Material Storage: A significant Waste Factor in Metal-Fabricating Plants and Machine Shops

February 22, 2016 | News

by Luc Seesing President of SMD Machinery

Originally posted here

General productivity at sheet metal fabricators and machine shops, is measured by how much input is required to get a certain output. Often “O.K-looking” numbers show up. Fair enough.

But if you look a little closer, at how much capital and space is wasted with poor material storage & retrieval, the landscape changes dramatically. Nice looking numbers turn out to be rather bad looking numbers instead.

Material storage and retrieval is one of the biggest waste factors. Most plants that I have seen (and believe me, I have seen a lot of plants) seriously struggle with storing and handling material. Sheet / plate as well as bar-stock (long-span) material.

Of course, Just In Time delivery of the material to your plant would be great. You would not even have a storage issue. But keep dreaming. Reality is different.

This is what I see all the time:

  • Skids on the floor everywhere (wasting expensive real estate)
  • Machines losing costly production hours, waiting for material
  • Dangerous situations and accidents happening every day, everywhere
  • Damaged material (costing hundreds of thousands of dollars per year)
  • Inefficient, cantilever-style material racks high up along the walls
  • Sheet material on skids instead of simply delivered de-palletised
  • Overhead cranes being occupied, moving material across buildings
  • Forklifts picking up skids 24 high up with spotters chaotically running around over other skids and pallets with expensive -stainless material
  • Work cells adjacent to storage racks get interrupted for safety reasons
  • Folks searching for material that is nowhere to be found
  • Money pouring our everywhere and nobody really cares until they do the math. I am sure you recognize all of this!

To improve productivity and safety, I like to introduce to you a great, Canadian-made, alternative:

VIDIR VLS Vertical Lift Systems.
Automatic Material Storage & Retrieval Towers

What does it do:

One 32 trays (sheet / plate material) tower (fits under 234″ ceiling) easily holds the content of 4 regular cantilever racks that each holds 6 – 8 skids of material.
With merely entering the required tray number, the VLS brings down the material (without the skid) in seconds, ready to be picked up by a forklift for delivery to a laser-cutter, plasma-cutter, router or CNC punch press.
The same for an (up to 24 ft long) bar-stock retrieval tower.
Its content of bar-stock or tubular material, press brake dies etc, ready to take and bring to any machine that requires it.

Initially the savings seem a little hard to quantify in numbers, but, really, if you just dig a little deeper, its an investment very much worth looking in to:


Read below to see what I mean: (And please modify the numbers to apply them to your own situation)

With material “at hand” ready to deliver it to a $ 200 /hr laser-cutter that otherwise would stand still for, say, an extra 15 minutes, that is already $ 50 per change-over in time saving.

Only four change-overs per shift is $ 200 which makes for $1,000 per week. And that is $ 52,000 per year! Mind you: that is only one machine, one shift!
ROI of a VIDIR Tower based on only one machine one shift, would be around 2-3 years. Based on two shifts probably 1.5 years.
ROI based on 3 lasers and 2 shifts: 8 – 10 months!

(Only the increased laser -up-time pays for the lease rate, think about it…)

Damaged material because of stacking skids on top of each other and workers trotting over it: This can be $ 25,000 to $ 100,000 per year.

Real estate savings. 110 sq/ft per cantilever rack, x 4 racks is 440 sq/ft.

Additional skids on the floor, like only 4 stacks of 5 x 10 skids is appr. another 250 sq/ft of floors pace wasted. That is almost 700 sq/ft in total which is 2 – 3% of the total floor space of a small to medium size outfit. Just wasted because of material storage.

Accidents / Injuries: A seriously injured employee because of a material handling accident can cost you everything you ever built up.
Even in less serious situations you will be “bleeding” too.
Youd probably wish you had organized your storage situation a little safer before.

A few forklift drivers / crane operators: Just because these workers are losing time everywhere due to waiting, searching and prepping areas to move through: Say $ 30,000 per year. (to be conservative)

Lack of space withholds you from putting more efficient gear on your floor which drags your operation down if you dont watch out.

Put in any $$ number you want.
Losing money everywhere makes that you simply lose out on a lot of profit.
The above listed losses are the most common ones.

But think also about the effect that a clean, crisp looking plant has on workers motivation. (that is simply priceless!)

It shows you how it can be done.

Now, the above mentioned numbers may be off a little here and there. Every situation is different but that you will return an investment in a smart VIDIR vertical storage & retrieval system in a decent time, that should be clear to everyone with a metal shop reading this article.

I hope I convinced you too, to look into VIDIR smart automated vertical storage systems.

Read further below for technical features.

VIDIR Vertical Lift Systems Feature:

-Plate / sheet storage tray dimensions: 5 ft x 10 ft (1524 x 3048 mm)
-Bar-stock towers: from 10 ft to 24 ft 3000 – 7296 mm) lengths and bins up to 10″ or 14″ high
– Load capacity per tray / bin: Up to 5,000 lbs (2,286 kg)
– Max material stack height per tray either 3.5″ or 5″
-Lifting speed: 28 ft / 42 ft/min (8.5 / 12 meter/min-Plate tower can be loaded from front & side
-Optional self-propelled material carts can roll up to 30 ft (10 meter) from tower
-Controls: Automatic
-Lift movement per servo drive rack & pinion system
-Safety system designed to SIL3 / CAT4 / PL e

Proudly made in Canada

Vertical Lift Module

Revolutionary new inventory management solution

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