Twelve years after their 2006 east coast operational expansion, Shimano American Corporation, the U.S. subsidiary of Osaka, Japan-based Shimano, Inc., has positioned itself for continued growth in their Irvine, CA and Ladson, SC distribution centers. Responding to the transformational business climate, new materials handling technologies, demographic changes, and continued expansion of product lines, the company has increased square footage, and maximized workflow.
Allen Johnston, Senior Manager of Operations at Shimano American elaborates: "We have improved our operational capabilities through facility expansion and process efficiencies. Our customers expect same day shipments with improved transit times. Our products are so diverse, consisting of both hard and soft goods, and components of varying size - we improved our process efficiencies and storage capabilities. Fortna, and Western Pacific helped us achieve those objectives."
The supply chain and materials handling experts from Fortna, along with engineering and fabricating specialists from Western Pacific Storage Solutions (a manufacturer of industrial shelving and work platforms) partnered to move Shimano's distribution centers to this next level of excellence.
It's more than just wheels and reels at Shimano. The company is a highly-respected manufacturer and distributer of quality bicycle components and multiple brands of fishing tackle. It maintains a product range broad enough to accommodate both weekend warriors, and professional anglers and athletes. Shimano American also make high-end G.Loomis fishing rods at its facility in Woodland, WA, PowerPro braided fishing line in Grand Junction, CO, and distributes its Pearl Izumi technical athletic clothing line - offices based in Louisville, CO - to devotees across the Unites States and Canada.
Western Pacific's Deluxe shelving system provided a flexible mix of storage options for heavy-duty, multi-level applications.
.significantly increased square footage at both distribution centers
.upgraded facilities to meet new codes at the Irvine, CA location
.seamlessly integrated brand new, Deluxe multi-level shelving from WPSS with existing product of a different make
.increased the number of 'pick locations,' and utilized flow rack for higher-volume pick SKUs.
Since the Irvine and Ladson projects unfolded simultaneously, the Fortna-Western Pacific team carefully orchestrated the operations of all players. They found creative, on-site ways to solve the engineering challenges that emerged. During the Irvine project, it was discovered that there was no optimal way to remove cartons and trash from the 2nd and 3rd floors of the pick module. Western Pacific's Engineering team responded quickly and came up with a solution - an innovative trash shoot spacious enough to accommodate the volumes of trash that workflow on the upper platforms generated.
Johnston weighed in on the topic of problem solving during large overhauls: "In terms of advice to someone else going into a project like this one, I would say, start with world class partners like Fortna and WPSS who will understand your business requirements (not just data on a spreadsheet) and work as a partner to develop your operational needs. Make sure you take the time to plan for all of the little things you don't think about—like the position of HVAC systems, fire sprinkler systems or in this case, trash disposal."
WPSS president Tom Rogers emphasized how important it is for partners and fabricators to speak the same language: "Great partners and fabricators figure out the worst-case scenarios ahead of time together, and plan accordingly. That's why experience counts. We understand the hidden costs of lost time. Advance planning and agility are key."
Luke Wood, Fortna Project Manager, echoes Rogers' sentiments: "Our model at Fortna is to save our clients time and money...we always put our clients first. In some states, like California, building codes and permitting requirements are more complicated, and you need to build in time for that. Western Pacific was great to work with. Their field support, design change flexibility, and consistently-open lines of communication contributed greatly to the success of both projects."
For the Irvine location:
A brand new, 3-level pick module was engineered and constructed. All of the design and construction was from scratch, adding an additional 50,000 of square footage.
The new module upped the number of pick locations from 3,000 to 15,000.
Irvine's pick module is three stories tall
For the Ladson DC:
New, color-matched 2-level pick module constructed.
Total expansion project added 99,000 square feet including additional office space.
Expansion allowed Shimano America to increase employment at the facility by 50%
The California DC expansion project took a year to complete - from conception to full implementation. The South Carolina DC was completed ahead of schedule. Both locations have increased throughput, and built-in capacity allows for future growth across all product lines.
The successful Shimano expansion projects are proof positive that it pays to utilize seasoned partners and qualified, well-established fabricators who know the integrator's universe, and understand the desires of the end user. Synergy between the two players is essential.
Johnston emphasizes: "In speaking to counterparts at other companies like Shimano, my advice would be to invest time in the relationships you forge with your partners—if you don't have a clear relationship, things can be brushed under the covers very quickly. Make sure that you take the time to help your partners understand your business and your products - anyone can do analysis, but does the solution truly apply to your unique business?"
Tom Rogers, WPSS President shared, "At Western Pacific, we set high standards, and we seek to go beyond successful collaboration with other industry partners. We're proud of our work with Fortna."