Industrial suppliers and consumer businesses alike face increasing pressure to achieve reliable, flexible deliveries and full product availability, driving them to adopt more sophisticated storage systems and pushing storage providers to new heights.

As a result the storage providers are moving on from their foundations of supplying racking and shelving and seeing increasing levels of automation, but you still can’t neglect the human factor.

Dexion, the leading player in the UK racking and shelving sector, has built its reputation on providing a one-stop service for clients across Europe and beyond, from simple shelving systems to custom-designed warehouse solutions, dynamic, automated storage and retrieval systems.

Dexion recently invested in a million pound-plus reconstruction and redesign at its Swindon premises, which doubles as the company’s UK and Ireland distribution centre. Dexion is a prominent member of Gonvarri Material Handling (GMH), a family of brands which can trace its origins back to 1856. To bring the story up to date, in 2018, Gonvarri Steel Services acquired the Constructor Group, comprising Dexion, Constructor and Kasten and Gonvarri Material Handling was formed to become the new group parent.

Maidenhead-based AR Racking is the UK branch of Spanish-owned AR Racking, who recently worked with logistics engineering company ULMA Handling Systems to install the highest clad rack warehouse in Argentina for SINTEPLAST, the country’s leading paints and coatings company. The installation’s total surface is 65 m long by 46 m wide and has 10 corridors with racks to a height of 38 m.

Together with the storage system designed and installed by AR Racking, ULMA’s comprehensive intralogistics engineering project will provide SINTEPLAST with automated reception of products, preparation of orders and dispatch. The project includes installation of a single depth clad rack warehouse and a high density miniload system. It doubles SINTEPLAST’s handling capacity to 18,400 stored pallets and increases its stock capacity to 13 million litres of paint, taking it from handling 250,000 litres per day to 500,000 litres.

As the industry becomes more high-tech, it is seeing increasing consolidation. In a recent move. BÖWE SYSTEC, one of the world’s leading suppliers of smart automation solutions, has taken a majority stake in Red Ledge, the UK-based Auto-ID specialist. Red Ledge’s barcode, RFID, voice and sensor technologies are used worldwide in post and parcel sorting centres, warehouses and production facilities.

But with all this storage automation, we can’t forget the human factor. There’s a video on the Sun’s website of a forklift driver in an unnamed warehouse, who flattens the entire warehouse after nudging a shelving unit. A moment later, the unit collapses, showering the driver and two workmates in cardboard boxes…

Forklift disasters aside, safety in the storage industry is well within reach when warehouse operators follow best practice as defined by SEMA. Established for over half a century. SEMA are committed to promoting the safe design, installation and use of storage equipment manufactured and supplied by their members. SEMA’s guidance goes from project specification, through design, manufacture, installation and follow up inspection and their SEMA system of identifying and classifying damage has been adopted across the globe. The next SEMA Safety Conference is at the National Motorcycle Museum, Birmingham on October 31st.

BILL REDMOND

Features Editor