In 2012, military veteran Tyler Merritt and his wife, Angela, started a small apparel company featuring patriotic clothing and accessories in the back of their garage. With Nine Line Apparel, the couple hoped to lift morale and provide financial assistance for fellow military service members, first responders, and victims of disaster. The market response to the company was so positive that in 2014, the Savannah, Ga.-based business moved to a storefront, only to realize within a few months that it needed even more space. That's when it made the decision to invest in a distribution facility.
"Prior to this facility, we essentially operated out of conexes [military cargo containers] lined up outside of our building. The efficiencies were nonexistent. We were putting tarps on top of pallets, and we palletized outside in the rain," said Merritt in a video statement.
With a growing product line and rising volume of orders, the company knew it needed some way to organize inventory in the 60,000-square-foot fulfillment center it was building. So it turned to material handling systems and equipment provider Bastian Solutions in 2017 to help it select and install racking for the new facility.
Once the selections were made and the components delivered, it took Bastian Solutions just three days to install an array of new rack systems and equipment: selective rack for static storage, pushback rack for dynamic storage, and carton-flow racking as well as ergonomic packing stations. In all, the new system features 672 selective-rack pallet positions, 336 pushback-rack positions, and 885 carton-flow pick faces, allowing Nine Line to store up to 1,100 pallets and 6,000 stock-keeping units (SKUs).
Along with providing much-needed storage space, the new system has yielded a variety of other benefits. For example, it has led to measurable gains in efficiency. Prior to the racks' installation, the number of touchpoints for each box of materials was around seven, according to Merritt. Today, that number has dropped to three.
The system has enabled productivity improvements as well. With the new equipment in place, Nine Line now has designated spaces for products, which helps the company better manage inventory and reduce customer leadtimes. On top of that, the racking system has reduced the potential for injury, the apparel company says.
As for the installation experience, Nine Line has nothing but praise for the vendor. "This particular project, for me, was above and beyond what most contractors have been able to provide. They were here when they said they were going to be here. They worked with their employees to make the process flow," said Stacey Wharton, chief production officer of Nine Line, in the video. "It was one of the best experiences I've ever had."