Home' MHD Supply Chain Solutions : MHD Nov-Dec 2014 Contents 32
Setting up a new distribution centre (DC)
or upgrading an existing one is a complex
task and requires astute project manage-
ment to ensure minimal stress, lost time and cost.
This article covers the top twelve issues
encountered in DC projects that cause conten-
tion, stress, cost blow outs, delays and embar-
rassment during implementation. Under each
heading, checkpoints are listed so that you can
'tick off' for your own project.
1. Materials handling
The design process is complex and requires a
multifunctional team to address the following:
• Storage quantities.
• Volumes received, put away, picked, packed,
dispatched and returned.
• Flow of materials.
• Technologies to be used, e.g. low-tech,
medium tech, high-tech.
• Automation, e.g. zero automation, medium
automation, high automation.
• Functions, value-adding activities, proximities,
• Mechanical handling equipment layout and
• Building and land size.
• Internal and external activities.
• Special uses, e.g. air conditioning, cool / cold
rooms, dangerous goods rooms, safes, forklift
charging zones, types of docks, etc.
• Site traffic and load/ unload scheduling.
• Fire systems.
• Security systems.
• Offices and amenities.
• Dock design.
2. Static equipment
Static equipment refers to storage racking
and binning, fixtures, and mezzanines used to
Things to take into account are:
• Pallet capacity? Note that if you plan to store
80, design for 100.
• Loading: what is the pallet and shelf (weight)
capacity required for the installation?
• Racking beam levels: what is the planned
height of the pallet, and is there enough
clearance between beams to allow for opera-
tors to safely place stock?
• What is the operating environment? Inside,
outside, moist, or corrosive? The racking will
need to be finished to suit.
• Floor: can the concrete floor accept the
uniformly distributed load and point loads
exerted by racking uprights. Is the floor flat,
or will it require packing to make sure that all
• Aisles: are operating aisles wide enough to
allow for free and spacious movement of
mobile equipment? Make sure that, when
specifying aisle sizes, you plan for pal-
let-to-pallet clearance, and not rack-to-rack.
This is because the standard Australian pallets
are designed to overlap pallet racking beams
with the bottom board by approx. 165mm.
• Safety: is the racking suitably braced, and
will the supplier add signage indicating
• Does the installer have the same set of
drawings (or revision) as the designer? Don't
laugh - you will save yourself lots of time if
• When the racking is being installed, will the
area be free of stock or debris? (If not, you
will need to allow more time for installation.)
• Fire systems: is there an early suppression,
fast-response system installed in the roof, or
will sprinklers be required within racking?
• Lighting: are lights positioned over aisles to
aid operators during operation?
• Operator training in basic maintenance and
safe operating procedures.
3. Mobile equipment
Mobile equipment refers to equipment that is
driven by an operator, or guided by automatic
This is a complex area, and it's important that
the right types of equipment are specified and
selected for a DC. Typical equipment to choose
from includes counterbalanced forklifts, reach
trucks, order picker machines, turret trucks,
articulated reach trucks, pallet trucks, automatic
guided vehicles, automatic storage and retrieval
machines, satellite systems, and more.
Design and implementation of equipment
should include a review of:
• Load to be handled: mass, width, depth, and
• Environment in which the machine is operat-
ing, e.g. ambient, low temperature, freezing,
corrosive, wet, flammable, etc.
• Ability of equipment to comfortably work
within specified aisle widths.
• Hours of operation and what type of batteries
THE 12 MOST PROMINENT
The design process
for materials handling
equipment is complex.
MHD SUPPLY CHAIN SOLUTIONS --- NOVEMBER / DECEMBER 2014
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