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Turning thin air into a lot more storage space.

Since business forms supplier Wallace Co. built its 170,000 sq ft master distribution center a few years ago, its business has changed.

One of the most dramatic developments has been an explosion of stock keeping units. When the company moved to the St. Charles, Ill. facility, it had 15,000 SKUs. Today that number is up to 26,000.

"We had to get more storage space," says industrial engineer Paul Morris.

Today, Wallace has two equally sized mezzanines, one above the other in a corner of the distribution center. Over 2,500 units of industrial shelving (Penco Products 610-666-0500) occupy the 30,000 sq ft of new found space.

The shelving is arranged in clusters of seven and nine units. Each unit has six shelves measuring 36 in. wide and 18 in. deep. Every shelf is divided in half to store two different SKUs with bar codes identifying the locations.

To manage stocking and picking, Wallace uses an inventory management system that runs on an AS/400. The system tracks inventory by quantity and time in the warehouse. In addition, it arranges orderpicking in sequence that minimizes travel in the distribution center and on the mezzanine.

The shelving is arranged to maximize worker accessibility to inventory with 30 in. aisles bordering the central conveyor system. The open, flangeless design of the shelves also improves inventory accessibility, saving wasted motion and time in orderpicking.

In addition to meeting current inventory needs, the shelving is sufficiently flexible to accommodate future changes in SKUs. Maximum load capacity is 500 lb per shelf which can be easily rearranged to store taller or shorter SKUs.

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Publication:Modern Materials Handling
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:May 31, 1999
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