Dedicated to improving manufacturing efficiency

Going to great lengths for picking efficiency

Challenged to install an order picking system for Spirax Sarco’s production facility in a space just 10m wide and 140m long, Bito Storage Solutions provided a solution that has delivered a 20 per cent improvement in ­picking efficiency as well as accommodating company growth

Having already successfully installed a carton live picking system for Spirax Sarco’s Finished Goods Store at the beginning of 2010, Bito Storage Systems has implemented the next phase in the Cheltenham-based manufacturer’s project to transform its order picking.

Bito’s new storage and picking installation is a key part of Spirax Sarco’s programme to refurbish its manufacturing facility in Runnings Road, Cheltenham. It receives components from the machine shop, which runs on a 24/7 operation, and feeds the production lines where they are assembled into the products that form Spirax Sarco’s vast range. The completed products then go into the Finished Goods Store.

With this new system, eight staff pick 500 lines per day for delivery to the line side. This means Spirax Sarco is picking at least 20 per cent more efficiently than it did previously and everyday that pick is between 99 to 100 per cent right first time.

Bito’s challenge was to install a system with the capacity to accommodate Spirax Sarco’s growth plans and provide a smooth flow through the plant yet fit into a space of just 10m wide and 140m long. Combining its expertise and range of products, and with the help of a small extension to the building, Bito devised a solution that gives Spirax Sarco 9,000 positions for a range of Bito carton sizes in this space.

The entire storage installation, which is split into four pick zones serving four production zones, comprises two 170m long aisles of Bito’s standard, galvanised Pro Racking, six levels high. One of these aisles is a narrow aisle store, served by two wire-guided VNA (Very Narrow Aisle) trucks. This is the location for Euro pallets with collars or Bito’s 800 x 600 XL plastic containers holding Spirax Sarco’s bulkier items or large numbers of faster moving small parts. The pallets are stored with their short side at the pick face to allow three pallets to be located between the uprights.

The narrow aisle runs alongside a two-tier carton live structure, which is integral to the rack. With its 650 square metre mezzanine this structure provides an aisle of carton live storage on two tiers to hold smaller items, weighing no more than 15kg, in Bito’s 600 x 400mm and 400 x 300mm XL containers, with the smallest items held in Bito’s RK plastic trays. Standardising on Bito containers means Spirax Sarco’s handling units are all completely compatible, allowing them to fit together neatly. The carton live flow lanes are two containers deep. Items are picked from the front container into a tote pushed along an integrated gravity roller conveyor. To accommodate further development, Bito’s design incorporates space to install a powered conveyor in the future, which will allow goods to be sent automatically down the line.

Picked items from the mezzanine floor are transferred from the integrated picking conveyor to a transverse conveyor travelling to a Gebhardt lift serving that zone. The lift takes the picked goods down to the production floor for despatch to the lines.

Bito’s solution gives Spirax Sarco a massive increase in storage capacity and in its ability to pick items.

Edward Hutchison, MD at Bito Storage Systems says: “It was a massive challenge to fit this racking structure, let alone the required stock capacity, within a 10 m wide strip. It required detailed planning involving some 23 drawings to get to the right solution for Spirax Sarco. That’s the beauty of what we do and we have all the products needed to design a storage solution to make the best use of density of stock.”

The next stage for Spirax Sarco and Bito, in addition to optimising the lineside storage, is to complete the flow at the Runnings Road site with a new Finished Parts Store. Bito’s installation in 2010 was in a temporary site just down the road to make way for the refurbishment work at Runnings Road and give the manufacturer a chance to establish and test a new, and far more efficient, carton live order picking system. This is now playing a critical role in the growth of the company’s global distribution operation. 

When the new Finished Goods Store is erected next to the production line hall, Bito will transfer the existing carton live storage currently in the temporary site in addition to increasing the pick face by 30 per cent.


Bito Storage Solutions

T: 024 7638 8850

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