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High density system for fast-growing food firm

07 September 2017

Natures Way Foods installs pallet shuttle system from SEC Storage, with high density storage needed to keep up with growth.

This high-density storage solution - the first of its kind from SEC Storage - was installed at Natures Way Foods recently constructed, dry stores packaging facility, based at the company’s food production park in Chichester, Sussex.

Significant levels of growth over the last few year’s coupled with the demand for production of up to 1,000,000 units per day meant that Natures Way Foods were in need of a warehouse storage solution that would make full use of the cube in this new facility, whilst further optimising their operation for the logistical demands of the future.

In order to keep up with the exceptional levels of growth that we have experienced over the last few years we were in need of a solution that would allow for the highest density of storage,” explains logistics manager, Vladislavs Kokins.

We invited SEC Storage to propose a system that would maximise the capacity of our dry stores packaging facility, whilst ensuring that we were also able to increase the productivity levels of our warehouse operations team moving forward.”

Alternative storage solutions were initially considered, including a drive-in racking block and a VNA (very narrow aisle) racking installation, however, it was found that due to the costs of the materials handling equipment needed to operate a VNA installation, combined with Natures Way Foods desire to further optimise their materials handling operation that both of these systems were deemed unsuitable.

The third proposal: a semi-automated, pallet shuttle system was chosen as the preferred solution due to its capabilities to fulfil the key goals of the project. In a pallet shuttle system, the handling of goods occurs within the racking system and is carried out using a remote controlled pallet shuttle, working on either a FIFO (first-in-last-out) or LIFO (last-in-first-out) basis. The shuttle runs off of rechargeable batteries and also contains diagnosis software for troubleshooting issues; particularly effective for controlling load overhang.

A standard reach forklift truck is used to handle pallets outside of the rack, and is also used to transfer the shuttle system from one lane to another. Once the pallet has been placed upon the shuttle it is then transferred to the next available pallet position, removing the need for forklifts to access the lane directly. This setup allows drivers to commence the retrieval of the next available pallet, greatly reducing the time spent at the pick face.

The shuttle structure we designed and installed at Natures Way Foods comprises of 21 no. lanes over a 2,500 sq/ft area, housing a maximum capacity of 5 no. pallets in both depth and height, allowing for the storage of 555 no. pallets total.

Vladislavs Kokins adds: “The resulting solution from SEC Storage has allowed us to optimise our operation in three key ways: reducing operational costs; increasing the productivity levels of our warehouse team, and maximising the overall warehouse footprint. All essential goals of the project.”

This solution represents SEC Storage’s high level of detail and discussion they build into their warehouse appraisal and design process in order to find the best solutions for its clients’ materials handling operations.

Key Points

  • 555 no. positions were created in the 2,500 sq/ft shuttle area, with 21 no. lanes comprising of 5 no. pallets in both height and depth

  • SEC Storage explored various high-density solutions with their client, including VNA and drive-in racking systems, however due to high MHE costs it was agreed that a pallet shuttle system would offer the best return on investment

  • This is the first pallet shuttle system that SEC Storage has designed & installed​