Saturday, June 19, 2010

Potter Logistics Favour Tall Skinny Racks

(they've upped their Pallet capacity by 12,000)
Shipping News Feature

UK - The Potter Group, multimodal logistics and rail freight specialists and with over 1.6 million square feet of warehousing under their management, looked long and hard at the best way to increase storage capacity at their 165,000 square foot North West distribution centre at Knowsley, Merseyside. After extensive research the company opted for redeveloping the racking system without recourse to obtaining larger premises.

The facility had been used predominantly as a bulk paper store until 2007, when the emphasis was switched to the storage of pharmaceutical and chemical products, clinical nutrition and other prescription foods.

To accommodate the change, additional pallet racking was required: when the site was mainly used as a bulk paper store, its pallet capacity had been just over 4000 locations, but this was insufficient to cope with the demands of Potter’s growing client base in the private medical sector.

Various storage schemes were considered before the company settled on a high bay very narrow aisle (VNA) racking design served by articulated forklift trucks supplied by Narrow Aisle Flexi. The top beam of the new racking layout is 11.2 metres high and the aisles are 2.2 metres wide. In total, the new storage area provides 16,743 pallet locations and, because of the fluctuating production and sales patterns of the products stored at Knowsley, it has been designed to allow both slow moving and frequently picked items to be accommodated.

“Our priority from the outset was to achieve maximum storage density within the square footage we had available,” explained Bryan Mulvey, general manager of the Knowsley distribution centre. “We considered using reach trucks but decided that articulated forklifts offered greater throughput and flexibility.”

“The Flexi’s ability to unload incoming trailers like a counterbalance machine and serve our VNA racking means we have been able to reduce double handling and cut the overall size of the forklift fleet and labour resource that we would have required at Knowsley had we gone for the reach truck option,” he added.

Narrow Aisle Flexi developed and launched the Flexi articulated truck 20 years ago and since then the Flexi has become the most popular articulated forklift truck in Europe. The articulation possible means the trucks can perform in a much tighter space and staff can soon be trained to understand and control the different ergonomics involved in their design.