Productivity, Efficiency Is Brewing In The Warehouse

April 1, 2007
This case history about S&D Coffee comes courtesy ofCrown. It has been selected and edited by the MHM editorial staff for clarity, content and style.

This case history about S&D Coffee comes courtesy of Crown. It has been selected and edited by the MHM editorial staff for clarity, content and style.

For millions of Americans a morning cup of java provides that extra boost to begin their day. Their love of coffee has also energized S&D Coffee, a longtime family-owned, commercial-market coffee producer.

S&D recently completed a facility expansion to accommodate its latest growth spurt. The Concord, NC-based coffee company experienced nearly a 300 percent increase in production of coffee, tea and specialty products in less than 10 years.

That’s no place for a fleet of average lift trucks. So, S&D Coffee relies on Crown.

Twenty-two rider pallet trucks (PE Series) form the backbone of its material handling fleet. The PEs are in constant motion, shuttling raw and finished materials from one area to another. They’re also used for low-level order picking and to help load trucks. Seven of Crown’s RD 5200S Series double reach trucks and six FC 4000 Series sit-down counterbalanced trucks help move coffee through very tight spaces throughout the warehouse.

The skyrocketing growth has required S&D to carve staging areas out of spaces that solely had been used for lift truck traffic. Double reach capabilities have become a necessity.

“We’re dealing with 12-foot to 13-foot aisles that at times are reduced to 8-foot aisles because we need space to stage product,” said S&D Engineering Manager Carl Teten, who has been using Crown lift trucks at various companies across the country since the 1980s. “The Crown trucks give our operators confidence to maneuver in those areas and the reaching capability to pull the proper order. When we started to experience this rapid growth, I knew that Crown trucks offered the versatility and reliability I could trust to help us be productive.”

From up and down ramps to in and out of trailers, PE Series trucks provide the reliability operators need to stay productive.

Accuracy in the warehouse is critical when product is being pulled from new double deep racks. The Crown narrow-aisle reach truck helped make a change from a drive-in rack system that hindered efficiency with its first-in, last-out headaches.

“The way our logistics have developed to accommodate our spike in growth, a conventional sit-down truck can’t get the job done,” said S&D Warehouse Manager Charlie Frye. “Our Crown reach trucks are working both shifts every day. People in our warehouse won’t give up one of them once they start using one.”

The S&D fleet of Crown lift trucks includes 42 units in all. Those trucks are moving nearly 100 million pounds of product per year from the loading docks, to the warehouse, to the production lines and back to the docks for loading. Their customers are national quickserve and donut shops, restaurants, hotels and large office facilities.

Other Crown lift trucks on the job at S&D Coffee include:

  • Four SC 4000 Series sit-down counterbalanced trucks. They’re used primarily in the lower level warehouse for the specialty coffee area, because space is too tight for four-wheel sit-downs.
  • One RC 3000 Series stand-up counterbalanced truck used in the lower level warehouse.
  • One SP 3400 Series Stockpicker truck used as a maintenance vehicle and order picking, as necessary.
  • One RR 5200 Series narrow-aisle reach truck for stacking product in the packaging area.

PE Series rider pallet trucks are the workhorse of the factory floor, shown here shuttling finished product from production lines to the warehouse.

Attention to detail links companies
S&D customers expect their coffee or tea to consistently match the exact specifications that separate their particular blend from the other 600-plus varieties that S&D produces. Their customers have staked their respective reputations on the quality and consistency of their product. That requires an attention to detail that begins when the raw material is unloaded from the truck and must be maintained throughout the operation.

This mirrors Crown’s attention to detail on each model of lift truck it designs and manufactures. Each is methodically specified to be an ideal match for a customer’s application, and for how the operator will use it. Spend just a few minutes in one of the bi-level S&D warehouses, and it’s easy to see why operators appreciate the Crown difference.

Visibility, safety, flexibility and maneuverability were among the top reasons S&D operators and management are enjoying success with Crown. But there was one detail on the RD 5200S Series that really made this customer stand up (or in this case, sit down) and take notice.

“We’ve come to expect the attributes that go into the Crown brand,” Teten said. “But when we started using the reach trucks with the seat, that detail trumped all the rest. Now, everyone in the warehouse wants a reach truck with a seat."

Performance enhancements to Crown’s RD 5200S Series reach truck range from increases in acceleration, travel speed, and lift/lower speeds. This series features a 3000 lb capacity with lift heights up to 37 feet. It also offers operators sit/lean/stand options for maximum effectiveness and forward/reverse visibility during travel and load handling functions.

In addition, the suspended floorboard reduces shock and vibration and enhances work performance during travel over expansion joints and rough floors. And Crown’s exclusive operator entry bar assists drivers in maintaining proper operator positioning, reinforcing safe truck operation.

The Crown RD 5200S Series reach trucks allow S&D Coffee operators the ability to maneuver in tight environments. This maneuverability is very important especially when operators stage products in the aisles.

Keeping pace
S&D has 27 coffee and tea packaging lines producing shipments for between 200-400 commercial parcel truckloads weekly. In addition, their own trucks’ deliver to their regional warehouses.

Frye and Teten said that Crown pallet trucks handle the daily rigors and challenges provided by the S&D docks. Often the docks left competitors’ units damaged and in need of service.

But the durability of the Crown PE 4000 undercarriage, drive unit and casters have solved that problem and increased uptime. S&D uses that uptime as efficiently as possible thanks to the other features and benefits of Crown lift trucks.

Those perks include unmatched travel speeds – up to 7.5 mph – with smooth acceleration, plugging and braking. Advanced linear speed control, available on high performance models, gradually adjusts speed during height transitions. All are a result of Crown’s exclusive Access 1 2 3® Comprehensive System Control, used on the RR and RD 5200S Series reach trucks at S&D.

Plus the stockpickers feature Crown’s patented Intelligent Braking System (IBS) that combines motor braking with three levels of friction braking for smoother stops at all heights. The focus on operator comfort even includes Crown’s premium anti-fatigue floor mat that reduces the effects of vibration and standing fatigue, while enhancing operator stability.

“Durability is hard to quantify, but with the Crown trucks, we can count on it,” Frye said.

Durability and service
One way S&D Coffee has found to put a value on the durability of its Crown trucks is its decision to phase out the five-year lease plans and move to purchase plans for lift trucks.

Teten and Frye have found that the combination of rugged original construction with dedicated maintenance from their Crown technician, Richard Sidden, is keeping S&D’s Crown lift trucks in such good shape that their service life goes well beyond five years.

Being proactive with the maintenance of the trucks in turn drives down the overall cost of ownership.

An FC 4000 Series truck selects a pallet from a flow-through rack system. Its ergonomic design and rugged durability keep S&D’s time-sensitive, first-in, first-out inventory moving.

“Our maintenance representative from Crown really knows these trucks inside and out,” Teten said. “They’re his babies. Planned maintenance allows the portion of the budget slotted for new trucks to increase because major maintenance issues are decreased. That’s a huge advantage for us.”

Since both shifts in the S&D Warehouse are utilizing nearly the entire fleet of Crown trucks, prolonged battery life is another reliability feature needed to keep S&D running at peak efficiency. S&D averages a shift-and-a-half to two shifts per battery change on its Crown lift trucks.

“The combination of having a durable fleet, with prolonged battery life, and a dedicated Crown technician proactively working to keep our trucks performing at their best is tough to beat,” Teten said. “There’s no other way our warehouse could keep up with such an incredible amount of growth in such a short time.”

Co-commitment to quality
It’s easy to see why the relationship between S&D Coffee and Crown thrives. The stories and histories of the two companies are so alike, that it’s a natural fit to work together.

Both are family-owned companies that started in a small town decades ago and have grown into one of their respective industry’s service and innovation leaders.

Both are still headquartered in the town where the idea was born and owned by the family that started it all.

Both have realized the benefits of vertical integration as a way to do business. S&D has the capability to start each day with “green beans” (un-roasted coffee) and end each day with a cup of delicious brew – all under one roof.

Crown continues to be a leader in its industry in vertical integration with nearly 85 percent of the components of the lift truck being designed and produced within Crown plants.

Source: Crown Equipment Corporation welcomes relevant, exclusive case histories that explain in specific detail the business benefits that new software and material-handling equipment has provided to specific users. Send submissions to Lisa Kempfer ([email protected]), MHM managing editor. All submissions will be edited for clarity, content and style.