Flow-Rack System Meets the Challenge

Jan. 1, 2007
This case history about Boar's Head Provisions comes courtesy of Steel King Industries, Inc. It has been selected and edited by the MHM editorial staff

This case history about Boar's Head Provisions comes courtesy of Steel King Industries, Inc. It has been selected and edited by the MHM editorial staff for clarity, content and style.

A pallet rack system must be deigned to accommodate growth. But what happens if that company surpasses its predictions and grows too quickly? For one distribution center, it meant a frantic retooling and rethinking when the distribution system failed and demand soared.

Boar's Head Provisions is a renowned provider of high-quality delicatessen meats and cheeses. Its 50,000 sq.-ft. distribution center in Holland, Mich., handles 186 different SKUs and services 250 local New York distributors and 120 out-of-town distributors, all on a next-day-delivery basis. Shortly after the distribution center opened with its new flow rack system, the employees began experiencing what many would term their worst nightmare.

"We grew faster than the warehouse could," says Dan Crook, DC's manager. "We experienced what we had predicted as five years of growth in a little over a year."

The storage rack system was overwhelmed, along with the distribution center employees who were scrambling to keep up. "We lost a lot of work hours because our rotation was just terrible," Crook says. "We did not have enough space to rotate properly so we were looking for product continuously. The people on the floor were constantly frustrated, having to work around double-stacked and triple-stacked pallets. It was a lot of wasted money and time, and a lot of pain and agony." In fact, Crook estimates the company was spending upwards of $2,000 a week in overtime, because that's when most of the searching for product was conducted.

To add to the disaster, Crook and his staff discovered that the pallet rack system itself, a pick module installed just before the distribution center opened, was an inferior product. Pallets were sticking and weren't flowing. Wheels were falling off in droves. "I was returning damaged wheels constantly," Crook says. "They numbered in the thousands."

A flow rack system from Steel King Industries, Inc. (Stevens Point, Wisc.) solved the problem

The new system is a 17-bay-long pick module and flow storage system. On the floor level, through the center of the system, is a lit tunnel in which personnel pick orders from either side. Overhead is the flow storage, which is two levels high by five pallets deep. As product is depleted on the floor level, it is replenished by lift truck from the upper levels. The system is in continuous 24/7 operation, through three shifts daily.

The positive impact of the pallet rack system has now gone well beyond the distribution center. "We just had visitors last week from Corporate, and they can't believe the numbers we're putting out of this little place," Crook says. "The company is now looking at taking it to the next level, expanding our New York and Virginia plants into this same pick module style."

Source: Steel King Industries, Inc.

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 Lisa Kempfer ([email protected]), MHM managing editor. All submissions will be edited for clarity, content and style.