Optimizing Production with a Pallet Rack Flow Storage System

April 1, 2008
This case history about U.S. Gypsum Company comes courtesy of Steel King. It has been selected and edited by the MHM editorial staff for clarity, content

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

To expand business and its capacity to serve customers, United States Gypsum Company, North America's largest manufacturer of gypsum-based products, added a new production line to its Baltimore facility, which created both opportunity and challenge. Besides requiring maximum pallet rack use in a minimum footprint at the facility, the company aimed to optimize production and inventory management. The company chose a warehouse pallet flow storage system.

In a flow storage system, dynamic flow rails are inclined in a static rack structure, allowing loads placed on one end to move by gravity on rollers to the unloading end, with speed controllers acting as gentle brakes. As a load is removed, the loads behind it move forward automatically.

'We had plenty of overhead warehouse clearance but not enough pallet rack storage,' says Adam Simpson, Joint Treatment Department Manager at U.S. Gypsum Company's Baltimore plant. 'We wanted to minimize labor and forklift handling while adding first-in, first-out (FIFO) capability to rotate stock and maximize shelf-life for customers.'

The dynamic storage racks also had to be heavy-duty, able to withstand high forklift traffic and carry a load of about 1,200 pallets. The company turned to Delmarva Material Handling, a material handling systems integrator, and Steel King, a flow storage system and pallet rack manufacturer.

Delmarva Material Handling recommended and U.S. Gypsum Company selected the SK3400 pallet flow system, which provided storage efficiency, inventory management and durability benefits. Because the dynamic flow system depth, height, and width were well matched to the size of the facility and capabilities of the material handling equipment, it was a good fit for the company's high volume, space efficient needs.

Once loaded, FIFO product rotation is automatic and the rack eliminates labor and fork truck operation to arrange loads. Forklifts are required only for the initial and final unloading. Compared to traditional selective pallet rack use, which requires multiple aisles, aisle space can be reduced by 75 percent and up to 100 percent more product can be stored.

'We're optimizing production, storage, and inventory management,' says Simpson. 'Pallets are stored four high and 15 deep. 'By increasing storage capacity in our existing facility, we've eliminated the need for new construction. We've reduced physical plant overhead and material handling costs; and as product automatically rotates through storage, shelf life is maximized for customers.'

To avoid construction and logistics bottlenecks, Delmarva Material Handling helped to integrate the dynamic flow storage system with warehouse space and material handling equipment. Steel Guard protective railings were added to protect equipment and personnel from fork lift damage.

Simpson notes that the flow storage racks are built to last. Compared to open-back, roll-formed columns, the pallet flow racks have 44 times the torsional strength and 250% greater fork truck impact strength, but with the security and safety of a bolted beam connection. Its continuously welded, all tubular construction allows greater durability with less maintenance, and full horizontal and diagonal bracing increases frame strength.

'The pallet rack flow storage system has worked flawlessly from day one and is virtually maintenance free,' concludes Simpson. 'It's been a great addition to our plant, and we're considering further additions as we continue to grow.'

MHMonline.com 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.