Following the installation of Reece’s Perth Distribution Centre (DC) at the end of 2015, Safer Storage Systems quickly moved on to works for the Sydney DC. The custom built 20,000 square metre warehouse required a complete storage solution – one that met requirements for storage density and operational efficiency, as well as the business’s exceptionally high safety standards.
A complete warehouse solution
With over 450 stores across Australia, Reece Group supplies a wide variety of products, requiring large capacity storage facilities. Safer Storage Systems was employed to provide a complete storage solution for the new Reece Sydney DC, from the initial design phase right though to installation, incorporating full safety compliance, safe work load signage and rack protection.
As Reece’s product range is so diverse, there is considerable variation in stock profiles and the types of pallets stored, including Australian standard pallets, Euro pallets, and skids or non-standard pallets. Each of these variants needed to be considered, along with adding flexibility for future business growth.
Three different storage systems were installed to meet the uique requirements of the large DC – selective pallet racking, a pallet shuttle system, and heavy-duty cantilever racking.
1. Selective pallet racking
This configuration of selective pallet racking was customised to meet Reece’s operational, safety and compliance requirements.
The bay elevations were designed to suit the business’s specific stock profiles and movements. This included the installation of longspan shelf levels (created with step beams and mesh decks) at lower levels for manual picking/hand-packed smaller items, with beam levels above picking height designed for the storage of full pallets used for replenishing the picking levels below as required.
A solution was also required to accommodate the storage of non-standard and EU pallets, which are flat underneath and do not lock on to the beams as standard Australian pallets do. To prevent these from being pushed off the back beam and between the racking, causing damage to products below or injuring warehouse staff, full-depth storage levels were installed with mesh decks spanning the middle of the racking on levels just above picking height. This was combined with pallet stop beams at the rear of these storage levels.
As an added safety precaution, lock screws were used in place of safety clips to connect beams to frames. Due to their larger diameter, lock screws are proven to perform better in the event that beams are subject to shear forces.
2. Mecalux pallet shuttle system
The Mecalux pallet shuttle system offers a similar capacity to that of drive-in racking, yet with more functionality, safety features and much greater selectivity.
This was the ideal solution to meet Reece’s need to store large volumes of multiple SKUs and various stock profiles without sacrificing operational efficiency.
With fast and accurate electric carts to position and extract pallets from the system, forklifts are never required to enter the racking. This, along with a number of the Shuttle’s smart safety features, minimises any chance of incidents or impacts from forklifts – all while increasing load/unload times. The shuttle not only reinforces Reece’s high safety standards, it helps to lower operational costs.
The semi-automated warehouse system also offers Reece flexibility should its storage needs change or grow. The Mecalux pallet shuttle accommodates three different pallet sizes, can be switched between LIFO and FIFO storage methods, and allows for further storage levels to be added later should the business require an even greater pallet capacity.
3. Cantilever racking
Reece stocks a large number of longer items that can take up considerable space if stored on the floor, and limited selectivity if block stacked. A cantilever system provides a good solution for these long or irregularly shaped products.
This cantilever system, installed at the Reece Sydney DC, is heavier duty and taller than what is usually seen in this type of application, which better utilises the height of the warehouse.
Safer Storage Systems also installed mesh decks across the cantilever arms to evenly distribute load across each storage level. This allows for the placement of items anywhere along the mesh, and not just evenly across two or more beams.
In this case, the cantilever system acts more like selective pallet racking without a front upright, for higher density storage and greater selectivity.
As there are no current Australian Standards for cantilever racking, European Standards were consulted to ensure that the structure was engineered to the highest possible safety standards.
Exceeding Australian safety standards
Reece employs, and in many cases exceeds, WorkSafe standards across all its sites. Safety features installed at the Reece Sydney DC include:
• Safe working load signs for each bay of racking.
• Rack protection, including front and rear guards to each upright, pallet stop beams and rack end protection.
• An M16 stud anchor installed to the front of each baseplate in addition to two standard 12ml bolts in the rear. This is an extra safeguard against sheering caused from impact damage.
• 240 lineal metres of handrails with kick-plates to prevent forklifts from protruding into pedestrian walkways.
The success of a large project such as the Reece Sydney DC starts with a comprehensive understanding of the customer’s storage needs, and day-to-day warehouse processes. Safer Storage Systems also ensured adequate time was spent in the storage layout and design phase to give Reece a completely customised solution, which best optimises the space for maximum storage and selectivity, while allowing flexibility for future business growth.