MATERIALS HANDLING: Mobile Racking Is Key
Recent Western Cape Business News
WHY should a company like Orion Cold Storage want to install mobile racking? It’s expensive at more than two times the price of fixed racking .
It requires more attention to the design of the cold store floor so as to spread the point loads which come down through the rails. It is not as simple to use as fixed racking, requires additional training for operators and regular maintenance. So why don’t cold stores just stick to fixed racking?
James Cunningham director of Barpro Storage says in the bad old days, South African cold stores simply block stacked product in their rooms. When this became problematic fixed racking was the ‘cheap’ alternative as it gave immediate accessibility to every pallet position. But the need for forklift access meant that 50% of the cold store volume could not be used for storage. As such space is both expensive to create and increasingly expensive to run at the correct temperatures, it is critical that as many pallets as possible can be stored in an accessible way. “Mobile racking is the answer to that problem. If you take the total capital cost of a cold store and divide it by the number of pallets that can be practically stored inside, the cost per pallet position for mobile racking will nearly always be cheaper than for fixed racking,” Cunningham says.
The argument that mobiles are only suitable for the storage of slow moving palletised stock is also outdated as British cold stores now combine mezzanine picking floors with mobiles so as to both store and pick stock on the same premises.
“When it comes to running costs, the largest one in a cold store is labour. With a real time warehouse management system, a 5000 pallet store with mobiles can be run effectively with very few people. Electrically, mobiles save power by only switching on lights in the open aisles. By doubling the capacity of a cold store, the energy cost per pallet is effectively halved. Certainly, mobile bases need electricity to move, but the motors are geared so that a mobile base with 360 tons of product can be moved at less cost than it takes to boil most domestic kettles.”
“Understanding the need for energy efficiency, the Orion Cold Storage facility has been designed to keep energy costs to a minimum for the life of the store. Features include energy efficient lights, superior dock seals, special cold room access doors, variable speed compressor motors as well as mobile racking. If South African cold stores could bench mark their energy usage as their Australian counterparts are about to do, there is little doubt that Orion Cold Store would be the one to beat,” Cunningham says.
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