national sales representative at Camoplast Solideal, to coordinate the purchase and dis count structure of the tires. To pre pare for the sale, Badger stocks up on the industrial tires by the container load. Working with Ross allows the distributor to pass on a 20 percent discount to the end user.
Sales representatives from Badger are accompanied by Solideal Regional Sales Representative Mark Nier when calling on customers. “Mark is able to provide technical support and expertise to customers,” says Nierode. “He and our operations manager, Mike Olson, are always available to go on joint sales calls with our sales reps.” Olson also coordinates the tire press schedule for new customers during the sale.
Every year the sale becomes more well-known and successful. In 2010, Badger ToyotaLift converted 10 new customers through the promotion. The annual sale accounted for 25 percent of the company’s total tire sales in 2010. “Every year we are able to get new customers from this sale,” says Stemper. “These customers get used to the Solideal line and are pleased with the performance of the tires. New customers turn into repeat customers after using Solideal.” As a matter of fact, Badger ToyotaLift guarantees its customers’ satisfaction by offering to buy the tires back at their original purchase price if customers aren’t completely satisfied. Stemper says, “The sales process is much easier with strong, long lasting relationships.”
DISTRIBUTOR: Badger ToyotaLift
SUPPLIER: Camoplast Solideal
Drumming Up Consistent Business
For years, Bode Equipment Company (Londonderry, NH) has been working with a medical customer that specializes in kidney dialysis. The customer has treatment facilities across the country and depends on Bode to provide them with drum handling equipment to transport drums of medical waste.
For more than seven years, the customer has been using a two-wheel standup drum handler. Every year, the customer would renew its orders for the two-wheel truck. However, two years ago, the company approached Bode Office Supervisor Meredith Fowler about a potential change. They were looking for a truck that pro vided a little more stability. Fowler suggested that the company look at Morse Manufacturing’s Model 160 Multi Purpose 4-Wheel Drum Truck that is made in the USA.
The 4-wheel truck provided many advantages over the company’s current trucks. It is ergonomically designed and allows the four wheels to support the drum’s weight completely, without the need to support or balance the drum.
The customer was able to try out the trucks in several of their facilities and was so impressed that it decided to switch its entire fleet of drum trucks to the Morse Model 160.
What was less straightforward was the customer’s time frame. “This customer has locations all over the country,” Fowler says. “They order materials from us to ship to those locations on a specific schedule. I work with Mores Sales Manager Phil Mulpagano and his team to ensure that the products get to the right place at the right time.”
Often, the customer needs these trucks with a very quick turnaround. To expedite the process, Bode works with the customer to drop ship the product directly to the customer, usually within a day or two of receiving the order.
“Morse has been a great partner for us,” Fowler says. “We haven’t had any issues with them at all. Little hic cups that sometimes arise when dates change or the customer needs a quick turnaround don’t happen with them. They get the product out quickly and it arrives on time with no freight dam age, even though they’re shipping to a different address every time.”
To date, the customer has ordered close to 100 trucks, with plans to deliver more trucks every month.
DISTRIBUTOR: Bode Equipment Company
SUPPLIER: Morse Manufacturing
Not A Basket Case
A large tier one automotive sup plier in Maiden, North Carolina, was having issues with its wire mesh baskets. It was storing steel forgings for automobile drive trains and a standard GM5131 basket was simply too large. Specifically, the baskets were too tall, which led to the company’s supplier overfilling the basket with forgings and putting more weight in them than the customer’s equipment could handle.
Stumped, the customer called its material handling distributor, Wes Co Enterprises (Granite Falls, NC), to determine a solution. Wes Co Owner Jamie Hagerty went to the facility and pitched a solution. The customer would need a custom wire basket that could support up to 2,000 pounds without being overfilled. Hagerty immediately suggested a Nashville Wire Products solution to the customer.
“Nashville Wire is the only wire basket I would put in my portfolio, from a confidence standpoint,” Hagerty says. “They’re so easy to work with and the product is the best quality I have ever seen from a safety standpoint.”
Safety was a major selling point on this project. The customer was considering two different types of storage solutions. Haggerty pointed out that Nashville Wire baskets have a drop gate with a helix, whereas the competitor’s used pins on the gate.
“They were curious about what would happen if the basket crumpled under the weight,” Hagerty says. “I explained that the helix would pre vent the gate from falling off. The pins could snap and the gate could fall off, which could damage the load. The helix would prevent that from happening.”
Hagerty called Twaka Tyus, estimation engineer at Nashville Wire Products, to explain the situation. “Twaka was like Superman through out this process,” Hagerty says. “He quoted the custom size that we came up with and drew up the engineered drawings for it. He even had the engineering department build a prototype that the customer could sample prior to purchase.”
This ended up being prescient, as the customer realized that he had miscalculated a portion of the manufacturing process and therefore the prototype baskets would be too tall. For some, this could have been a major hurdle, but Hagerty simply called Twaka and informed him of the need for a slightly shorter basket.
“He turned the prototype around within a week,” Hagerty says. “It was unbelievable.”
After seeing the prototype and learning about the ROI that the Nashville Wire solution offered, the customer was blown away by the custom solution and put in an order for more than $100,000 of custom wire containers. The containers measured 48 in. x 40 in. x 18 in. “As a distributor, it’s my job to find suppliers that I can work with and get a quick response from,” Hagerty says. “Getting something turned around this quickly is unheard of. Nashville Wire has been an indispensible partner to us.”
DISTRIBUTOR: Wes Co Enterprises
SUPPLIER: Nashville Wire Products
AK Designs a Great Customer Experience
St. Cloud, Minn.-based Coborn’s is a very successful grocery retailer in the midwest, with 41locations in Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin and North & South Dakota. As such, the company constantly opens new stores and remodels existing locations. To do so requires ample racking to store goods throughout the store. Coborn’s relies on fast, timely service and a partner that they can trust to get the job done right. That is why they depend on Jerry Fredrickson and the team at AK Material Handling Systems (Maple Grove, MN).
When Coborn’s opens a new facility or remodels an existing one, Fredrickson, a system design specialist, goes to the location to measure clearances on bar joists, verify room dimensions and confirm how the company wants the room laid out for storage. He then works with the store management team from Coborn’s and engineering from SpaceRak to provide CAD drawings for gondola racking in the retail area and pallet racking storage in the back rooms. AK Material Handling even palletizes each room separately to save Coborn’s time and money. “When the product gets delivered, they can bring it right to the correct room and it’s all set up so that Coborn’s doesn’t have to separate it themselves saving them valuable time.”
We have been doing business with Coborn’s since 1989. In July 2011, Coborn’s did a partial remodel of its Willmar, MN, store. The grocer needed 68 ft. of additional gondola racking to have overhead storage for their dry good products. .
After examining the space, Fredrickson contacted SpaceRak to help with the design. “Coborn’s is very particular about the way their stores look and how to add additional pallet storage locations,” says Fredrickson. “SpaceRak is one of the only manufacturers that provides custom colors for racking products. They are also great about helping with the engineered drawings and verifying that the spacing and clearances are correct.” Safety is always a number one concern with Coborn’s and Fredrickson collaborated with Jim Kafka, inside salesperson at Capital Safety to offer a safety netting solution for the Gondola racking.
As Coborn’s continues to expand, they know that they can count on AK Material Handling to get the job done in a timely manner. Fredrickson says, “Because of our CAD services, large stocking inventory and great customer service, Coborn’s knows that we will always deliver.”
About Coborn’s: St. Cloud, Minn.-based Coborn’s Inc. operates 41 Coborn’s and Cash Wise Foods grocery stores, and three Save-A-Lot franchise stores in the upper Midwest, along with convenience, liquor and video stores, and pharmacies. Coborn’s also operates a central bakery, central dry cleaning facility, its own grocery distribution center, and CobornsDelivers online grocery ordering and home delivery service. To learn more about Coborn’s Inc., visit www.coborns.com.
DISTRIBUTOR: AK Material Handling Systems
Wisconsin Lift Truck Helps Modernize Mining Company
The South Milwaukee, WI, branch of Caterpillar Global Mining was being hamstrung by antiquated equipment and poor layout. The manufacturer, which builds products for coal mining, had its parts scattered across multiple buildings. The parts were being stored in small bins and hand made wooden drawers and shelves that dated back to the 1950s and ‘60s.
It could take days to find a specific part and subsequently the company could only build 12 to 15 machines per year. The company was desperate to upgrade its storage system and consolidate all of its parts together into a 75,000 sq. ft. warehouse.
Enter Tom Stephens, fleet service manager for Wisconsin Lift Truck Corp. (Brookfield, WI). Tom is a 34-year veteran of the industry and has a very long-standing relationship with Cat Global Mining. Tom proposed building a state of the art automated storage and retrieval system from Hanel Storage Systems.
“Not only would the Hanel parts retrieval system make finding inventory more efficient, it also provided a much more secure system,” says Stephens.
Tom contacted Bob Brooks at Hanel and the two discussed how many retrieval systems Cat would need. Then, Tom and Bob took representatives of Cat to several locations that employed Hanel retrieval systems.
“The customer was blown away by the durability, speed and reliability of the systems,” Stephens says. “After seeing the Hanel’s in action, they were sold.”
The project began in 2007, with the installation of three model 2460 systems with 80 pans. Each system is 36 ft. tall and is governed by a security system. That system automatically tells the customer what to reorder and has an automated inventory system. Each shelf had a capacity of 800 1,100 pounds, ideal for the small assembly parts that the mining company was storing.
“Before, it could have taken days or weeks to find a part,” Stephens says. “With the new system, it’s minutes. All of the information is right at the operator’s fingertips and the part doesn’t have to move more than 300 ft. The Milwaukee branch is now building 24 machines per year, up from 12 before we installed the Hanel solution.”
The customer was so impressed that they ordered two more in 2009 and another two in 2010. All told, there are 3,000 active bin locations with 95 percent of pans fully utilized, 5,370 SKUs with a total quantity of 87,000 stored parts and 175 multi line order picks per day. The company even purchased two Hanel units for their Denison, Texas, location and is looking to add more retrieval systems as they continue to expand.
“It brought a company out of the ‘50s and ‘60s and into the present. The solution helped them step into a global environment and brought them a level of security,” Stephens says. “And Hanel was indispensible throughout the entire process. Bob Brooks helped present the solution and also assured the customer that they would be there to support the product after it was installed. Everything they said they would do, they did. They are a first class organization with top of the line products.”
DISTRIBUTOR: Wisconsin Lift Truck Corp.
SUPPLIER: Hanel Storage Systems
ACT Helps Industries of the Blind Find a Solution
Industries of the Blind (Greensboro, NC) was having storage issues. The company, which provides aid for blind people, had a lot of product to store and not a lot of space in which to store it. Rather than move to a new warehouse, IOB wanted to use the space in their existing warehouse more efficiently. That is why they called Atlantic Coast Toyotalift (Winston Salem, NC) to help devise a storage plan.
Greg Creed, ACT vice president of sales, and Steve Dunlap, ACT territory manager, met with IOB President David LoPresti and Richard Oliver, director of sales, marketing and business development for IOB, in March 2011 to deter mine the best course of action. They came up with a three-pronged approach. Phase one would include pallet rack to store tarps that IOB was storing. However, Mother Nature had other ideas. That summer, there was a stretch of severe weather and IOB was forced to move all of its tarps. “Phase one changed completely,” Dunlap says. “It was completely predicated on the storage of the tarps. Without the tarps, the warehouse really opened up. We had to go back to the drawing board, but we were able to open up the room to a different style and type of shelving that ultimately better suited their needs. Rather than just moving tarps off the floor, we could add shelving for the smaller parts and boxes that they stored. It didn’t have to be all pallet storage.”
Dunlap called Todd McGee, sales manager for Stein Service & Supply (Charlotte, NC), for assistance with the new phase one. Together, Todd and Steve met with IOB and proposed a revised plan that included a combination of pallet rack, steel shelving, gravity flow conveyor and workstations.
“We were also able to incorporate some of their existing rack and shelving into our solution, which saved them a lot of money,” Dunlap says. “Todd put together the drawings and layout, which were tricky, due to the fact that the end product being stored was unknown. They had pallets of all different sizes. Todd did an excellent job of working around that unknown and providing a great set up and plan.”
Phase one, which was installed in March 2012, included 10,968 pick locations. Phase two was strictly pal let rack storage. ACT and Stein added 1,536 pallet storage locations, which dramatically increased IOB’s storage capacity. Here again, the configuration changed over time, due to the size of the pallets, but did not impact the number of pallet positions.
Through two phases, the $210,000 project has been a massive success. The third phase is scheduled for installation later this year.
“IOB was a great group to work with,” Dunlap says. “They made you want to help them. We used our experience and Stein’s experience to provide a great solution to the customer. Stein was a tremendous help.”
DISTRIBUTOR: Atlantic Coast Toyotalift
SUPPLIER: Stein Service & Supply
Hy-Tek Builds Up
Hy-Tek Material Handling (Cleveland, OH) was confronted with a very complex space crunch. Their customer, a large automotive after market parts distributor in Armonk, NY, had clearly outgrown its storage facility.
“The customer’s inventory had badly outgrown the space that they had to store it,” says Scott Hennie, vice president and general manager of Hy-Tek. “As a result, they had 18 tractor trailers of inventory parked in their parking lot and along the road going into their facility. Anytime they needed the inventory, they had to go out and find it in a trailer to bring it in. There were storage issues, labor efficiency issues and safety issues.”
In 2007, the customer had approached Hy-Tek about potentially expanding their building. However, they soon scrapped that idea. While they couldn’t expand outward, they still had to figure out a way to get that inventory inside and increase efficiencies. In early 2011, the company approached Hennie again to figure out a way to expand storage without expanding the building.
“We worked with them to determine what their inventory was and how we could accommodate it,” Hennie says. “The bulk of what they had stored in the trailers was palletized inventory. Historically, they didn’t have pure pallets of inventory. They typically had small parts on shelving. Their current set up was to handle small hand stacked inventory.”
Because building out wasn’t an option, Hennie proposed that they build up, instead. “The facility had an existing mezzanine already, but it didn’t span the entire warehouse,” Hennie says. “If we expanded the mezzanine, we could get all of the small inventory that was on the floor on top of the mezzanine, clearing space for the new storage equipment to handle the pallet sized inventory.”
Expanding an existing mezzanine is no easy task, however. First, the expanded mezzanine would depend on existing shelving on the floor to support the structure while still meeting local building codes and permitting requirements. It also had to be designed in such a way that it wouldn’t damage the structural integrity of the existing mezzanine. Planning was extremely important as well, as it had to be laid out without interfering with the additional equipment that was being installed on the ground floor.
“We worked with Steele Solutions on this mezzanine project because we knew that they would be able to get this done in a way that fit all of these criteria,” Hennie says. “The people at Steele Solutions don’t just look at their piece of the puzzle. They look at how that piece fits into the whole system. They want to make sure the structures they build don’t interfere with other elements of the distribution center.”
Hennie worked with Kevin O’Neill and a team of project engineers and managers on the design and layout of the mezzanine. “There are different types of construction when building a mezzanine,” Hennie says.
“There are free-standing-structures, rack-supported structures and structural-steel-supported structures. Steele Solutions really took three different mezzanine construction types and built one mezzanine out of them. We developed the conceptual design and Steele Solutions did the engineering and calculations to make sure they could use the shelving, rack and their own structural steel to support this.”
The new mezzanine spanned 16,600 sq. ft. and also added 9,000 sq. ft. of floor space underneath. The customer was able to store the smaller, lighter inventory on the second level, while storing the heavy, palletized inventory on the floor. As an added bonus, installation of the $1 million project was completed without the customer having to shut down. They were able to continue to ship orders even while construction was taking place.
“The customer had a very specific problem and their initial solution just wasn’t going to happen,” Hennie says. “Working with us and Steele Solutions, we were able to come up with a solution that didn’t involve expanding the building and kept them in business.”
DISTRIBUTOR: Hy-Tek Material Handling
SUPPLIER: Steele Solutions
Andrews & Hamilton Adds Value
A Durham, NC based manufacturer and distributor of Coconut Husk Flower pots needed more space to store its inventory. The company had an old tobacco warehouse with 15-foot ceilings and tightly offset columns that made storage and aisle spacing a challenge. It had been storing all of its shipments on the floor, which made for an unorganized mess.
The company attempted to plan a storage layout and solution on its own, but lacked the technical knowledge to do so. They needed a professional. So they called Andrews & Hamilton (Durham, NC) to address the issue.
“The customer contacted me out of the blue,” says Kaila Slattery, outside sales representative for Andrews & Hamilton. “They knew they had a problem, but they didn’t know how to fix it.”
Slatttery looked at the warehouse and knew that they needed pallet rack to allow for a second level of storage. She laid out the warehouse using AutoCAD and put together a proposal using Wireway/Husky IU18 racking with 1 5/8 inch depth that can support up to 16,000 pounds and a standard 8 foot beam with a 4 inch base that was ideal for the 4 foot boxes of biodegradable pots the company was storing.
However, the customer was trying to save as much money as possible and initially was looking only at the bottom line dollar amount. Andrews & Hamilton was in competition with a company from China that was much cheaper.
It was up to Kaila to convince the company that there is much more to consider than the bottom line when making such a large investment. “I told them that if any problems arose during or after the installation, we are five minutes away and could be on site to fix it the same day,” Slattery says. “We not only lay out the facility, but we’re in constant contact with the manufacturer, which is also a U.S. company, and we will install the product. We guarantee that the material will arrive, undamaged, in 4 6 weeks. If purchased from China, it could take months on a freighter and what would happen if the material is incorrect or damaged?”
Slattery also worked with Brad Bolick from Wireway/Husky to come down as far as possible on price. “He was fantastic,” she says. “Not only did he make the price competitive, but he always gets me the information and the quote quickly. He’s always right on the ball.”
In the end, there were too many advantages to ignore, and the customer decided to go with Andrews & Hamilton.
Installation of the $72,000 job had to be planned to a T, as it was set to take place during the company’s busy season. Andrews & Hamilton had to install the storage in a timely manner without disrupting productivity. Slattery was on hand throughout, and the team was able to complete installation ahead of schedule with out any problems.
“The Chinese company was competing solely on price,” Slattery says. “In the end, we were able to demonstrate that the value we provide and our proximity to their warehouse more than made up for the difference in price. They have been very satisfied with our solution.”
DISTRIBUTOR: Andrews & Hamilton
Can’t Beat the Fleet
Lincoln Industries (Lincoln, NE) is a metal finishing and custom-plating manufacturer. The company relies on its fleet of forklifts to move product for plating back and forth between storage, the shop floor and shipping. Unfortunately, Lincoln’s forklift fleet was a mess. There was so much down time on the trucks that Lincoln was forced to keep a dedicated forklift technician – working 40 50 hours per week – on staff just to keep them running.
What’s worse is that the trucks were also a lawsuit waiting to hap pen. “Operators had to get on and off the trucks 10 20 times per shift for 45 seconds each time just to adjust the forks in and out to accommodate different size packages,” says Chris Fasbender, fleet operations man ager for Riekes Equipment Company (Omaha, NE). “One operator had three incidents of injury in the last year alone from moving forks. We had to fix that.”
Riekes caught wind of the fact that Lincoln was on the lookout for a new forklift fleet and put together a team to go in and make a proposal. “They opened it up to everybody,” says Paul Gredys, fleet manager for Riekes. “We had to go in and get interviewed.”
After the interview process, Riekes went in with a six-person survey team to determine what could be improved. The team was comprised of Bill Barrett, Jake Cooper, Jim Crawford, Chris Fasbender, Paul Gredys and Kevin Heise – all experts in mobile material handling products, warehouse solutions, operational cost reductions and metrics. Together, they found multiple areas that could not only improve efficiency, but also decrease the chance of injury.
“When you get six sets of eyes on a project, everybody sees things differently,” says Fasbender. “You have a better chance of finding something that may have been missed along the line.”
The team strived to save Lincoln 15 percent of its fleet budget through operational improvements. It proposed a 30-truck fleet of Yale forklifts. “Their current fleet had three different fork lifts. All of their sit down counter balanced trucks had a high chassis,” says Fasbender. “It took three steps to get into and out of the truck. We proposed a low sitting chassis, one step in, with a zero turn radius.”
Gredys adds, “There were ergonomic differences between the high and low chassis. There had been accidents and problems with the high chassis trucks, so their safety director was very keen to address the ergonomics.”
The team also proposed using opportunity charge trucks with fork positioners to reduce the time that operators spend outside of their trucks. Now, instead of having to spend 45 seconds every time they have to reposition their forks, opera tors are only out of their trucks to charge their batteries.
All of this sounds great in theory, but Riekes wanted to present concrete data to Lincoln to secure the order. “We use a tool that quantifies ROI,” says Gredys. “We recommended side shifting fork positioners and measured time savings by labor rates. Using all of their metrics, we determined that over the term of the lease, Lincoln would save more than $500,000 in operating cost savings.”
Lincoln was stunned and decided to award Riekes the project, worth more than $1.5 million. All told, Lincoln got a mix of sit down and stand up counter balance trucks with a variety of models, including: NR, ESC, ERPVF, EW, MRW and DP50. Riekes also added lasers to all trucks that had a lifting carriage and a VMS system.
“We didn’t want to be a consultant,” says Fasbender. “We wanted to be a partner. We made sure that our customer was aware of the potential production and safety pitfalls of their current operation. We earned their trust and we were careful to not violate that trust. Lincoln depended on us to make the best recommendations for their business.”
Combined with Yale, Riekes was able to satisfy the customer and even fulfill an accelerated delivery schedule of nine weeks instead of 16. As Fasbender says, “It was a real joint effort between Riekes and Yale.”
DISTRIBUTOR: Riekes Equipment Company
SUPPLIER: Yale Materials Handling Corporation
E-Distribution Rises Up
QuikTrip Corporation owns and operates more than 600 convenience stores in 11 states. The company was opening up a new distribution center in Dallas, TX, that would supply all of QuikTrip’s stores throughout the Dallas Metroplex. It began working with a consultant to find a location to build or locate an existing building to remodel.
E-Distribution (Wylie, TX) had pro vided a grocery company in Salt Lake City, UT, with a brand new AS/RS sys tem that dramatically improved that company’s storage and picking efficiency. The consultant had previous experience with E Distribution and recommended QuikTrip meet with them as a vendor candidate for their new project.
“The project that we installed in Salt Lake City was a replenishment AS/RS,” says E-Distribution President Brad Emerson. “They had a 24 month ROI and were right on target to hit that date. QuikTrip’s concept was to utilize the AS/RS as replenishment for their pick modules similar in potential labor savings, but also different in the type of order selection than the Salt Lake City project.”
QuikTrip had four distribution centers around the country, and it was laid out with high-rise pick modules with multi level selection to conveyors. QuikTrip decided on an existing building in Midlothian, Texas, that had the added benefit of an approximate 80 ft. clear height. The added clear height gave clear advantage for the utilization of the overhead storage space with an AS/RS unit load storage system and integrated picking levels into the height of the storage structure. “Instead of building a 40 ft. tall mezzanine, we looked at having an AS/RS feed the pick modules instead of having lift trucks feeding the modules,” Emerson says. “This would eliminate a lot of labor.”
E-Distribution completed the base engineering for the storage system, and called Elite Storage Solution to strategize with Gary Zimmer, director of manufacturing and Randy Mosher, engineering manager. The outcome of the collaboration was a way to QC the manufacturing at the plant and eliminate as many issues as possible before they reached the field.
“An AS/RS with four-deep pushback had never been done before,” Emerson says. “But with a 70 ft. tall system, the four deep would provide so many more reserve pallets that wouldn’t require labor to continually restock.”
The system utilized two pallet-handling cranes to feed the high rise racking system and adjacent multi level pick modules. The picking uses conveyors to transport full cases and broken cases in totes to the dock area. The racking system is a heavy duty structural channel system supporting reserve pallets and pick module deck levels, and the racks were designed to accommodate carton flow, pallet flow and pushback lanes.
Because of the immense height of the system, the AS/RS had to be built with two frames. Over 14 weeks, the installation team used a crane to stack the levels, building the base on the floor and then stacking them. The smaller rack was built right in place.
“The jigging was right on and the product was within tolerance,” Emerson says. “Elite’s manufacturing scheduler Jim Catoe and E-Distribution’s project team had weekly coordination meetings to go over scheduling and shipping needs with E Distribution’s site team and installation crew in order to meet the schedule needs of the storage and coordinate with the conveyor progress. E-Distribution coordinated between Elite, Kuecker Logistics Group, the conveyor integrator on the project, and the installation group to meet QuikTrip’s project schedules.
The system exceeded QuikTrip’s expectations and also made history.
SUPPLIERS: Elite Storage Solutions, Kuecker Logistics Group
W&H Sorts Out A Problem
A large custom print shop needed a way to convey its items in a more organized fashion. The printer, whose products run the gamut from business cards to billboards and everything in between, was using a single line conveyor to move bins of products to the end of a line where they were diverted to eight binning stations with three full time employees, each who had to manually pick and sort the products before placing them on a single outfeed conveyor to go to the ship ping department. This was especially problematic, as many orders came to the binning stations for consolidation. The company also gets many single item orders. Combined, this became overwhelming. The printer knew it needed to do something about it. The customer began soliciting bids from respected systems integrators in the material handling industry. One of those integrators was W&H Systems (Carlstadt, NJ).
“We were challenged to come up with a solution to descramble, singulate, accumulate and merge very small and very large variations of product sizes and package types,” says Bill O’Boyle, sales representative for W&H. “This would allow shipping to handle them in an efficient and ergonomic fashion.”
O’Boyle determined that the single item orders were one of the biggest inefficiencies in the sorting, as the sorters were forced to essentially stop sorting and just move the item from one conveyor to another. The customer was looking for a “direct link” that would allow those single items to bypass the manual sortation and be conveyed directly to the shipping department.
“We figured out a way to isolate the single item orders and have them go right to the shipping area,” O’Boyle says. “To do so, we took one spur off of the sorter and interrupted the control system that was in place. All single orders were then diverted to spur 8. We combined that spur’s destination with the output conveyor from the binning area downstream so that it would go directly to shipping.”
By taking the single item orders out of the binning areas, the end user was able to eliminate four full time employees per shift and 12 full time employees in a three-shift workday.
O’Boyle contacted Stephen Moseley, warehouse & distribution industry team leader for Intralox, about how to descramble and singulate the jumbled mess from binning and then combine it with the output from the new single item order line in an ordered and efficient fashion.
“We had done some merging and sorting with Intralox equipment before and we challenged Steve to help us come up with an arrangement of equipment that could help us achieve the specific rates that the customer was looking for,” says O’Boyle.
Together, the two determined that an Intralox Activated Roller Belt (ARB) Singulator and an ARB Merge could do what the customer was asking for. Intralox’s patented Activated Roller Belt equipment brings the benefits of modular plastic belting to conveyance applications, including sorting, merging and singulating. ARB technology enables package handling flexibility, a smaller footprint, simplified controls and reduced maintenance.
“The Intralox conveyor brought order to the mess that the customer had been dealing with before,” says O’Boyle. “It presented the product in an organized way to the shipping facility.”
“This was their dream,” O’Boyle adds. “We just found the components and put them together in a workman like way. It took a lot of good dialogue between Steve’s engineering team and our team to make this all work. It didn’t just come out of the box working perfectly; there was a lot of integration necessary to make this run smoothly.”
Not only did the customer love that the solution could solve the problem, but W&H was also the most inexpensive project that was proposed.
W&H was able to engineer the sys tem while Intralox engineered the equipment components to fit. It was smooth sailing and everybody won.
DISTRIBUTOR: W&H Systems
Andrews & Hamilton Provides Aid
The University of North Carolina Medical Distribution Center was moving to a new 107, 000 sq. ft. building. The medical center was consolidating three different warehouse locations into one central building. In addition to the storage portion of the warehouse, UNC was also putting a pharmacy into the new facility.
The University was working with a consultant on the project but needed outside expertise to deal with the storage aspect of the project. Andrews & Hamilton had worked with the University for more than 10 years and the medical center was confident that they had the necessary knowledge and experience to get the job done right and on time.
The University called Andrews & Hamilton President Bernie Andrews for help with the project.
“They needed a quick response on a lot of details,” says Andrews. “But they didn’t have a lot of those details ironed out. They needed help in making some decisions about what type of storage equipment to use and we had the know how to be able to provide them with some good information.”
There were two major hurdles that Andrews & Hamilton had to contend with. First, with the consolidation of several different storage facilities into one, the SKUs ran the gamut from very large to very small. Andrews & Hamilton needed to figure out a way to be able to store a large variety of shapes and sizes.
“The university has a home care department and needed to store wheel chairs, portable beds and patient lifters,” Andrews says. “We had to accommodate large products like that and also have room for things as small as pill bottles and bandages. It was very specialized.”
However, Andrews & Hamilton has relationships with some of the best storage and handling manufacturers in the world. The company quoted a variety of products, ranging from Wireway/Husky pallet rack to Nashville Wire Products wire decking to Keneco carton rack.
“We had to use pallet rack with a solid deck so that they could store the wheelchairs and beds,” says Andrews.
Those relationships helped Andrews & Hamilton deal with the first hurdle. But the second hurdle was a little more difficult.
“There were some unique time constraints on this project,” Andrews says. “We had three weeks from the time we got the purchase order to the time we were on the job for installation. Our suppliers were amazing; from providing special design features to the accelerated shipping date, they were incredible.”
Working with a variety of products on an accelerated schedule required precise timing.
“The biggest obstacle was coordinating the shipping so that all of the material got there at the same time so that we could put it all together,” Andrews says.
With more than 50 years in the business, Andrews was up to the challenge. Not only did he coordinate the sale, he was also available to answer any questions or concerns that arose during the installation process, visiting the warehouse daily throughout.
UNC trusted Andrews & Hamilton to deliver under difficult conditions and they proved to be up to the challenge.
DISTRIBUTOR: Andrews & Hamilton
SUPPLIERS: Wireway/Husky, Nashville Wire Products, Keneco
Complex Project Doesn’t Throw Bastian for a Loop
A returns center servicing a large national retailer needed to increase the number of products processed within its facility. The company was using a belt conveyor loop to take product away from processing stations that continuously recirculated it. Associates at the processing stations would look for an indicator label on the continuously circulating product and manually pull the item from the line. However, this was often slow and the returns center wanted a more efficient sortation and conveyor system.
To accomplish this task, the returns center turned to Bastian Solutions to design and fabricate a custom conveying solution that could quickly sort a large variety of products into three separate lanes.
Because it was a returns center, the solution needed to handle a variety of products ranging from a two-inch blister pack to a large television or vacuum cleaner. In addition, the returns center wanted a very cost effective system that fit within a small footprint, all while handling up to 120 products per minute. Various solutions were presented to the customer, but the Intralox ARB conveying solution was able to meet all the client’s objectives most efficiently.
Bastian Solutions Application Engineer Rick Meyer got to work configuring a system that would incorporate all of these elements. “The overall system and concept was done by me and Rodger Katter, another Bastian application engineer who assisted on the project,” Meyer says. “For the Intralox components specifically, it was a team effort between me, Rodger, Matt Carson, our Intralox regional manager and Intralox engineers.”
The Bastian Solutions team then turned the company’s custom automation group, Bastian Automation Engineering, to complete the project. As a licensed Intralox OEM, Bastian Automation Engineering was able to fabricate a 4 stage descrambler, roller top accumulation conveyor and sortation conveyor using Intralox’s Active Roller Belt (ARB) technology. These elements were combined with gapping conveyor and powered, down line conveyor from Hytrol to complete the sortation system.
This system was able to increase overall throughput of product, allowing for a reduction in shifts needed at the returns center. It also accepts a wide variety of products with various bottom surfaces, with speeds of 120 products per minute. The products are presented to operators in a single file, gapped line, making products easier and more ergonomic to handle.
“We were able to meet and exceed our customer’s aggressive benchmarks for the implementation schedule, throughput, read rate, descrambling effectiveness and successful diverts that were tied to financial penalty clauses,” Meyer says. “Our around the clock installation schedule was able to minimize impact on their business operations, which was important to them. Overall, we helped our customer meet the expectations of its customer and reduce the overall cost of operations.”
DISTRIBUTOR: Bastian Solutions
SUPPLIER: Intralox, Hytrol Conveyor Co.
WW Cannon Beats the Cold
A dairy bottler was in need of office space and a conference room for its Dallas, TX, location. The company had a long term relationship with WW Cannon (Dallas, TX), which had helped construct a cold storage warehouse called “The Vault” 10 years ago. The bottler called WW Cannon President Greg Brown to discuss its options.
Initially, the company had looked at constructing a temporary building outside the vault. They even went so far as to order the building before deciding at the last minute to go in a different direction.
The vault is a 40,000 sq. ft. refrigerator, and the company realized that they had tons of unutilized space right inside the room. The company contacted Brown to see if this would be possible.
Ten years ago, WW Cannon had installed a mezzanine in the vault. To make room for the offices, Brown proposed expanding that mezzanine to make room for modular offices and a conference room above the floor. This, however, posed some logistical challenges.
“There was a chain conveyor on the floor that they used to move milk crates. The conveyor is on an elevated floor, 2.5 ft. off the concrete floor that we had to attach the mezzanine to,” says Brown. “We had to devise a way to build around that elevated floor so that the mezzanine would be structurally sound without interfering with their work or the structures underneath the mezzanine.”
Brown called Joe Lombardi at Cogan Wire & Metal Products to dis cuss the logistics.
“Joe helped us on the design end,” Brown says. “We had to maneuver approximately three ft. of platform to avoid the chain conveyor in the floor. We had to do some cantilevering to get it to fit and also be able to have the offices on top. Joe was instrumental to the success of the project.”
With the design in place, WW Cannon began to install the 1,000 sq. ft. addition. Then, the company was able to install Starrco modular offices and a conference room right on top of the mezzanine. The entire project was $85,000 and ended up being more cost and space effective than the company’s original plan to build a separate building.
“We were able to go into an area that nobody had really thought about creating space for an office in and we were able to create that space for them,” says Brown. “The customer has been so happy with the install that they are considering another 1,000 sq. ft. expansion to the end of the mezzanine.”
DISTRIBUTOR: WW Cannon
SUPPLIERS: Cogan Wire & Metal Products, Starrco Company
A Team Effort
Gestamp Automotive is a Tier 1 Automotive Supplier in Lapeer, MI, that has unique storage needs. The supplier has to perform case pick pulls as well as full pallet pulls for just in time order fulfillment to assembly plants. Every day they deal with partial pallets and tens of thousands of SKUs of product that need 100 per cent selectivity. The company was running out of space and needed to achieve greater density while maintaining complete selectivity.
Gestamp has worked with Doug Senecal, sales representative for Bell Forklift (Clinton Township, MI), for years on all of its material handling needs. The company contacted him to put together a turnkey solution to its storage issue.
“The customer had been using standard pallet rack systems for years,” says Senecal. “We put together a proposal that included a combination of carton flow and push back racks.”
Senecal contacted Eric Gonda, vice president of UNIRAK, to help design and implement the complex system. He gave Eric the specs, pallet size for the push back and carton size and weight for the carton flow system and asked him to engineer and conceptualize the system.
Initial discussions between Doug and Eric began in September 2011, and UNIRAK provided conceptual drawings for the racking. Eric contacted Neil Dixon, U.S. business development manager with 3D Storage Systems Limited, to provide push back carts.
“3D manufactures high quality push back cart systems that integrate easily into our pallet rack systems,” says Gonda. “3D also provided three dimensional drawings that were easily understandable for the customer. They lend expertise to the layout, clearances and mounting configuration needed to allow us to present a professional integrated solution from start to finish.”
Adds Gonda, “We also used UNEX for the carton flow portion of the project. UNEX manufactures very high quality carton flow product and we used their low profile Span Track for this project.”
Bell, UNIRAK and 3D all worked very closely throughout the entire process. This close partnership was vital to the success of the project, as the customer had some eleventh hour changes that needed to be addressed. First, the customer requested custom colors. Then, in December 2011, the customer had to restructure their quantities due to budgetary concerns. The three MHEDA members took these challenges in stride and were able to stay on track and help the customer every step of the way.
In early 2012, Gestamp ordered 113,529 pounds of product, including 25 back to back configured bays of three deep pallet rack, and 150 3 high, single wide lanes of 25 ft. long carton flow. The customer originally ordered 100 single-wide lanes, but was so impressed that they expanded the order, adding a lane for every level.
The $161,000 order in hand, Bell worked tirelessly to get the installation done as quickly as possible. This allowed Gestamp to keep its production schedules during their peak production hours of the week without interference from the installation crews. Senecal and his crew worked 12-hour days through the weekend and were able to complete the entire installation in three days.
“This was a true team effort,” says Senecal. “Both UNIRAK and 3D were involved from start to finish and UNIRAK even arrived at the job site every day of the installation. It was just an outstanding project.”
DISTRIBUTOR: Bell Forklift
SUPPLIERS: UNIRAK Storage Systems, 3D Storage Systems Limited