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Expanding in a Tough Economy with a New Warehouse and Pallet Rack

Monday, November 5, 2012

Despite the weak economy, or perhaps because of it, Distribution Inc., is expanding its business yet again. Recently, the Lincoln, Nebr.-based commercial warehouse and distribution center, built a new 62,000 sq. ft. warehouse and added over 10,000 pallet rack positions, for a total of about 200,000 sq. ft. of warehouse and 28,000 pallet positions.

“Our manufacturing customers depend on Just-in-Time inventory, yet cannot afford to waste resources on warehouses that may sit half full when demand fluctuates,” explains Bob Winter, Distribution Inc.’s President and CEO. “We offer them just the warehouse space they need, fully staffed and equipped on a 24/7 basis. With our truck fleet, we can typically deliver materials, parts, packaging, or finished goods to their end customers in the Midwest within a few hours.”

“To enable the efficient storage and distribution our customers need, we decided to build our new warehouse around the racking system,” says Winter. “We decided to blueprint the racking, then build the building around it. The pallet rack had to be strong, durable, and adaptable. It had to use all available storage space, as well as accommodate a range of customers and changing pallet sizes.”

For help integrating the right storage racking system with the warehouse building and required fork trucks, Distribution Inc. turned to Lift Solutions, a Midwest-based material handling systems provider that has implemented turnkey projects nationally.

Craig Zegers, the Lift Solutions Account Manager who helped with system integration, recommended and Distribution Inc. chose the SK2000 selective pallet rack, a boltless, closed tubular upright product by Steel King, a leading manufacturer of material handling and storage racking products.

Compared to open back roll formed columns, the closed tubular uprights are 44 times more torsion/twist resistant, with 250% greater frontal impact resistance and 68% greater side impact resistance. All beams are constructed of high-strength (55,000 p.s.i. minimum) steel, and holes are placed on the column's face, not the corners, minimizing strength loss.

“Steel King’s SK2000 pallet rack provided the strength we needed to maximize storage capacity, durability, and selectivity,” says Zegers. “With it we were able to install special 40-foot high rack uprights on one side, and 34-foot high rack uprights elsewhere in a building with a 45-foot high ceiling at its highest point. This enabled us to fit 10,000 selective pallet positions in a narrow aisle format, using Crown turret trucks, a man-up style forklift that allows picking and put away on both sides of the aisle.”

“We expect to be at least 20 percent more efficient in inventory, distribution, and delivery with the new warehouse and rack system,” adds Winter. “That means customers will get their product, packaging, or materials even faster, which is critical for Just-in-Time systems.”

The selective rack system’s boltless assembly also enables it to quickly adapt to changing storage needs, while minimizing maintenance down time.

“The rack’s boltless design makes it easy to adjust or reconfigure as needed, such as to change beam height for large items or allow for varying pallet sizes,” says Winter. “With this flexibility, we can meet the needs of a whole group of different customers. We can optimize for efficient storage and inventory of virtually any size or configuration, whatever the customer needs.”

Zegers adds, “Since the rack has a boltless design, it is not only easy to install and reconfigure but also to repair and replace, if rack damage occurs. This can cut the cost of maintenance while minimizing operational downtime.”

To make their storage racking system even more fork truck resistant, Distribution Inc. opted for Steel King Column Core column reinforcement, which can make the SK2000 pallet rack five times more impact resistant at the front corners and sides where the upright is the most vulnerable.

According to Zegers, column reinforcement on the bottom 72-inches of one portion of the rack provides added protection from fork truck damage without interfering with product put away or picking.

Because the pallet rack is powder coated rather than painted with enamel, it's 94% more resistant to chips and scratches.

"Our customers bring their customers to tour our new warehouse and racking,” says Winter. “Even the rack’s powder coat is part of a powerful first impression. And with the rack’s strength, durability, and adaptability, we know it will be optimizing the capacity, efficiency, and delivery of our customers’ inventory for a long time.”

For more info, contact Donald Heemstra at Steel King, 2700 Chamber St., Stevens Point, WI 54481; call 800-826-0203; email: dheemstra@steelking.com or visit the website www.steelking.com.

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