Storage Stories

Aug. 1, 2002
Here are some case histories that illustrate best practices for today's dynamic storage needs.
Storage Stories

Case histories from St. Paul Harley-Davidson, LewisBins, Toyota, W.A. Schmidt and SpaceRak.

Storage Neatly Corrals ‘Hogs’

When Tom and Melanie Giannetti took over St. Paul Harley-Davidson in 1999, they had a vision for growth based on offering superb customer service. That vision quickly became a reality, and they found they needed to expand operations. Though it required moving power lines and pipelines, they decided to double their existing facility from 26,000 square feet to more than 58,000 square feet.

Giannetti contacted a local company, JTD Industrial Supply, which in turn chose Advance Storage Products to meet the requirements for storing new and previously owned Harley-Davidson motorcycles.

Prior to the expansion, the bikes were floor-stacked, wall-to-wall, in a single level. This meant that each day (weather permitting), employees had to physically walk the bikes outside to the parking lot, which served as a showroom. If it was raining, the staff kept the bikes inside and shuffled as many as 10 to access the one bike they wished to show a customer.

Advance Storage Products provided a 2-Deep Lo-Pro Pushback system, three levels high, increasing the number of bikes they could store in an area from about 20 to more than 100. Lance Kugler, parts manager, said that the pushback system is not only more practical, it also provides a more organized look. The racks have also eliminated damage from moving the bikes in and out of the storage area each day.

Hot Storage

For automotive suppliers, optimizing production often means parts must be delivered and stored in the containers in which they arrive. For this Tier 2 Midwest manufacturer of seats for small cars, the containers also had to withstand the extreme heat generated by the parts they housed.

The containers hold springs, metal stampings and similar components used in seat assembly. These parts are dropped into the containers immediately after machine production. Thus, temperatures can be extremely high.

The solution was returnable fiberglass-reinforced plastic containers from LewisBins+ Plexton to transport and store the parts from the suppliers to the seat assembly facility. Not only do these containers offer heavyweight capacity and efficient nesting styles, they also come in many colors — a neat method the Tier 2 supplier uses to manage inventory. This supplier receives springs and stampings from three primary suppliers.

When the containers arrive, they are placed in flow racks or stacked under assembly areas. After assembly, the empty containers are shipped back to the appropriate supplier. The solution is simple, neat and efficient.

The Drive for Storage Improvement

It takes more than 40,000 parts to assemble a car. To achieve any kind of productivity, it’s critical that parts storage be highly organized for fast and accurate retrieval.

This was the challenge that faced the General Stores at the Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky plant (TMMK). This $5 billion automotive complex is now Toyota’s largest production facility outside Japan. Spread over a 1,300-acre site, the 7.5-million-square-foot facility employs more than 7,000 people. Automotive parts produced here include axles, steering components, machine blocks, cylinder heads, crankshafts, camshafts, rods and axle assemblies. Production capacity is 500,000 vehicles and engines per year.

The General Stores is centrally located in the facility’s main production area and is the small parts hub. Parts for all operations — including stamping, die manufacturing, paint, plastics, assembly engine/axle machining and assembly — are stored here.

The main problems with the old storage system were that it was open to the environment and inflexible. For example, store personnel constantly struggled with the problem of protecting sensitive electronic components, yet keeping them readily accessible. Too much dust and particulate matter on them could lead to part malfunction.

John Raymer, body weld maintenance manager, noted, “We needed a portable, mobile system with built-in flexibility. Such a system would accommodate a constantly changing body shop that could be retooled with smaller and more complex line parts.”

TMMK turned to Lista International Corp., a company that designs and manufacturers innovative, efficient, modular storage systems. Lista recommended its Shelf Converter Drawer System, a freestanding set of modular drawers in a pre-assembled frame. The drawers were inserted into the store’s existing shelving. Electronic parts are now housed in an enclosed space and protected from the environment.

“The storage drawers have saved us time,” said Raymer. “Because the drawers extend 100 percent, we’ve found that it is 15 percent to 50 percent easier to find a part.”

Making Air Space Productive

Thirty feet of empty vertical space can be put to profitable use, thought managers at EDO Electronic Systems Group. To accomplish this goal at the Deer Park, New York, factory, managers transferred mezzanines from a recently vacated portion of the building and installed three new ones. Managers were able to transform free vertical space into 20,000 square feet of productive floor space. The result is greater space efficiency and lower operating costs.

SpaceLoft mezzanines, from W.A. Schmidt, were installed in the stockroom, the machine shop and shipping/receiving.

In shipping/receiving, a mezzanine was parked back-to-back with an existing mezzanine. Bridging plates were attached between the two structures to create one large, continuous mezzanine. And, since the expanded mezzanine provided another means of egress, a stairwell previously located in the middle of the old structure was removed — further freeing valuable floor space on the ground.

In the stockroom, engineers built an interconnected three-tier mezzanine system by matching an existing mezzanine with a moved mezzanine and a new structure. Elevator service lets lift trucks operate on all three levels as well as the ground.

Working in the Deep Freeze

Detroit-area gourmet food producer, Turri’s Italian Foods, recently remodeled its freezer, expanding it to 6,000 square feet. To speed storage and retrieval of food in the sub-zero environment, management selected the square-tube Raptor-Rak framework and PushBack mobile pallet storage system from SpaceRak.

The combination provides 812 pallet positions and reduces the time an operator must spend inside the freezer. Lift trucks never need enter a rack bay as loads are always accessed from the aisles. The four-deep PushBack system increased storage by 75 percent.

Now, work done by lift truck operators in the freezer is easier and fast.