A smart storage system designed to suit the high volume stock movement profile of one of Australia’s largest food manufacturers is a key feature of Linfox’s new supply chain solution for Kraft.
Linfox has recently completed its first year of 3PL operations for Kraft, handling finished goods storage and distribution from its custom-built DC at Somerton in Melbourne’s northern suburbs. Housing 28,000 pallets, the DC incorporates Dematic’s new Colby Drive-In Rack and Protect-a-RACK systems for optimal storage space efficiency, flexibility and high levels of operator productivity and safety.
"“Two of our most important key performance targets in the DC are product availability and vehicle turnaround. Our goal is to make any product that arrives available for despatch within three hours, and to make sure vehicles are turned around in under an hour," said Linfox DC Manager, Peter Nairn.
"Dematic’s smart storage system design gives us the ability to do so efficiently and safely," he said.
In a typical week, the DC will distribute upwards of 420,000 cases, with the quantity rising to over 560,000 during peak periods. Around 70% of the order volume involves full pallet handling, which is why Dematic’s storage system design focused on flexibility and ease of use to maximise productivity and safety.
Dematic’s Project Engineer, Joe Carmody, said: "A key feature of our storage system design is that any pallet can be placed anywhere in the system. This enables pallets to be put away quickly, and eliminates any concerns about accidental overloading.
"We also customised the design of our new Drive-In Rack for Linfox to improve the storage and handling of Kraft’s highest throughput product lines," added Carmody.
The clear entry space for a Drive-In Rack lane is normally 1350mm. However, given the large quantity of pallets Linfox would be handling - more than 90% of goods received are full pallets - Dematic recommended increasing this to 1450mm.
"In a high velocity distribution environment, the additional 100mm in the width of the Drive-In lane makes it a lot easier, quicker and safer for forklift operators to drive in and out of the rack structure, maximising productivity and throughput.
"The superior structural strength and design of our new Drive-In Rack also enabled us to increase the height of the first pallet rail level to 3.6m. This further improves safety by eliminating the potential for an operator, or their cabin to strike the pallet rail during forklift entry and exit," added Carmody.
"When you set up a new warehouse for a new customer and are handling new products for the first time, it takes a while to work out the best storage and handling strategy," said Linfox’s Peter Nairn.
"It took us a couple of months to get the product mix right in the Drive-In area, and we are now typically achieving around 85-90% storage utilisation, which is excellent.
"The various enhancements to the design of the Drive-In Rack and the use of the Protect-a-RACK system have had a significant impact on the speed and safety of pallet handling," he said.
Operator safety is optimised throughout the 23,000 sqm DC, with Colby Protect-a-RACKs fitted to the front of all aisle facing rack uprights and end guards protecting the ends of each rack. Colby Protect-a-RACK substantially increases the impact resistance of rack uprights by spreading and transferring any forces from an impact to the rack frame bracing
- the strongest section of the rack
- improving safety and reducing on-going rack repair costs.
"Linfox has a strong commitment to providing a safe workplace," said Nairn.
"We believe the extra investment in rack protection is not only worth it from an OH&S perspective, it will also pay for itself many times over by greatly reducing on-going rack repair costs.
"Anyone who doubts the effectiveness of rack protection equipment should have a look at this operation. We run a fleet of 19 reach trucks in the warehouse and have been going full tilt for over 12 months. Thanks to Colby Protect-a- RACK, we’ve sustained virtually zero damage to the rack structure."
To ensure the on-going safe operation of the storage system, Dematic carries out a Rack Safety Audit every six months to identify any damaged equipment or potential OH&S hazards concerning the storage system.