For many food manufacturing facilities, the loading dock and warehouse can be busy areas. With employees passing through, forklifts and hand pallet trucks moving about, and conveyor systems and storage racks fixed to the ground, space is often a premium in these areas.
But while loading docks and warehouses are often landlocked, they don’t have to be, as the answer to additional space can frequently be found by looking up. Vertical reciprocating conveyors (VRCs) and work platforms offer food manufacturers a new level of storage space by going up and adding a second level. These options are not only a cost effective solution to gaining new storage space, but provide food manufacturers the flexibility to adapt to their changing needs.
Evaluating your needs
When evaluating your storage needs, there are some things you should first consider. For starters, how is the product flow from the time materials are offloaded from a truck to the time they enter production? Do materials generally accumulate faster in the loading dock/warehouse area than when they enter production, or do materials quickly enter production and spend little time in storage? Are pallets or cases being broken down right on the dock, or are they being stored in a separate area to be processed at a later time? The same material-flow dynamic works in reverse for post-production. Does the final product remain in storage for a while before being shipped, or does it leave the facility immediately after manufacturing?
Some practices may involve offloading materials from a truck and simply mix-matching pallets, cases and boxes on a floor for processing at a later time. Even though it may take just a short period to finish unloading the truck, this lack of organization is inefficient and wastes employees’ time by having them hunt through pallets looking for specific items. With adequate storage space available, workers can properly stage in-process materials, as well as ship out finished goods, in a more controlled, proficient manner.
A thorough evaluation of the way you ship and receive materials, along with your loading dock and warehouse will ultimately lead you to determine if you have enough space to consistently and effectively handle incoming and outgoing product. If the answer is that additional storage capacity is needed, a VRC and work platform can be the solution.
As companies grow, evolve and expand their offerings, so do their storage needs. If additional space is warranted, companies have two main options to choose from: expand their current operations by building a larger warehouse or maximize their existing space. The cost-effective solution is to maximize existing space, and in many instances that can be achieved by going up with a VRC and work platform.