PK USA expands on-shoring operation with “stackable” storage containers
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After expanding operations eight times to meet customer demand since 1989, PK USA is expanding again as its customers add new vehicles in the U.S. that had previously been assembled overseas.
But to continue growth PK USA, a primary supplier of metal body, chassis, and plastic injection parts for domestic and international automotive companies, had to optimize its operations.
The parts supplier, which stores up to 1,000 stamped parts and components between its stamping and assembly processes, had been using eight different types of containers for storage in existing warehousing. But this arrangement was not sustainable with continued production growth.
“Many of our storage containers used space inefficiently, had weight and stacking limitations, and required frequent replacement because they broke down in our environment,” said Dan Sizemore, a senior engineer at PK USA’s Shelbyville, Indiana facility. “If we hadn’t sought new custom containers, we would have had to expand our warehouse to meet the demands of continued growth.”
According to Sizemore, for instance, a new product needing parts storage between die set ups was not stackable with wood pallets or wood containers, and required considerable storage space. Among the variety of storage containers, the material handling capability was also less than flexible, and their tracking and inventorying needed improvement as well.
After reviewing PK USA’s current storage situation, Sizemore noted that one design of existing wire mesh container originally made over 20 years ago by Steel King, an industrial storage rack and pallet rack manufacturer, was still functioning well and had several decades of use left in it.
Sizemore recommended the continued use of the wire mesh container, plus adding a few new custom containers, including some with corrugated sheet metal walls, that would be fully stackable and accessible from all sides. This would consolidate storage from about eight container types to about four custom container types optimized to store and stack efficiently in existing warehouse space, while expediting material handling.
“All in all, the enhanced material handling brought about by Steel King’s custom racks and containers have reduced part damage, as well as protected them more securely,” said Sizemore.
He added that because they are “stackable,” this has minimized the need for warehouse shelving.
“We did not have to purchase any type of shelving system, since we were able to stack the containers on themselves,” said Sizemore.
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