Vieira's Bakery needed more frozen storage capacity—and it needed it fast (that is, before its fourth production line came online). A producer of European-style breads, the 100,000-square-foot Newark, N.J., bakery had ramped up operations in order to ship nationwide and to Canada. But its physical plant had fallen short of its needs. To be precise, the bakery needed more freezer space to store its 150-plus stock-keeping units (SKUs) of frozen par-baked and fully baked rolls and breads.
"Because of insufficient freezer capacity, we sometimes had to switch products on the same production line a few times a day, which reduced productivity," said Carlos Vieira, founder and president of Vieira's Bakery, in a press release. "Adding freezer capacity was essential before implementing our fourth production line and critical to our expansion efforts."
Trouble was, there was little room for expansion. While Vieira was able to buy some additional land next to his plant, it did not offer sufficient space to construct a new building.
To help solve its capacity problem, Vieira turned to Daryl Hull, a racking and material handling consultant with 40 years of industry experience, and Steel King Industries, a storage system and pallet rack manufacturer. In short order, Hull came up with a solution. Rather than try to erect a standard building and put storage racks inside it, he recommended that the bakery go with something a little different: a rack-supported freezer storage structure with insulated panels attached to the top and sides to form sidewalls and a roof.
"Rack-supported structures help to maximize storage because the building envelope exactly matches the storage space," said Hull in the release. "The design eliminates the need for building columns, which waste space and interfere with traffic. Instead, the rack uprights act like building columns, and freezer units can be positioned within the racking to further optimize storage."
In the end, Vieira opted to build a rack-supported pushback-rack structure that added about 8,000 square feet of storage space and 1,200 double-high pallet positions. The company was able to fit the rack-supported structure into a corner of Vieira's existing land.
As for the racking itself, the bakery chose pushback rack in a four-deep configuration from each aisle face to maximize storage density. With this type of rack, pallets are stored behind each other in a series of nested carts and are loaded from the same side of the system, eliminating the need for separate aisles for each function. The system is composed of a stable rack along with a series of inclined carts and rails. When one pallet is pulled, the one behind it rolls forward.
There was an added consideration with this project, however. The rack-supported structure would require exceptional strength to support up to 1,200 double pallet positions as well as the weight of numerous freezer units, the insulated panels, and the structure's outside walls. Steel King's SK3000 pallet rack, a rugged bolted rack with structural channel columns, was chosen for the job.
Built on a slab right beside the bakery's existing freezer storage area, the new rack-supported structure was finished and ready to use within eight weeks, in time for the startup of the company's new production line. Once the new structure was finished, a hole was cut in the wall of the existing freezer area to create a pass-through for lift trucks to enter the new freezer space.
As for how the new structure is working out, the bakery considers it a winner. "Since we implemented our Steel King rack-supported pushback rack structure, we have enough frozen storage capacity to run a product line for an entire day," said Vieira in the release. "The rack-supported option was easier and much more cost-effective than having to ... erect a new building and then install new rack inside."