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Couzens Storage Solutions has completed an extensive warehouse upgrade for automotive aftermarket parts supplier KM Products, saving 70 pallet spaces, boosting pick efficiency and providing additional capacity for growth

Centred on three Couzens Modula storage and retrieval lifts, the project makes maximum use of a limited footprint and 9m high headroom for holding a comprehensive range of industrial engine spares.

Client KM Products Europe is a global supplier and distributor of engine parts for Caterpillar, Komatsu, Cummins, Detroit and Navistar International. Storing items as diverse in size, weight and shape as crankshafts, bearings, belts, cylinder heads, piston rings, gaskets, pumps, fans, filters, cooler and hydraulic components – with fast, efficient picking essential to customer service – presents a constant challenge.

“We needed to take fresh look at our operations to improve storage efficiency to meet increasing demand,” comments operations manager Alan Gerrard. “Couzens helped us find the best solution then managed the entire installation with minimum fuss and disruption. We have already saved 70 pallet spaces, can pick more quickly and have a modern, efficient distribution centre ready for increased demand for our services.”

The dilemma for KM Products was that a large number of pallets were only a quarter or half full and even using beams at different levels, a significant amount of space was wasted. The first Modula installed in 2011 eased the pressure by storing cartons and other small items previously held on pallets.

As space was limited, the Couzens installation team dismantled a goods hoist and modified a mezzanine to make room for the Modula. Other works included taking down and reassembling a single bay of pallet racking and reducing the size of the canteen to allow for maintenance access around the mezzanine columns. Following the success of the first unit KM Products decided to install a further two machines in an adjacent warehouse where additional headroom allowed for 8.9m high Modulas, further increasing pallet storage capacity. Couzens’ installation team temporarily dismantled a mezzanine to create room for the machines and provide a working area to assemble and install both units. They supplied and installed an electrical distribution board, power supply and isolators then reassembled the mezzanine and reconnected all services.

Automated storage/retrieval

Modula is an automated storage and retrieval system with a series of vertically stacked trays to make maximum use of floor space. A centrally-mounted extractor mechanism travels up and down to locate the required tray and present it for picking at a comfortable and safe height. Using the PLC control system the operator can identify and call up any stored item in seconds. Features including tray dividers and automated load height selection ensure the maximum use of available space, consistent with fast pick operations.

All three Modulas are fitted with slotted trays for easily adjustable dividers and a capacity of 750kg per tray. Most trays are fitted with sidewall extensions to ensure cartons are held securely in place.  The first unit delivered is 8.3m high with 41, 1.9m x 857mm trays, giving a total capacity of 31,000kg and 66m2 of storage. The recently installed units are 8.9m high and have tray widths of 3.1m and 4.1m respectively, both 654mm deep and with 84 trays each deliver a combined capacity of 126,000kg on a footprint including the access aisle of only 28.6m2. Located side by side, adjacent control consoles allow one operative to pick from both machines at the same time, further adding to staff productivity. All three units are linked to KM Products’ in house inventory management system with terminals in both warehouse locations.

Scope for increased demand

“Freeing up space for another 70 pallets has given us enormous scope to handle increased demand within the same premises,” concludes Gerrard. “Now that we store a lot of our stock in cartons we do not need fork trucks for every pick, which saves a lot of time and cost. We can carry out stocktakes more quickly and accurately; in the past we had to count smaller items such as ring sets and piston pins stored in cages. Now with them neatly stored in trays the whole job is a lot easier. From the outset Couzens listened carefully to what we were trying to achieve and gave us alternative solutions which did much of the work for us. Their team bent over backward to help us and carried out the works and installations around a fully functioning warehouse with minimum disruption. As a supplier they ticked all the boxes and we can thoroughly recommend them.”


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