Casebook 2011: Kennecott Utah Copper Company refines storage

Workers gain control and access to spare parts inventory with automated solution.

By ·

Equipment downtime can be greatly reduced when spare parts are readily accessible. But if spare parts are spread across acres with no tracking system of any kind, finding the one a customer needs can be a chore. With an automated storage system, one company found a way to easily organize and retrieve parts, all in a smaller footprint.

At the Kennecott Utah Copper Company, spare parts ranging from small electronic components to heavy machine parts were previously located at 20 sites over many acres, both indoors and outdoors. In this arrangement, the quantity, location and condition of all inventory was virtually unknown. When parts were needed, employees had to walk the facility and search for items.

To improve the process, the company implemented a hybrid system using automated and conventional materials handling solutions.

Today, all spare parts in inventory are tracked using an enterprise resource planning system. Conventional racks were installed within a new 300,000-square-foot warehouse to hold and organize large items. Small spare parts are stored in 220-pound capacity metal pans in a two-aisle, single-deep mini-load automated storage and retrieval system (AS/RS) centrally located and easily accessible within the facility (Daifuku America, 801-359-9900, http://www.daifukuamerica.com).

Installed in less than three months, the 31-foot tall AS/RS uses vertical space and 2,000 square feet of floor space within the facility. The mini-load AS/RS holds a variety of parts stored in 3,312 rack locations, some with more than one part number per pan. The small AS/RS is a stand-alone piece of automation that integrates only with a U-shaped output conveyor where employees can manually pick items retrieved by the AS/RS and return items ready for storage.

A warehouse control system manages the operation of the storage/retrieval machines and tracks inventory quantity and location. The system communicates in real time with the company’s central planning system, and keeps logs and physical inventories.


About the Author

Josh Bond, Contributing Editor
Josh Bond is Senior Editor for Modern, and was formerly Modern’s lift truck columnist and associate editor. He has a degree in Journalism from Keene State College and has studied business management at Franklin Pierce University.

Subscribe to Modern Materials Handling Magazine!

Subscribe today. It's FREE!
Find out what the world’s most innovative companies are doing to improve productivity in their plants and distribution centers.
Start your FREE subscription today!

Latest Whitepaper
Download the full 2016 Modern Materials Handling Salary Survey
How does your earning power match up with your peers across the material handling industry? Materials Handling salary survey, Warehouse manager salary survey, Warehouse Salary Research
Download Today!
From the November 2016 Issue
In Whirlpool Corp.’s Clyde, Ohio, factory, mobile robots have automated the delivery of parts to the line. The result is a more consistent, efficient and safer operation.
Optimizing home delivery: It takes more than planning
9th Annual Salary Survey: Success and Satisfaction Continue to Reign
View More From this Issue
Subscribe to Our Email Newsletter
Sign up today to receive our FREE, weekly email newsletter!
Latest Webcast
2016 Warehouse/DC Operations Webcast: Confronting omni-channel complexity
During this webcast we’ll examine the current activities, trends, and best practices in warehouse and DC operations management and how companies plan to address complex issues associate with omni-channel fulfillment.
Register Today!
EDITORS' PICKS
Systems Report: Whirpool puts mobile robots to work
In Whirlpool Corp.’s Clyde, Ohio, factory, mobile robots have automated the delivery of parts to...
Modern Materials Handling’s 2017 Casebook Collection
The 2017 Casebook features more than 35 case studies that put the spotlight on successful innovation...

Brownells: Designing for Efficiency and Growth
Brownells’ new Iowa distribution center has taken touches—and miles—out of the order...
Industry celebrates National Manufacturing Day
Fourth annual Manufacturing Day is a grassroots effort by U.S. manufacturers to improve the public...