Maximum Production, Minimum Space with Die Racks

Dec. 1, 2007
This case history about Greenheck comes courtesy of Steel King. It has been selected and edited by the MHM editorial staff for clarity, content and style.

This case history about Greenheck comes courtesy of Steel King. It has been selected and edited by the MHM editorial staff for clarity, content and style.

Greenheck is on a growth streak, and efficient use of die racks has eased its growing pains. Having doubled sales in the past five years to almost $500 million, Greenheck is America's leading manufacturer of ventilation equipment. But continuous growth was straining the company's main production facility, which supplies parts nationally.

"We not only had to ramp up production, but also get leaner since we had limited production floor space," says Larry Toboyek, Greenheck's Manager of Tooling and Maintenance at its main production facility in Schofield, Wisconsin.

To streamline production and meet quality, cost and delivery goals, Greenheck purchased larger, progressive die stamping presses and built larger dies in its in-house die center. This helped to automate production into an essentially continuous process. The problem: storing the massive dies, measuring up to 8'x8' and weighing up to 10,000 lbs., was impossible on standard storage racks, which typically support loads of only 5,000 to 6,000 lbs.

"We had to stack heavier, higher, and more flexibly in die racks to meet our space and production requirements," says Doug Baumann, a manufacturing engineer at the Schofield facility. "And the storage racks had to safely withstand potential abuse."

The company turned to Wisconsin Lift Truck Corp, a material handling and automated systems distributor, and Steel King an industrial die rack and storage rack manufacturer.

The heavy-duty Steel King die racks provided Greenheck with the strength, capacity, and flexibility to efficiently store even their largest dies where needed on the production floor. "Because the racks are made of structural steel, with uprights of structural tubing and shelves of channel, they're very robust," says Baumann. "They allow us to safely store an extra 5,000 lbs. per rack beyond typical racks."

In consultation with Greenheck and Wisconsin Lift Truck, Steel King provided standard sized die racks for use with standardized sub-plates, allowing efficient die stacking and use of production floor space. For optimal storage flexibility, the shelves are removable from the uprights and the shelf heights are adjustable in 3" increments across their entire vertical height.

"Standardizing rack size at the required capacity not only enabled us to add more shelving but also stack dies as high as our building height allows," explains Toboyek. "That gave us the means to cost effectively store our dies despite limited production floor space." In addition, the die rack solid metal shelf design allows die placement anywhere on the shelf, and can accommodate a variety of die sizes, allowing dies to be slid on or off a shelf for easy access and storage.

The efficiency of Greenheck's die rack storage has helped the company maximize its production, enabling continued growth without adding unwanted production overhead.

"We've added about 10 to 15% to our bottom line with the larger dies without adding any square footage to our stamping facility," says Toboyek. The efficient, high-capacity die racks help make this possible, and should generate ROI within three years. They'll pay for themselves many times over if they perform like some of our other Steel King racks, which have lasted decades and should last for decades more."

For more info on optimizing production with die rack storage, contact Donald Heemstra at Steel King, 2700 Chamber St., Stevens Point, WI 54481; call 800-826-0203 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 Clyde Witt([email protected]), MHM Editor-in-Cheif. All submissions will be edited for clarity, content and style.