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How Kenco manages service parts

Very narrow aisle racking and system-directed picking result in efficient storage, accurate inventories and virtually error-free picking.
By Bob Trebilcock, Executive Editor
December 01, 2012

Kenco, Chattanooga, Tenn.
Size: 478,000 square feet
Products: Spare parts
Throughput: 1,800 to 2,000 lines per day
Employees: 80
Shifts per day/days per week: 2 shifts per day, 5 days per week

Kenco turned to a combination of floor storage, very narrow aisle racking and conveyor to optimize a conventional warehouse dedicated to spare parts order fulfillment. The facility picks and ships approximately 1,800 lines per day.

  • Receiving: Product arrives at the receiving docks (1) in a variety of ways, including small parcel, less-than-truckload (LTL) and full truckload shipments.

  • Small parcel: The facility receives about 120 small parcel deliveries a day. These are scanned and compared against an electronic purchase order. Most of them will have to be packaged before they are put away into storage. For that reason, they are placed on a pallet and then delivered by forklift to the packaging area (2). Once packaged, they are staged for putaway into one of several storage areas (3, 4, 5, 6).

  • LTL and full-truckload shipments: Pallets on LTL and full-truckload shipments are unloaded, scanned and compared against an electronic purchase order. Once they are received in the warehouse management system (WMS), they are tagged with a license plate bar code label and sent directly to a storage location (3,4,5,6).

Storage: Product is stored in four different types of areas. Pallets are stored on the floor in bulk storage areas (3), in very narrow aisle (VNA) rack storage areas (4), or in a VNA bulk storage area (5).

Small parts are stored in very narrow aisle, dense rack storage area (6). To initiate the storage process, a lift truck operator scans a bar code label on the paperwork associated with a pallet. The WMS directs the operator to a storage location. There, the operator scans a location bar code label and the bar code associated with that pallet to confirm that the pallet was put away in the right storage location. 

Picking: Since this facility is filling orders for spare parts, the typical order is just two lines and 1.2 items per line—or a total of 2 to 3 items per order. For that reason, one associate is responsible for picking all of the lines in a multi-line order. The picking process is initiated when an order selector scans a bar code on a pick list. The WMS will identify the locations and items to be picked for the first order. Items in the very narrow aisle storage areas (4) are accessed with a turret truck while items in normal aisle storage areas (3) are accessed with a lift truck. Small parts stored in the dense racking storage area (6) are picked and scanned to a tote and larger items are picked and scanned to a pallet. Meanwhile, the largest items are stored on a pallet.

Packing and shipping: After picking, product is conveyed to packout stations in the shipping area (7) area to be prepared for shipping. One conveyor line handles small parcel shipments (8) while another conveyor line conveys LTL shipments (9). Smaller orders are packaged and sealed. Pallets are wrapped for shipment. Once they are packaged and ready to ship, small parcel packages are conveyed directly into a truck in the shipping docks (10). Similarly, palletized orders are removed from the conveyor and loaded onto an outbound trailer (10).

System suppliers
System integrator, warehouse control and warehouse management systems: Kenco, developed in-house.
Pallet rack and very narrow aisle rack: Ridg-U-Rak
Lift trucks: Toyota Material Handling U.S.A.

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About the Author

Bob Trebilcock
Executive Editor

Bob Trebilcock, executive editor, has covered materials handling, technology and supply chain topics for Modern Materials Handling since 1984. More recently, Trebilcock became editorial director of Supply Chain Management Review. A graduate of Bowling Green State University, Trebilcock lives in Keene, NH. He can be reached at 603-357-0484.


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