The manufacturing industry sets the tone for the economies in most countries. Growth in this industry is therefore exciting and encouraging, but it often requires upgrades. Two successful companies that found up-to-date solutions to manage their growths are Minnesota-based Nordic Ware and Canadian drug store distribution center Value Drug Mart.
Consumers may recognize Nordic Ware for their cookware, specialty kitchenware products, and bakeware – specifically the bundt pan.
The main plant is overcrowded due to years of double-digit growth. Additionally, there was an inefficient order process, especially transporting parts to and from offsite warehouses. MH&L’s article “Store: Nordic Ware DC Protects Performance by Protecting Rack” summarizes Nordic Ware’s plant manager Bob Clifford saying that Nordic Ware needed to “consolidate warehousing, add storage, and improve distribution to continue growing its business.”
They consolidated their offsite warehousing into a 60,000 sq ft facility that has nearly 30-foot ceilings. To take advantage of the space and anticipate continued growth, Nordic Ware opted for a two-deep pushback rack system. MH&L’s article describes the system: “Pallets are stored behind each other in a series of nested carts and are loaded and unloaded from the same side of the system, eliminating separate aisles for each function. Composed of a stable pallet rack structure along with a series of inclined rails and carts, when one pallet is pulled out, the one behind it rolls forward.” The system they chose was one built for durability – high lift truck volume made repairs a concern. Clifford said, “We wanted a lasting showcase, fit for tours, with minimal downtime or repairs due to lift-truck-caused rack damage.”
Nordic Ware plant manager Bob Clifford said, “With the efficiency gains provided by our new distribution center and racking, we’re meeting ever shorter delivery windows for major retailers across America and overseas. By preventing damage with the impact-resistant rack and guarding, we’ve reduced the need for repair and increased uptime. After applying some of these protective measures plant wide, we’ve significantly reduced lift truck-caused rack damage and improved production. These improvements helped contribute to our fifth straight year of double-digit growth.”
The Value Drug Mart distribution center distributes a wide variety of items, including pharmacy items, to 32 member shareholder stores, 11 Apple Drugs stores, 8 Rxellence Professional Dispensaries, and approximately 300 affiliated stores.
They experienced a rapid increase of front store items with no way to keep up with the demand. In the article “Value Drug Mart Adopts Carousels to Manage SKU Growth,” MH&L’s Tom Andel quotes the DC’s operations manager Dwayne Bilawchuk. He said, “We couldn’t hire fast enough to keep up with the growing demand. We were picking as fast as staff, shelving and technology would permit, but it wasn’t fast enough.” Pallet rack, flow rack, standard shelving and bulk areas make up the multiple pick zones that contain 18,000 SKUs in the 60,000 square foot warehouse.
The static shelving in two zones was replaced with six horizontal carousels. The carousels were automated and integrated with pick to light technology. Each zone contains three carousels, and, after updates, allow for ten orders to be picked at a time.
The results of the automated solution are incredible:
- Pick rate increased by 90%. The original pick rate of the upper carousel was 50 lines per hour. The new system boosted it to 575 lines per hour.
- A reduction in labor by 72%. The man hours required to manage these two zones went from 36 hours a day to ten hours per day.
- A 58% space savings. 2,275 feet of floor space was recovered, making room for items that previously needed to be stored offsite.
- Near perfect pick accuracy
As in most cases, the changes these facilities made not only allowed them to meet growing demands, they also positioned the companies to continue to expand comfortably. While the transformations were surely significant investments, savings were recovered in labor costs and repair or damage costs.
Load Movers Inc. builds quality power tugs that reduce injury and increase productivity in manual material handling. We support the manufacturing industry and applaud growth and upgrades that benefit businesses, people, and the economy. For information about our products, search this site, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 952-767-1720.