Home >> Sales and Marketing >> Collaboratively Solving Any Issue

Collaboratively Solving Any Issue

MHEDA dealers and suppliers team up to solve customers’ most complex issues.

By Steve Guglielmo

There is a reason that MHEDA members are the most well-respected companies not only in the material handling industry but in all of business. It isn’t because they have the best products, though they do. It’s because of their knowledge, expertise and tireless drive to serve the customer’s best interests, no matter the situation. MHEDA members aren’t order takers. They’re problem solvers. Customers rest easy knowing that no matter what obstacle they face, their dealer will take care of it. And the dealers know that they can make any suggestion or promise because MHEDA suppliers will be there to help in whatever capacity they possibly can. This year’s Sales Success Stories simply reinforce that there is no problem too large or small for MHEDA members. Below are just the latest in a long-line of examples of MHEDA members going above and beyond for their customers.

Sherwin-Williams Does the Asking

Morse SSSWhen it comes to paint, nobody knows better than Sherwin-Williams. They are so confident that they can answer your paint questions, their motto is “Ask Sherwin-Williams.” However, when it came to actually mixing their famous paint in the safest, most efficient way possible, the Greensboro, North Carolina, Sherwin-Williams plant needed an expert. They turned to Robby Reighley, an outside salesperson at Carolina Material Handling (Greensboro, NC).

“They had 55-gallon drums of raw materials and paint that needed to be lifted, poured and weighed before being transferred into a second container to be shipped out,” says Reighley.

Prior to working with Reighley, the drums were poured into containers in one location and then rolled to another part of the facility to be weighed. Not only was this inefficient for time, it also required the drums to be lifted twice. Recognizing that there must be a better way, Reighley called Phil Mulpagano, sales manager at Morse Manufacturing Company (East Syracuse, NY).

“Morse is extremely knowledgeable about all of their products, especially Phil, so I always lean on Phil when I have a customer that has drum handling needs,” Reighley says. “I explained the situation to Phil and he immediately suggested a Morse 515-t-114 scale with vertical drum pourer and transporter. He knew that would solve all of their problems.”

To further convince Sherwin-Williams that this was the solution for them, Reighley and Mulpagano figured out that Morse had provided these scales to another Sherwin-Williams factory in Ohio. They arranged for Reighley’s contact at Sherwin-Williams to travel to this facility to see the Morse solution in action.

“The Ohio client told them about the success they have had with the unit and showed him exactly how it works,” Reighley says. “He loved it. When he got back we started the process.”

In November 2010, the Greensboro Sherwin-Williams branch completed the $80,000 order for five Morse 515-t-114 units.

“They use the units all of the time and have been just thrilled with them,” Reighley says. “In fact, my local contact told me that some of the other Sherwin-Williams plants will be contacting us about the units soon.”

Together, Reighley and Mulpagano made the branch faster and safer.

“Morse really values their customers and they take pride in the products that they manufacture and stand behind them,” Reighley says. “It’s refreshing in this day and age to work with a company that has that type of commitment.”

Distributor: Carolina Material Handling

Supplier: Morse Manufacturing Company

SJF Eases Customer’s Pain

One of the most important things to consider when working with an assembly line is ergonomics. If equipment is improperly designed, operators are less efficient and more likely to get hurt. That risk is even higher when operators are manually moving 5,000-pound generators down a conveyor line, as was the case at Cummins Power Generation’s Line 15. They knew that they needed a more ergonomically sound solution and so they contacted Jim Sterner, SJF Material Handling’s Vice President of Engineering.

“There were some serious ergonomic issues that they were dealing with,” says Sterner. “In addition to having to push the generators by hand, operators sometimes had to get on their hands and knees to attach hoses and clamps to the bottom of the generators.”

In addition to the obvious ergonomic issues presented by the set-up, Sterner also noticed that the line had no built in buffer stations. This led to operators falling behind or conversely waiting around for one person to complete their job.

“We analyzed how much time each station would take so that we could divide the work evenly,” Sterner says. “The areas where work would move a little quicker, we made sure to build buffer zones.”

The team also decided to use a power drag chain roller conveyor to transport the generators from station to station, which helped the line avoid having to manually push the generators down the rollers.

“We actually built a test unit here at our manufacturing facility to see how it would transfer one station to another. We had them come out and see the test solution so that they could see how their end product would work,” Sterner says. “They were very happy.

With the design in place, the team faced a new challenge. They were tasked with installing the entire system over the July 4th weekend so that Cummins could come in on Monday without having their work interrupted.

“The company came to us because they were concerned about their ergonomics,” Sterner says. “This system is 100-percent ergonomically better. But because of the balance of the system and them no longer having to wait for anybody with the buffer stations built in, they were also able to increase their production by 20- to 25-percent.

“They are very happy with the solution. They had a specific need that required a custom-engineered solution. This wasn’t something that could be taken off of a shelf, it had to be built from scratch.”

Distributor: SJF Material Handling

Supplier: Lewco Conveyor

Doing More With Less

Gottlieb, a scrap aluminum processing and melting facility in Pennsylvania, was faced with a conundrum. Their production demands were growing, as were their employee demands. However, the company had just sold a portion of its building to another company so they were forced to meet those growing demands with less space. Looking for answers, they contacted Cranston Material Handling Equipment Corp (Pittsburgh, PA) to help solve this space dilemma.

To make things even harder, the facility was not climate controlled. Being a melting facility, it often got unbearably hot in the summer and cold in the winter. Employees were using a trailer in the parking lot as a break room and locker room. The situation was not ideal and the company was looking for a way to install two locker and break rooms inside the building, without losing any of their valuable floor space.

Greg Engelmeyer, a senior account manager at Cranston, consulted with the customer and Cranston President David Cranston, Jr. to figure out a way to make this happen. The team determined that the best course of action would be to install modular buildings that could house the break and locker rooms on mezzanines. However, this presented its own set of challenges.

“The company wanted a bathroom in the locker rooms,” Cranston says. “Because this was a mill, though, the floors in the locker room would get very dirty and need to be wet mopped at night. Typically mezzanines aren’t designed for wet installations.”

Cranston proposed working with a flooring contractor who could put down a water-resistant floor inside the building that would stand up to the water that would be used every night.

“It was a welded, seamless floor that would allow them to put the bathrooms on the mezzanine and still be mopped every day,” Cranston Project Coordinator Amy Capaccio says.

This solution was more expensive than a traditional mezzanine floor, but Engelmeyer explained to the customer that it was a good investment if the structure was going to be built and function as they had envisioned.

“If you put down a traditional tile, over time the floor is going to rot out,” Cranston says. “It wouldn’t stand up to the heavy use that they would give it. It just wouldn’t last.”

Capaccio adds, “Being a mill, employees also get scrap aluminum shavings stuck in their boots. That would really scuff up and destroy a traditional tile floor. That would only make for a maintenance problem.”

The customer was convinced and signed off on the $140,000 project. Capaccio began working with Mike Stearns from Cubic Designs to build the 20 ft. x 60 ft. mezzanine.

In addition to the actual structure and flooring, the customer commissioned Cranston to equip the structure.

“It was almost a turnkey,” says Capaccio. “Not only did we supply the mezzanine, modular building, and the flooring, we also supplied the toilet partitions, lockers, benches, and kitchen cabinets for the break area. They also wanted the building to be insulated from the sound of the process machinery inside the plant, so we added specific sound reduction board insulation on the roof.”

The team also helped the customer protect their new investment by designing special guards to go around the mezzanine columns to prevent their large forklift equipment from hitting the columns and compromising their integrity.

“There were a lot of moving pieces,” says Cranston. “But the customer is extremely happy with the finished product and very satisfied that they made the right decision.”

Distributor: Cranston Material Handling Equipment

Supplier: Cubic Designs.

A Working Holiday

When Doug Hume approached the engineers at Southworth Products (Portland, ME) about a lift table project that R.H. Brown Co. (Seattle, WA) was working on for an aerospace manufacturing company, they told him that it was “the most technically complex lift that they had ever seen.” Add to that the fact that the lifts were built off-site and had to be delivered in a one-week window the week before Christmas, and this project was destined to be difficult.

Hume was actually working on two different projects for the manufacturer. The lift tables were an integral part of a tool used in the assembly of the wings of the airplane. The manufacturer had been working with an engineering firm that they had hired to design the tool. When the engineering firm was stumped, the manufacturer approached Hume. Hume brought the concept to the engineers at Southworth to determine if the tables were even possible to build.

“I sent the drawings electronically to the folks at Southworth and we had several conversations about the lifts,” Hume says. “It required a lot of engineering, especially because when the wing lifts were raised they had to have end-shifting capabilities where the platform could be shifted six-feet to the side to move the workers over the wings.”

The manufacturer also needed eight freestanding material lifts that were to be used in the assembly of the fuselage.

“These lifts were much larger,” Hume says. “They were probably six-feet deep and 16-feet long.”

Because of the complexity of the projects, Hume had weekly teleconferences with the engineers from Southworth and the engineers from the manufacturer. This was especially helpful when, in October, the manufacturer wanted a change to the design of the material lifts.

“The company wanted two control consoles on the lift instead of the one that we had designed and they also wanted to have additional safety controls. That was a lot of engineering work late in the game,” says Hume.

However, R.H. Brown and Southworth were able to get both sets of lifts built to the customer’s satisfaction in the accelerated time frame and they were installed by Christmas.

“They had used some other manufacturers and vendors in the past that they had been very dissatisfied with,” Hume says. “But they were very satisfied that the project was built exactly the way they envisioned it.”

In all, the project included two lift tables and eight material lifts for a total of $550,000. It was a very merry Christmas.

Distributor: R.H. Brown Co.

Supplier: Southworth Products

AK Designs A Great Customer Experience

St. Cloud, Minn.-based Coborn’s is a very successful grocery retailer in the Midwest, with 47 locations 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 January 2013, Coborn’s contacted Jerry to begin looking at the layout and design of 2 new Cash Wise Grocery Stores in North Dakota. With this recent oil boom in North Dakota there was a huge need for additional grocery stores.

After reviewing the drawings, 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 47 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

Manufacturer: SpaceRak a division of Heartland Steel Products, Capital Safety

Out of the Cold

Martin Bros. Distributing, Inc. in Cedar Falls, IA, is one of the largest food distribution and restaurant supply companies in Iowa and is continuing to grow throughout the Midwest. Like many food service and grocery distributors, however, Martin Bros. struggled with inefficient and labor-intensive order selection. The distributor picked orders within a Planned Inventory Management (PIR) System with random selection of cases throughout all vertical racking levels using a man-up order picker. This process was not only slow, but also required double handling of cases as they were merged back into their order routes.

To rectify this inefficient system, Martin turned to E-Distribution, a Wylie, TX-based distributor of storage engineered and integrated conveyor systems. E-Distribution had already completed a number of successful rack expansion and renovation projects for the distributor and had a good working relationship established.

Martin Bros. needed E-Distribution to expand its storage capacity in its freezer, cooler and dry good areas and to help redesign their slow picks systems.

Together, E-Distribution and Martin Bros. conceived a solution to consolidate the slow moving SKU’s in gravity fed case flow shelving and bin storage units within a 3-Level Walk-Pick Module. This kept travel to a minimum.

With this solution, items are picked from case flow shelves using hand carts that roll on the Resindek mezzanine flooring.  Picked items are placed on the conveyor system, designed and integrated by E-Distribution for routing to the palletizing area where, based on the number of items picked by route, orders are merged or palletized and sent to shipping. The company also installed a man-up forklift and dedicated forklift battery charger in the replenishment aisles for floor-to-ceiling product restocking in the case flow shelves.

Additionally, a unique plastic tote system was integrated on one of the mezzanine levels for storage and selection of smallwares, small totes are stacked together (3 wide x 6 high) and screwed to the floor and racking. Tote dividers allow the flexibility to store between 60 and 196 slots per bay.

Not only did the system make Martin Bros. more efficient, but with E-Distribution handling the teardown of the existing PIR system, they were able to salvage all quality, good condition components for integration into the new pick module. Some additional pre-owned materials and new components were also used, which saved Martin Bros. nearly $500,000.

For the faster moving SKU’s, E-Distribution designed case flow racking on the floor level of several selective rack rows, allowing the order selector to travel the pick path and select some of the slow items in the aisle on the ground with 4 to 5 shelves per bay. They are placed directly on the picked pallet going to the truck with no merging required.

Despite some challenges wrought by extreme cold temperature and bad weather conditions, E-Distribution’s Field Service teams coordinated a successful installation.

Says Ethan DeWall, Martin Bros. Director of Warehousing, “We quickly realized significant productivity improvements using the consolidated walk-pick module with approximately 15% savings in labor costs in just 3 months.

Distributor: E-Distribution
Supplier: Cornerstone Specialty Woods Products, XXXX, XXXX

The Early Bird Gets the Worm

On some projects, a customer has a clear and vivid picture of everything that they want and when all is said and done it ends up 100-percent different. Such was the case with Cree Manufacturing’s new 208,000 sq. ft. building addition.

20130404_151645As Cree prepared to move into its new facility, the company was in need of a new fleet of trucks to use in the addition. They had a very clear idea of what they were looking for, three-wheel electric lift trucks, walkie rider pallet trucks, and turret trucks. And they put this massive project up for bid.

Luckily for both Cree and Wisconsin Lift Truck Corp. (Brookfield, WI), WLT Accounts Manager Jim Gerlach is a major morning person.

“My contact at Cree starts every day at 6:15 a.m.,” Gerlach says. “I’m an early riser as well, so every day I was waiting next to his parking spot when he pulled into the building.”

Cree was running two shifts and Gerlach knew that they would have trouble getting through both shifts on a battery-powered unit. He suggested opportunity charging as an alternative.

“Nobody had mentioned that to them,” Gerlach says. “I explained to them that with the capability to opportunity charge when operators took a break or went to lunch, they would have no trouble getting through both shifts.”

Gerlach worked with his contacts at SBS Batteries to put together some information about opportunity charging to present to Cree. They were swayed.

However, battery vs. opportunity charging was not the only inefficiency that Gerlach saw in the plan.

“They were planning on using 30 to 35 walkie rider units,” Gerlach says. “I explained to them that the walkie rider isn’t the easiest or safest option to carry their loads. I suggested that they consider a Jungheinrich EKS110L low-level order picker instead.”

Gerlach brought a demo unit from an account he had in Illinois to demonstrate the unit. With all the demos and great help from WLT and Jungheinrich the company ended up purchasing a Jungheinrich ETVQ25 bidirectional lift truck, 17 Jungheinrich ETV214 moving mast reach trucks with 340 inches of lift and 30 Jungheinrich EKS110L 160E low-level order pickers, each outfitted for opportunity charging.

“I had a lot of help throughout this process from Greg Goodman with MCFA,” Gerlach notes. “When you’re putting together a $1 million deal, there are a lot of questions to be asked. He had all of the answers that we needed. This was an absolute team effort.”

Though it wasn’t what they initially envisioned, the end-result was a better, faster and safer operation for Cree.

Distributor: Wisconsin Lift Truck Corp.

Supplier: Jungheinrich

Consolidation Without Expansion

2013-05-13 08.01.38-1In May 2013, ELITE Supply Chain Solutions completed a tall order, both literally and figuratively. A National Chain Auto Parts distributor made the decision to close a distribution center and consolidate the business into an existing Portland, Oregon, DC. This additional inventory would service 120 stores. Though the customer was bringing a breadth of inventory into an existing facility, they did not want to expand the building. It also was absolutely imperative to the customer that they be able to continue to do business out of both facilities during the consolidation.

ELITE President Scott Hennie, who had a solid working relationship with the customer, had to develop a solution that would meet both complex demands. He proposed expanding an existing shelving platform and re-locating existing shelving from the main floor of the distribution center to the platform. In place of the now re-located shelving, he suggested constructing new pallet racking, flow rack and push-back rack to handle the additional depth of inventory.

In addition to storage, ELITE also updated and expanded the existing conveyor system to handle the added business volume coming from the consolidated location. ELITE used a combination of new equipment and used equipment transferred from the closed facility. This expansion required a carefully planned and executed system of three “cut-over weekends” where conveyor was transferred from the existing facility to the new design. These cut-overs allowed the operation to stay in business and not miss a single day of shipping.

To pull off a project of this size required extensive planning. Hennie began the initial design and planning in January 2013 and installation was completed in May. Using a variety of suppliers and consultants (SSI-Steele Solutions platforms, Teilhaber Manufacturing pallet rack, Hytrol conveyors, Control Electric Co. controls, as well as engineering support from Hy-Tek Integrated Systems), Hennie was able to coordinate the logistics of executing the $1.2 million project around an operating business.

Along with providing equipment and services, ELITE coordinated and managed the permit process – no easy task in Portland.  One of the biggest hurdles was complying with environmental codes, which required the client to add an additional 57 trees to its lot.

“To be successful, we listened to the customer’s end goals and objectives and focused on solving those in the most efficient way possible,” says Hennie. “It was about problem solving, not trying to sell the most product.”

Distributor: ELITE Supply Chain Solutions

Suppliers: Steele Solutions, Inc, Teilhaber Manufacturing, Hytrol Conveyor Co., Control Electric Co., Hy-Tek Integrated Systems

Racks on Racks on Racks

When building a factory supply store from the ground up, there is one word that comes to mind. Big! When a national factory supply store approached Hy-Tek Material Handling Executive Vice President of System Sales Donnie Johnson to fill its brand new 800,000 sq. ft. location with storage, he knew that it was going to be a big, big project.

The store’s needs were two-fold. It needed storage rack for its imports coming in and also pick modules for its in-store product.

“The products in the store ranged from a 9 in. x 6 in. x 1 in. box to 2,500 lb. pallets,” Johnson says. “They handle products from chain to chicken food and everything in between. And the imports were a whole new animal, because pallets come in in different sizes and shapes from all over the world.”

And while some would be daunted by the size and scope of the project, Johnson was unfazed, having done multiple facilities for this customer in the past. He set to work determining what the most efficient storage media would be for the building’s traditional and import storage.

He contacted Dave Fuller at Unarco Material Handling to discuss the customer’ s very specific height and weight restrictions.

“They had the engineering capabilities to make the customer’s specific needs work,” says Johnson. “They were able to do this in the delivery time frames that we needed as well.”

The scope of the rack was enormous. 350-400 ft. long pick modules, all four levels tall were tabbed to handle the 15,000 SKU’s that the store had. In all, the project spanned more than 25,000 pallet locations.

“This was a very unique project,” Johnson says. “From a pure storage perspective, there was import rack, standard rack and pick modules. Just the storage portion of the project was about $9 million.”

Installation on the massive project began January 1, 2013 and was completed on August 1. There were more than 170 truckloads of rack that went into the building.

Distributor: Hy-Tek Material Handling

Supplier: Unarco Material Handling

Sunbelt Comes Through Just In Time

IMG_1455A just-in-time warehouse and assembler, and longtime customer of Sunbelt Industrial Trucks (Dallas, TX) was in dire need of extra storage and assembly space. The assembler had commissioned a new project that would require a 70,000 sq. ft. warehouse addition that needed to be outfitted with storage and forklifts with room to spare for an assembly area.

The assembler contacted Sunbelt Territory Manager Ken Tumey to discuss this addition.

“They definitely had some preconceived notions about what they wanted and how to fill the warehouse,” says Sunbelt President Bill Rowan. “They were looking at using order pickers in 11 ft. aisles. However, they didn’t realize that you couldn’t place pallets with an order picker in that aisle.”

Ken came up with a solution that would not only allow them to both pick and place pallets, it would also save them 36% space on their aisles. He proposed using a Flexi G4 VNA truck. This proposed change would allow the assembler to use 7 ft. aisles, rather than the 11 ft. they had counted on, and would also go in and out of trailers, which provided additional flexibility to the building’s design.

At first, the customer was hesitant.

“They had always used internal combustion trucks,” Rowan says. “They were skeptical that an electric truck would be able to withstand the 11- and 12-hour shifts that they ran without getting a second battery, which would obviously be an added expense.”

Tumey, along with representatives from Texas Industrial Equipment, suggested going to an opportunity charge, rather than a two-battery system. This would allow operators to charge the trucks during breaks and would easily cover the shifts.

Still skeptical, Sunbelt worked with Narrow Aisle, Inc. President Warren Cornil to convince them. Warren and Ken shared references and showed the customer the Flexi demo video, to give a visual as to how the trucks work. This, combined with Ken’s experience and knowledge of electric forklifts, was enough to convince the customer to follow his lead.

While great news for Sunbelt, the customer went on to say that they wanted to be operational in less than 30 days. Sunbelt worked with Cornil to deliver a stock unit as quickly as possible and set the unit up for opportunity charging. The customer also purchased a Nissan IC truck to use on the dock and run between buildings.

In all, the two trucks cost a combined $90,000. The customer was able to get an additional 36% of space that they hadn’t originally counted on, as well as the assembly area that was vital to the success of the project.

“Sometimes you can make something look good on paper but in reality it just doesn’t work,” says Rowan. “This was one of the times where the end result was actually better than it looked on paper.”

Distributor: Sunbelt Industrial Trucks

Suppliers: Narrow Aisle, Inc., UniCarriers Americas

AK Helps Customer Visualize a Solution

IMG_2569Milestone AV Technologies needed help determining the best course of action to expand their storage capacity. They were open to anything, from modifying their existing facilities to moving into a new, larger facility. They just needed an experienced expert to help them arrive at the most cost-effective decision.

Enter Brian Koski, senior systems design specialist at AK Material Handling Systems (Maple Grove, MN). Brian was referred to Milestone through a mutual business relationship and was just the man to help Milestone make those tough decisions.

“They had a third party storing pallets for them,” Koski says. “From a financial standpoint they had to make a change to bring that storage under their roof.”

Koski provided the square footage requirements for both a new facility and for their existing facilities, and helped Milestone determine what equipment they would need to purchase both from a storage and truck standpoint.

“I got them to the point where they could make a decision for themselves based on what direction their business was going,” says Koski.

Milestone ultimately decided to lease a new, existing facility to expand their storage. Koski and the team at AK set out to determine how best to fill the new space. He contacted Bob Grotkowski at Ridg-U-Rak, Inc. who helped Koski design some of the custom over the door rack that would be installed in the building.

Between AK, Ridg-U-Rak and J&L Wire Cloth, Milestone was in excellent hands for its rack needs. The end result was 10,000 pallet positions of selective pallet rack, some customized for deep pallets and a $500,000 project. Installation on the project was even completed a week ahead of schedule. And to protect this sizeable investment, Koski also recommended rack guards to shield the rack from any collisions with forklifts.

“It felt good helping them throughout this process with the space planning,” Koski says. “Even though they ended up with a fairly conventional warehouse, every decision was made for a reason. They are very happy with the end result.”

Distributor: AK Material Handling Systems

Suppliers: Ridg-U-Rak, J&L Wire Cloth

MHEDA Members Get the Job Done

During a regularly scheduled fleet review with a large automotive parts manufacturer, LiftOne (Charlotte, NC) learned of an expansion project that the manufacturer was undertaking in its aftermarket distribution arena. The customer was taking over an existing warehouse that had been operated by another company in a completely different industry and they were doing so immediately.

There were myriad obstacles, however, that needed to be cleared before moving in. First and foremost, though they needed this space and they needed it right away, it was actually not in their budget and therefore needed some cost effective solutions to get the project done. More than that, though, was the fact that the customer did not know how long they were going to need this expansion. It could have been as short as six months or as long as two years. Finally, the customer also had a fleet of trucks due at their existing facility.

Beyond the immediate barriers lied logistical challenges. The 100,000 sq. ft. facility had been fitted with storage racks on 14 ft. aisles with heavy wooden planks to handle the non-uniform heavy loads that the previous tenant required. Not only would this system not be enough capacity for the manufacturer, it also would not pass the county fire codes. The fire marshal informed the manufacturer that the old over-head sprinkler system was not sufficient.

With the help of several MHEDA suppliers, LiftOne sprang into action tackling each challenge head on. Nashville Wire was able to furnish wire decking that would replace the wooden planks. This solved the permit and sprinkler issues and allowed the building to be built to code. With the help of rack suppliers, LiftOne was able to reconfigure the 14 ft. aisles down to 9 ft., picking up the extra storage capacity that the customer needed. Hyster was able to furnish the main facility with new, up-to-date equipment and EnerSys was able to outfit these trucks with new power to keep the customer’s expenses down. Finally, LiftOne had help from DLL to refinance the trucks coming off of lease.

All of this was accomplished in less than 90 days and allowed the manufacturer the space and stability it needed to store its heavy parts and bulk items.

“We succeeded in proposing this solution to a delighted customer in large part due to the capabilities of our partners in MHEDA,” says LiftOne President Bill Ryan.

Distributor: LiftOne

Suppliers: Nashville Wire Products, Hyster Company, EnerSys, DLL

AWS Expands Online Success

Screen Shot 2013-11-19 at 2.42.48 PMIn today’s day and age having a successful web presence is vitally important for businesses. One company that has taken advantage of the online and social media boom is American Warehouse Systems (Blaine, MN). From search engine marketing to social media, American Warehouse Systems has enjoyed tremendous success connecting with “Staff Sargent Smith”, its target persona, online.

However, by the Spring of 2012, Mark Juelich, Chairman & CEO, saw an opportunity to further integrate his social media efforts with the company’s website while both maintaining his Google rankings and improving the ability of his website to convert more website visitors into leads.

“Internet marketing has come so far so quickly, that I felt it was just time to tear down and start fresh with a clean slate,” Juelich says.

Mark and his in-house SEO and website development team set out to plan and build a new and improved website.

“Our initial goals for the website were to have a creative design that appeals to our target audience, works as a lead-generating tool and is designed according to current advanced website practices,” Juelich says.

To achieve this, Mark reached out to Site-Seeker, Inc. He asked Site-Seeker President and Co-Founder Brian Bluff to take these concepts and design a website that could convert. Once the design was created and approved, American Warehouse Systems’ internal development team coded the website.

“We needed the design to be creative, effective, professional and created quickly,” Juelich says. “The new design creatively appeals to our target audience, advertises a clear message and utilizes current lead generation strategies while continuing to grow in traffic and leads.”

Bluff adds, “This was a tricky project. Not only did we have to give the entire website a face lift, but had to do it without upsetting Mark’s hard earned search engine rankings. The good news is that Mark’s in-house team had really thought the project through.”

With the new design, AWS expects to gain a 15-percent increase in leads. This, as social media is exploding.

“The Site-Seeker staff was very accommodating and knowledgeable,” Juelich says. “They have the innovative design and development skills to provide excellence in current website creation and management.”

Distributor: American Warehouse Systems

Supplier: Site-Seeker, Inc.

Flow Storage System Accelerates Company’s Expansion

Expanding business in a tough economy isn’t easy, but that’s how Crider makes it look, having just added a 100,000 sq. ft. warehouse to its Stillmore, Ga. facility to accommodate all the new business it’s getting.  Before the company could continue expanding in the consumer goods marketplace, it first had to rethink its production and warehouse logistics.

“We’ve experienced tremendous growth over the past decade, resulting in our warehousing and logistics becoming a bottleneck,” says Mark Howell, Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Crider, the market leader of canned chicken in the U.S. “We’d outgrown our old warehouse and offsite storage, and had finished product stored in virtually every square foot of available space.  We had to streamline logistics to meet demand and continue growth.”

The company’s capacity was limited by empty pallets cluttering up production and inefficient floor stacking of palletized product, which created inventory management, forklift access, and truck loading challenges.

“We had to move product to get to other product, which made FIFO product rotation difficult,” explains Phillip Rehberg, VP of Operations at Crider.

Crider turned to Craft Equipment Company and Steel King. To unclutter the production area and free up about 2,000 sq. ft. of space for more equipment, the Over-Dock Pallet Storage Rack by Steel King was implemented. This kept empty pallets safely out of the way until needed in a specially designed, over the loading dock storage rack that accommodates empty pallets, skids or returnable shipping containers.

“To continue growth and clear the logistics bottleneck with maximum pallet rack space in a minimal footprint, a needs analysis showed that a warehouse dynamic flow storage system was the best choice for Crider,” says Buddy Chadwell, Craft Equipment’s Vice President of Sales, who oversaw an initial existing warehouse improvement project, followed by an expansion, then a new warehouse project, using the SK3400 pallet flow system by Steel King.

Since the flow system depth, height, and width were limited only by the size of the facility and capabilities of the equipment, it was a good fit for Crider’s high volume, space efficient needs.

Because of the success of the flow system in the existing warehouse, an initial system of 864 pallet positions was soon expanded to a system with 1440 pallet positions.  More recently, a new 100,000 sq. ft. warehouse was completed, which houses a total of 10,240 pallet positions of flow rack, including the previous flow rack, which was moved there and reconfigured to optimize storage at the new facility.

“Instead of inefficiently floor stacking product two to three pallets high, now we can securely store product four pallets high and twelve deep with the flow storage system, which maximizes storage density,” says Rehberg.  “Before the flow system and new warehouse, we might ship 16 truckloads on a good day.  Now we can routinely ship 25 truckloads in less time with less labor.”

“To protect the efficient logistics of our new warehouse and flow storage system, we wanted rack that would withstand inevitable forklift impact over the years with minimal maintenance and production downtime,” adds Rehberg.

At Chadwell’s suggestion, Crider chose SK3000 pallet rack. A number of rack features helped the company meet its strength, durability, and maintenance goals. For added protection against fork truck impact, Craft Equipment recommended and Steel King provided two protective products to further safeguard vulnerable rack areas.

“Our warehouse logistics, which was once a bottleneck, is now a competitive advantage that enables us to efficiently grow our business while meeting customers’ needs,” concluded Howell.

DISTRIBUTOR: Craft Equipment Company

SUPPLIER: Steel King Industries

Tinkering With a Work Platform Solution

The Production Squadron at Tinker Air Force Base needed to replace their method of repairing jet engines with a newer, safer approach. The squadron works on TF33 jet engines, which require a lift to move workers, parts, tools and equipment up and down the length of the upright engine. They were concerned their existing equipment lacked standard safety devices which could put their workers at risk for injury. .

The base contacted Cisco-Eagle Project Manager Joel Pason to discuss replacing the equipment and finding a better and safer solution.

“They requested we update and drastically improve the safety features on their existing equipment, while maintaining the existing functionality and ease of use they were accustomed to,” Pason says. “We gathered information and then partnered with Autoquip to come up with a design.”

Making matters trickier, however, were some custom needs the Air Force Base required. For instance, the facility layout dictated that the lift be self-supporting with no structural ties to the building. An overhead crane above the workstation meant that there could be no obstruction above the lift. Lastly, the essential design element of the platform had to allow access to the engine from multiple directions. The best way to do this was to custom build an oval-shape platform with hinged openings for loading or removing the engine from the workspace. The design also overcame a major functionality obstacle by implementing a custom platform restraint and lock-out system, to safely allow access under the lift at times during the process.

“The initial concept was for a four post lift but impeding the overhead crane ruled out that configuration,” Pason explains. “So the final design utilized a self-supporting cantilevered lift. The combination of that size cantilever and having to be free-standing really created some unique designs in the base of the unit.”

“Because we were able to provide a customized platform with an oval cut out, it allowed for the workers to move to multiple heights and multiple places around the engine to do the repair work without having to reposition themselves each time,” says Robert Spiva, Supervisor of Special Projects with Autoquip.

Cisco-Eagle and Autoquip worked for three-months modifying the designs to accommodate the needs of the Air Force Base.  Joint on-site visits were held with the customer, including one with the lead engineer from Autoquip to review site and application specifications first-hand before completing the final design. The final design of the work platform has provided the workers with a safe work environment while improving their productivity through ease of use and access.

“We satisfied their needs by creating a design that gave the operators enough freedom to complete their jobs quickly and efficiently, but still making the machine safe to use,” Pason says.

Distributor: Cisco-Eagle, Inc.

Supplier: Autoquip Corporation

Making The Most of Their Space

Greg Folkins Photo, Architectural, Interior Design and Commercial Photographer in TexasWestern Storage and Handling (Denver, CO) was working with an international technology company that invents, manufactures and services technologies and parts associated with global macro trends. The customer’s Colorado Springs, CO, facility services, maintains and restores equipment for worldwide defense-related government applications, making it critical that its in-house repair services operate without compromise in the most efficient way possible.

The customer was in the third of a four-phase project at this location and was working with Western Storage and Handling each step of the way. With the $1 million first two phases already completed, Honeywell returned to Western to discuss phase three.

Phase three involved the facility’s repair area. Operations and inventory from a second location had been merged with this facility, which forced the customer to accommodate additional square footage under one roof without building construction. For efficiency purposes, each operation had to be strategically located to its supporting counter parts.

With 19 ft. high ceilings and fire codes that would not permit stacked storage units to exceed 12 ft. high, simple stacking of inventory would not do. The company reached out to Western Storage and Handling’s Phil Puckett for his help.

Phil, in turn, reached out to Cubic Designs to discuss a potential mezzanine solution for the project. Cubic Designs provided field measurements, engineered drawings and calculations for the mezzanines. In addition, Western worked with local contractors to include lighting, fire suppression, and HVAC underneath the mezzanines.

In all, Phase 3 consisted of two Cubic Design Mezzanines totaling 7,000 square feet and approximately 342 lineal feet of Porta-Fab modular walls. The supplier used the modular walls to create a large repair lab. On the mezzanine floor, they stored equipment in large collapsible bulk containers that technicians use in the field. Not only did Western provide the mezzanine but also all of the associated lighting, column foundations, fire suppression, HVAC, engineering and building permits.

“It was truly a turnkey project,” Puckett says. “Through our successful completion of phases 1 and 2, they had developed trust in our capabilities and knew we would complete the project on time and within budget.”

With work cells now strategically located next to one another, travel from one facility to the other is no longer required. This has resulted in expedited repairs and shipment of goods, as well as more efficient workflow.

Distributor: Western Storage and Handling

Supplier: Cubic Designs, Porta-Fab Corporation