Storing and handling chilled and frozen food is a challenging business. It requires a mix of special skills and experience to retain value for the owners and keep the goods fresh for consumers.
When Oxford Cold Storage commissioned a new 15,000 pallet cold store facility for George Weston Foods, it presented considerable challenges. The main issues revolved around the merger and acquisition of two smallgoods companies and the integration of their additional products.
“Without really knowing the number of SKU’s, we had to somehow configure the space in the most efficient manner, optimising it for current storage and distribution needs but building in provision for potential changes” said Paul Fleiszig, Director of Oxford Cold Storage.
Compounding the challenge, Oxford Cold Storage needed to fast track construction to meet a tight deadline. To manage the risks involved, they produced detailed specifications and invited a select group of prospective tenderers to a round table briefing. The aim was to focus on any unresolved issues and give all interested parties an opportunity to respond with solutions.
Dematic was well aware of Oxford Cold Storage’s history of growth and innovation in the industry. They were an experienced and savvy company who knew what they wanted. To win the tender meant Dematic would need to think ‘out of the box’.
“Dematic came back to us with some really innovative solutions. We worked through Dematic’s ideas and we’ve come up with something we think is really good,” said Fleitzig.
The George Weston Foods distribution centre comprises a freezer room and a chiller. It is customised to deal with a relatively large number of SKU’s. The freezer is used primarily for reserve storage and is fitted out with double deep rack to provide an ideal combination of space utilisation and easy access to all stock. The chiller operation required a high level of picking so a configuration involving 2 deep 2 high pallet live storage was implemented. This enabled the separation of picking and replenishment aisles and provided a safer working space for both pickers and forklift operators.
Dematic recognised that there were several areas where smarter thinking could give Oxford Cold Storage a better solution including adapting its standard product to meet customer needs. Space optimisation and better OH&S were the key target areas for improvement.
The first key innovation, which represented a significant saving to Oxford Cold Storage, was the precise positioning of beam levels to optimise both pallet clearance and use of headroom. The second was a change in depth of the pallet live storage lanes which had two very specific advantages. New tracks mounted flush with the front and back beams of the racks meant that pallet-overhang and catch points were eliminated. This led to a safer and more productive working environment.