Casebook 2011: Fastenal finds shortest path to shipping success

Mini-load system cuts steps in materials handling process for national distributor.

By ·

From a single store launched in 1967, Minnesota-based Fastenal has grown into one of the nation’s largest distributors of industrial fasteners. To accommodate that growth, Fastenal transformed its 530,000-square-foot Great Lakes distribution center in Indianapolis from a regional DC serving 275 stores into a master DC that stocks 163,000 SKUs and replenishes the company’s 13 other distribution centers around the country.

At the heart of the system is a goods-to-person picking system powered by a mini-load automated storage and retrieval system (AS/RS; TGW Systems, 231-798-4547, http://www.tgw-ermanco.com)). With 126,000 storage locations and 12 fast, double-handling cranes, the mini-load delivers totes to workstations where operators select orders in an ergonomic and efficient environment.

Mini-load technology handles the medium to medium-fast moving SKUs in a facility that offers same-day order processing. To fill orders received from the warehouse management system, the mini-load AS/RS retrieves totes from storage based on the departure times of the trucks. The totes are conveyed and sorted to an operator at a workstation, who scans the tote to verify the product.

The system is processing an estimated 16,000 packages per day while picking from as many as 100,000 unique SKUs each month.
Through the use of mini-load technology, the company has reduced the number of times it touches a product in the distribution center from as many as 12 to as few as two. In between, all of the handling is executed by automation. The company reports the mini-load has also improved inventory accuracy and eliminated errors.


About the Author

Josh Bond, Senior 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
Sorting Out Your Sortation Options
Guiding you through the process of evaluating and selecting the right “mission-critical” sortation solution
Download Today!
From the April 2017 Issue
How does a fastgrowing, e-commerce startup company build out order fulfillment capabilities? Thrive Market answered that question with its new facility in Indiana.
2017 Warehouse/DC Equipment Survey: Investment up as service pressures rise
Putaway 101: Everything in its Place
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
ProMat closes: Make your plans for Modex 2018
With a record number of exhibitors and attendees seen at ProMat 2017, MHI anticipates more of the...
Keynote: Magic is the result of over-preparation and over-delivering to customers
During his keynote presentation Wednesday afternoon, Earvin “Magic” Johnson told a packed...

Keynote panel confirms digital supply chain shift seen in new MHI study
Wednesday’s keynote panelists agreed it is time to embrace the shift to digital supply chains seen...
MHI to honor original products, solutions with 5th-annual Innovation Awards
On Wednesday, during MHI Industry Night with Dana Carvey, the winners of the 5th-annual MHI...