Consolidation Without Expansion
In May 2013, ELITE Supply Chain Solutions completed a tall order, both literally and figuratively. A National Chain Auto Parts distributor had made the decision to close a distribution center and consolidate the business into an existing Portland, Oregon, DC. This additional inventory would service 120 stores. However, though they were bringing a breadth of inventory into an existing facility, the customer did not want to expand the building. It was also absolutely imperative to the customer that they be able to continue to do business out of both facilities during the consolidation.
ELITE President Scott Hennie, who had a solid working relationship with the customer already, had to develop a solution that would meet both complex demands. He proposed expanding an existing shelving platform and re-locating existing shelving from the main floor of the DC to the platform. In place of the now re-located shelving, he suggested constructing new pallet rack, flow rack and push-back rack to handle the additional depth of inventory.
In addition to storage, ELITE also updated and expanded the existing conveyor system to handle the added business volume that would be coming in from the consolidated location. To do this, ELITE used a combination of new equipment and used equipment transferred from the closed facility. This expansion required a carefully planned and executed system of three “cut-over weekends” where conveyor was transferred from the existing facility to the new design. These cut-overs allowed the operation to stay in business and not miss a single day of shipping.
To pull off a project this size required extensive planning. Hennie began the initial design and planning in January of 2013 and installation was completed in May. Using a variety of suppliers and consultants (SSI-Steele Solutions platforms, Teilhaber Manufacturing pallet rack, Hytrol conveyor, Control Electric Co. controls) Hennie was able to coordinate the logistics of executing the $1.2 million project around an operating business.
Along with providing equipment and services, ELITE coordinated and managed the permit process – no easy task in Portland, Oregon. One of the biggest hurdles was complying with environmental codes, which required the client to add an additional 57 trees to their lot.
“To be successful, we listened to the customer’s end goals and objectives and focused on solving those in the most efficient way possible,” says Hennie. “It was about problem-solving, not trying to sell the most product.”