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29 March 2006

A new gravity fed live storage order fulfilment system supplied to Yuasa Automotive Batteries Europe Ltd by The Live Storage Company has increased pick rates by reducing travel distances and eliminated congestion and delays for order pickers and replenishers. The new system, which incorporates modular Span Track full-width flow track units, has also improved ergonomics because items are fed automatically to the pick face which means personnel no longer need to reach or bend beneath pallet racking to retrieve products. The installation was completed by The Live Storage Company in just one day to minimise warehouse disruption.

"The anticipated efficiency gains will mean a very quick return on investment," says Martin Le-Roy, Plant Manager for Yuasa Automotive Batteries Europe Ltd. "We are very pleased with the way this project was implemented and we intend to further strengthen our distribution systems at other sites."

Yuasa is one of the world's largest battery manufacturers. Through its continuous improvement process the company focussed on the existing warehousing operation. Personnel were travelling up and down aisles of pallet racking on forklift trucks picking batteries from ground level locations to fulfil orders. The company recognised that pick rates could be improved by reducing the travel distances between stock locations. Order picking and stock replenishment occurred in the same aisle which often resulted in congestion and further delays. Yuasa chose The Live Storage Company to introduce a gravity fed live storage system into the distribution centre.

"I contacted The Live Storage Company because I knew I could rely on them to provide the right solutions," says Richard Fernley of Richard Fernley Associates, logistic consultants retained by Yuasa. "Handling automotive batteries with the inherent weight and hazardous substances involved requires some creative thinking. The Live Storage Company delivered the right design and service levels which were needed and the installation was completed with the minimum of disruption."

The new system has 800 storage lanes split into two runs. Operatives can now access the majority of order lines within 30 metres. The new layout provides one central picking aisle and two separate replenishment aisles to the rear of the live storage racks. The Live Storage Company was able to complete the installation in just one day, minimising disruption in the warehouse, by using the recently introduced Span-Track system.

Pick rates have improved dramatically because travel distances have been reduced. Congestion and delays between order pickers and replenishers has been eliminated. Ergonomics have been improved because the product is automatically fed to the pick face which means personnel no longer have to reach or bend beneath pallet racking to retrieve product. First-in/first-out stock rotation ensures the oldest product is always picked first.

Span Track is designed to take the abuse of busy warehouses and assembly plants. Full-width rollers ensure total support for items with up to 300 per cent more product contact than traditional plastic wheel tracking while snagging is reduced to maintain throughput and increase overall picking productivity. Each unit is manufactured using tempered aluminium rollers with full-length axles mounted on durable galvanised steel side channels. The units are mounted on a pallet rack framework. Span Track can be installed in about one third of the time taken to fit traditional live storage beds. The strong and durable design promotes life-long reliability and reduces maintenance and ongoing replacement costs.

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