In an ever changing economic landscape executives are coming under more and more pressure to find new ways to grow their business without taking the kind of massive risks that were seen before the recession. The phrase “in the current economic climate” is repeated ad nauseam by almost every executive as a shorthand justification as to why they are making a decision to cut investment, lay off staff or generally taking another similarly unpopular business decision.

Recently we have seen executives taking more positive approaches to aid growth; traditional approaches that we could perhaps call ‘smart spending’. They are taking a close look at expenditures and trying to find ways to allocate and prioritise their budget into operations that will have the most direct benefit in helping the company grow. They are beginning to look long-term again and not just seek the quick fix to keep the company going.

This approach has brought people back to looking at the unexploited assets within the company that could be used to aid further growth in addition to looking for those opportunities that would provide extra efficiency gains.

With companies going back to more traditional approaches to growth the tendency is for people to seek out traditional solutions. For example everyone knows the basic principle that in order to grow a business you will need more space – space to improve operations, be that for efficiency gains, improving storage levels or just to create more space for production.

The traditional approach is to use pallet racking and static shelving to streamline storage with various techniques being used in combination to impact other areas of the business.

However more and more executives are beginning to look to a more modern and efficient method of storage called ‘automated storage and retrieval systems’.

Automated storage is very much one of those ‘why didn’t I think of that before?’ solutions. The benefits afforded in terms of space saving, workforce optimisation, order picking speed and accuracy as well as stock management and security are so universal that it makes automated storage one of the most flexible and cost effective solutions available cross-industry.

Companies across all sectors ranging from oil & gas, to pharmaceutical, to automotive and public sector are approaching companies like Industore – the leading supplier of Hänel Automated Storage in the UK and Ireland – in order to find out more about the benefits of automated storage and how it could make a significant impact in their workplace.

One such company approached Industore at the end of last year. Allaero is one of the UK’s leading aerospace parts suppliers. Established in 1988, Allaero offers extensive 24hr aircraft support and international shipping from its London Gatwick facility. Their vast component exchange pool is stored onsite in state-of-the-art, hi-tech warehousing.

Historically most of Allaero’s available floor space was taken up with traditional pallet racking, requiring wide aisles for fork truck access, and static shelving. This conventional static shelving, although cost effective, had a number of problems. Firstly the bottom and top shelves were virtually unusable due to health and safety issues regarding weight limitations for stooping and reaching. Secondly although the pallet racking ‘did a job’ it was a very inefficient use of space considering the amount of vertical space in the warehouse. And with most of the available floor space taken up by racking they were faced with the option of either undertaking a costly re-location to a larger facility or seeking an alternative storage solution.

Allaero did not want to move to another building, but more stock was arriving each day and the situation was becoming more and more critical. In addition, with their products coming in many different shapes and sizes, they needed a flexible, efficient approach with any new solution. So they approached automated storage supplier Industore to explore the benefits they could expect from their market-leading Hänel Lean-Lifts.

Firstly Industore carried out a detailed site survey of Allaero’s stores operation, looking at how goods were stored and handled. They found that Allaero’s stores were organised and run with the maximum level of efficiency attainable with conventional static racks and shelves. However they also concluded that Allaero’s operations could be significantly improved with the implementation of Hänel Lean-Lifts. Allaero commissioned the installation of two Lean-Lifts. These two lifts increased Allaero’s picking and replenishment efficiency, freed up valuable floor space by eliminating no longer required, floor space eating access aisles, and allowed additional stock to be stored within their current stores area. All these factors dramatically aided Allaero’s operations and facilitated their continuing expansion without the need for huge financial outlay.

Commenting on the benefits of their new automated storage systems, Justin Greasley, Managing Director of Allaero said: “We learned about the Hänel Lean-Lifts via the Industore website and invited them in to give advice on the best way to store our products. With their ability to store goods, tightly packed together and without damage or loss of space made, Industore made the choice easy. We installed two machines – on time and within budget – and immediately released two stock rooms of free space. The benefits were obvious and we placed another order for a further two machines. With the commissioning of the second pair of Lean-Lifts we have been able to dispose of our original 2m racking and double our 10500sq ft floor space.”

“Locating stock and picking orders is now much easier. The stock is in a closed and stable temperature environment and we have been able to double our stock holding without having to re-locate the business. Furthermore step ladders are now no longer required and our use of forklift trucks is minimal, our warehouse is now a much safer place in which to work.”

Allaero are just one of a glut of automated success stories from companies who have taken the time to think about their growth properly and put building blocks in place to secure the long-term futures of their respective organisations.

There will always be a place for more traditional approaches to storage; however what operations ‘in the current economic climate’ have shown is that innovation and forward thinking are going to make the difference to business. In order to grow it is no longer an option to just keep plodding along as we have always done, it is now a necessity that companies look forward and begin to address their challenges with proven solutions.

This article was written by Iain Gethin – Group Marketing Executive at Industore.


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