Custom storage containers enable growth and optimize operations
PK USA optimizes parts storage and materials handling to continue growth without expanding its warehouse.
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To continue growth, PK USA, a primary supplier of metal body, chassis and plastic injection parts for domestic and international automotive companies, had to optimize operations. The company was using eight different types of containers for storage in existing warehouse space.
“Many of our storage containers used space inefficiently, had weight and stacking limitations, and required frequent replacement because they broke down in our environment,” says Dan Sizemore, a senior engineer at PK USA’s Shelbyville, Ind., facility. “If we hadn’t sought new custom containers, we would have had to expand our warehouse to meet the demands of continued growth.”
By deploying a series of custom containers, the company was able to increase storage capacity by 30% while improving labor efficiency by 20%.
According to Sizemore, for instance, a new product needing parts storage between die set ups was not stackable with wood pallets or wood containers, and required considerable storage space. Sizemore recommended adding a few new custom containers (Steel King, steelking.com) that would be fully stackable and accessible from all sides. This would consolidate storage from eight container types to four custom container types.
“Because we’re now able to store at least 30% more parts in the same warehouse space, we’ve avoided expanding our plant simply to store more parts,” says Sizemore. “We’re able to stack six high with the new containers, versus only four high at best with our previous containers.”
For the parts storage that was unstackable using wood pallets or wood containers, a special rack with adjustable pins was developed that enables securing the part, as well as stacking the racks up to four high for space savings of at least 75%, says Sizemore.
“Unlike racks that are welded in a solid stand for a particular part and must be discarded once the part has finished its lifecycle, the new pin racks are adjustable so we’ll be able to use them for new parts far into the future,” says Sizemore. “Where the lifecycle of a typical automotive part is about four years, we expect to get flexible use of our specialized racks for 40 to 50 years, with ROI in about two years.”
Reducing the need to track, inventory, repair or replace eight types of containers down to four durable containers and specialty racks has improved labor efficiency by at least 20%.
About the AuthorJosh 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.
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