Teamwork drives new racking solutions at Allwest Auto Parts

By Steven Cox

Edmonton, Alberta — October 9, 2013 — The time finally came time to redo our body parts racking. Our old racking was insufficient, falling apart and was a constant challenge for anyone trying to put away parts. I am always checking out other recyclers to see how they do things and hopefully get some good ideas to improve what we do. I thought I had the perfect solution, but it made sense to consult everyone anyone that works with the racking to get their opinions and to see what would make the racking work best for them.

My focus was on getting the most parts in the smallest amount of space possible. I envisioned door racks three tiers high and a wall of bumpers. It would be impressive! This made sense to me….to get as much as possible together in one location. To me this seemed efficient. Well, after a few discussions, what I had thought would be the best racking solution was now out the window.

Inventory staff had different priorities when it came to the new racking. They saw a lot of damage from the old racking. This occurred as parts were not being easily accessed, due to their weight and size. The parts also contacted each other, or the steel racks themselves. causing damage and devaluing or in some cases destroying the parts.
The new racks at Allwest Auto Parts are designed to avoid all metal to metal contact, as well as for ergonomics and efficiency.  
The new racks at Allwest Auto Parts are designed to avoid all metal to metal contact, as well as for ergonomics and efficiency.   
When I approached the parts pullers whose responsibility it is to put away these parts, they had an entirely different view of efficiency. Their experience was that the higher up something goes, the greater the risk of injury and damage. They wanted racking designed so you could literally slide a heavy item from a pallet directly onto the rack. This also would increase their personal efficiency. 
It now became apparent that to create the perfect racking solution for us, I had to draw on everyone’s ideas. Everyone cared how it worked for them and how it would affect their ability to get their work done efficiently. When we moved forward, all racks were designed at optimal heights with access in front and behind to aid in retrieving or storing heavy or large items. We chose to use PVC tubing for dividers with a rebar core for strength and wooden bases. 
This design means there is never any metal to metal contact. We now have reduced the amount of damage during the storage of parts, reduced the chances of personal injury, reorganized our body parts racks while addressing the lack of storage space and increased overall efficiency of the inventory process for these items.
The most important outcome of this project is that all the staff has a racking solution that addresses their needs. They all got to provide their feedback and input into its design, thus realizing and gaining respect for the fact that I listen to and care for their needs, safety and efficiency. A common sense project for the company was transformed into an exciting morale booster and team builder for everyone!
Steven Cox is the General Manager of Allwest Auto Parts in Edmonton, Alta. The company can be reached at 780-465-4730.

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