SAs first 'super-complex' warehouse

Leading warehouse design, manufacture and installation company, APC Storage Solutions SA, has built what it calls the country’s first ‘super-complex’ warehouse for a leading ingredients and food technology company.

The client’s six business units have been brought together into a single warehouse near Polokwane, Limpopo. The warehouse is used to chill, store and distribute light loads to the region’s restaurant, catering and hotel industries, making it relatively different to the larger pallet handling warehouses that are common in the FMCG industry.

“Our client’s customers don’t order a lot of stock at one particular time, but they certainly keep them busy with their demands for variety,” says APC’s Managing Director, Fred Albrecht. “This made designing for fine picking and high-speed operation a challenge that we were eager to tackle.”


Customised solution


APC Storage Solutions SA came up with the solution to custom-design up to 51 different bay profiles using a mixture of racking types. Each bay is kept to the same depth, but the decking material, level height and even breadth vary throughout the warehouse, making it really good at storing smaller items, larger items and awkwardly shaped items without wasting space.

“Smaller picking typically requires a lot more staff, which is challenging if you’re aiming for higher-than-normal density in a warehouse. Normally, fine picking eliminates narrow aisles from becoming viable due to increased activity, but thanks to our exceptionally compact Artix® articulated forklift that can operate in aisles as narrow as 1.6 metres, we successfully implemented it throughout the warehouse,” says Albrecht.

Providing the client with a 400% expansion, the end result is a 6 000 square metre warehouse with an average pallet density of 1.5 pallets per square metre. The first three levels of each row are reserved for finer picking, while larger bulk-storage pallets are kept at higher levels. “The sheer size of this warehouse can be summed up by looking at the length of picking space, which totals well over two kilometres,” says Albrecht.


Long-term partnership pays


APC Storage Solutions SA also had to accommodate for the warehouse’s extreme stock turnover rate by arranging the warehouse into a format that ensures maximum operational efficiencies. “Extensive best practice know-how, an in-depth understanding of a customer’s business and a long-term partnership with this particular client’s warehousing divisions really helped us ensure product quality and faster delivery,” says Albrecht.

“Because we guarantee our racking and shelving installations for life, which totals roughly 25 years, we completely dismantled and discarded the facility’s old racking, which had been there for the last eight years and was nearing its useful lifespan. Our client opted for a complete turnkey solution from APC, so even the older forklifts were replaced with our Artix® brand,” Albrecht says.

The Artix® articulated forklifts supplied are designed for cold storage environments: They feature sealed wiring and connections, which practically eliminates the risk of condensation from forming inside the electronics when a forklift exits the cold-room. Special oils and greases also improve performance in freezing environments.

APC Storage Solutions SA has also been contracted to provide forklift maintenance for the next five years. “We implement what we call reliability-centred maintenance on our forklifts, which helps our customers guarantee their uptime by performing preventative maintenance on an on-going basis,” concluded Albrecht.

APC Storage Solutions SA, though its dedicated material handing division, IHS Forklifts, offers a range of warehouse forklifts to handle any application and includes extensive service plans and workmanship guarantees.

APC Storage Solutions SA offers world-class service in Gauteng and throughout South Africa, including Cape Town, Durban, Pretoria and Johannesburg. Services are also available throughout the African continent.