Improving productivity with a 41% increase in covered storage capacity and enabling a lean inventory flow.
Ridgeons’ Forrest Products, part of the family-owned Ridgeons Group has been a long-time client and their purpose built 12 are site in Herringswell, Suffolk is the central sawmill and distribution hub for a wide range of timber products. As well as storing and dispatching a high volume of raw timber products, the hub offers a number of timber services such as cutting, bespoke machining and fire-retardant treatment.
The client was running two large sites, offering similar services and duplicating stockholding, which was costing a considerable amount of money. Outdoor space at the Herringswell site was being utilised as yard storage, with product sitting directly on the floor making it difficult to move and at risk of swelling from ground water.
The existing racking storage was sited at the front of the facility, requiring a large number of forklift movements to transport raw materials to the sawmill for processing and returning them to racking for distribution. In addition to this, while the existing racking was still robust with many years of use remaining, the client needed to accommodate for increasing pack sizes and weights and larger machinery than had been in use when the racking was first installed.
Space Productiv assessed the inventory and operations flow of the site and devised a storage solution that would protect their product, increase storage capacity and reduce the number of forklift movements throughout each day, enabling large-scale productivity savings on site in addition to allowing for the consolidation of the two sites into one, highly productive, central distribution and operations hub.
After an initial phase involving the manufacture and installation of 72 frames of cantilever storage, Space Productiv approached the project in a further three waves, enabling work to continue as work was done and working alongside the construction needed to prepare the groundwork. Over the next three phases of work, a further 272 frames of canopied cantilever racking were installed. The covered warehouse storage is 7.2m high and provided four levels of storage with a capacity at each arm level of 1.2 tonnes.
Space Productiv designed a layout featuring overlapping canopies to create a fully covered storage area, offering weather protection to the timber while still allowing for the timber inventory to breathe.
The canopies offered weather protection to the staff during movements, considerably improving working conditions, but preserved the flexibility of separate aisles of racking that could be relocated or adjusted in line with changes to the business as needed in the future.
By providing a covered outdoor pop-up warehousing solution rather than an enclosed warehouse, Space Productiv were able to offer both the required protection and the flexibility the client needed to maximise return on investment and save cost in the project as the solution allowed for less groundwork preparation as building foundations were not required and the solution could be designed to accommodate areas where the ground may not be completely level.
The overlapping canopies allowed for keeping each run separate while offering protection to the staff from rain. Keeping the frame runs separate meant that they are able to easily move sections of framing to adjust for alterations to working, stock holding or flow.
Reorganising the raw material storage at the rear of the facility enabled the delivery of raw materials directly to the sawmill which vastly reduced the number of forklift movements on site on a daily basis.
By creating a lean inventory flow, moving product in a single line process from delivery, through processing. and into storage at the front of the site for dispatch increased the productivity of the site by reducing labour time lost to movements and making staff available for other tasks. It also eliminated the need for loading and unloading simultaneously in the same area which minimised health and safety risk from crossing forklifts.
Racking installed by Space Productiv over twenty years ago and still in good condition was repurposed into other areas of the site and the galvanised solution that was provided for the new project have a life up-to three times longer than a standard painted racking product, providing savings on replacement costs well into the future for the business.
The project provided a 41% increase in covered storage area on site and increased the overall storage capacity by 24%. This meant that Ridgeons was able to consolidate operations from two sites into a single site, saving them over half a million pounds per year and allowing them to eliminate duplication of stock holding and to streamline their supply chain management for further productivity savings.
It is estimated that the investment will have paid for itself via productivity gains and lowered operational costs within two years, offering millions in future savings to the client over the lifetime of the solution.
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