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A place for everything and everything in its place: for the right items, drawers offer advantages over shelves.

Storing small or irregularly-shaped items, such as cutting tools or toolholders, can be a challenge. While shelves may seem an obvious answer, they are not an optimal solution for a shop or contract manufacturer. If the item isn't about the size and shape of a shoebox, shelving can be tough. Add to the mix the human penchant for putting things in the front of a shelf, rather than prioritizing items from front to back, and there's the potential for a mess.


Two companies found themselves in such a quandary. They had plenty of space, but were running out of storage.

Corporate Jet Support--CJS--of Moonachie, NJ, is a wholesale supplier of Gulfstream aircraft parts. Paradoxically, the company's success was causing problems in its storage facility.

"We ran out of room," Chris Breitweiser, CJS owner, said. "We had grown out of our existing storage space and were forced into either moving or expanding our warehouse."

When Even Too Much Is Not Enough

The problem was not one of insufficient storage space--the available 10,000[ft.sup.2] facility was more than adequate, the storage system was not making the best use of the available space. CJS relied on conventional shelving and pallets to store its range of aircraft parts that have a large churn.

Shelving was fine for big, bulky, regularly-shaped items. Irregularly-shaped boxes, or items with irregular surfaces, couldn't be stacked. Cubic space was wasted and items along the front edge of the shelf hid and inhibited access to items at the back of the shelf.

After consulting with Lista International Corp., Holliston, MA, CJS selected a drawer cabinet system. Drawer cabinets, according to Lista, allow storage in right-height drawers, which can be filled to the top, using available cubic space.

Qualities to look for in drawer systems include full-height sidewalls and drawers with full-extension capabilities. These features allow use of the entire three-dimensional drawer space: front-to-back, side-to-side, and top-to-bottom. Because of this, with small to irregular items, one eye-level modular drawer cabinet can hold as much as three to four sections of shelving.

CJS purchased a squadron of 250 shallow-depth HS modular drawer storage cabinets from Lista, as well as two Lista Storage Wall Systems. CJS captured 10' of vertical space by stacking two high-density HS cabinets atop each other. Lista custom-configured the HS drawer interiors using modular dividing and partitioning accessories to accommodate the items CJS would be storing, everything from small washers and valves to generators and actuators.

Use Maximization

"We were able to maximize the use of our warehouse height and maintain the flexibility to put thousands of items in a very limited area. We can now hold in one drawer what we previously were storing in three units of conventional shelving," Breitweiser said.

Drawer compartments protect the items stored within them; can precisely match stored items by height, width and depth; be bar-code labeled; and provide direct access and viewing.

Shelving bins, plastic boxes, or semi-open cardboard boxes are a traditional storage method. Plastic boxes and shelving bins can rival the cost of a drawer system. Ten or 20 boxes can equal the cost of the shelving unit itself, doubling the storage equipment costs.

Boxes and bins are also impractical for viewing and accessing the items in storage. The standard industrial shelf is 87" high, with the top one or two shelves above a standing individual's head. A ladder is needed to see what is stored in the upper shelves. Accessing the items from a ladder can be difficult or dangerous.

There are ergonomic advantages for employees working with modular drawer storage. There is no reaching high for items on upper shelves, and access to items stored near the floor is improved. When items are stored on the bottom shelf of a shelving unit, employees can find themselves on their hands and knees, reaching for items, potentially straining backs and shoulders. With full extension drawers, all items in all drawers are within reach.


Drawers also allow for easier inventorying. Some manufacturers' drawers have built-in label holders, and each compartment can be labeled.

Moving 18,000 Pieces Through the System in 30 Days

The Boston Volvo Village auto dealership also found drawers as a solution to its storage dilemma.

"In just one month, we moved more than 18,000 pieces through the drawer system," Bob Crete, operations and parts manager, said. "The process of restocking is a fraction of what it used to be. That's how to gauge the value of equipment."

Modular drawer storage cabinets protect valuable tools, parts, and other assets from environmental wear and tear. Items come out of the drawer looking as clean as when they went in. Shelved items left in the open can collect dirt, dust, and grime.

Drawer storage also provides better security. By their open nature, shelves are open and unlockable, whereas cabinets offer a range of locking options. Even within a locked storage room, additional locking systems on drawers can improve security and reduce pilferage.

The upshot of the full use of cubic space with high-density modular drawer storage is a maximized use of overall available floor space. According to Lista, one cabinet has about the same storage space as three shelf units; a switch to drawer cabinet storage can reduce needed square footage by as much as 400 percent. Lista International Corp. or Circle 206 for more information
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Title Annotation:STORAGE
Publication:Modern Applications News
Date:Jul 1, 2007
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