When the Swiss electrical equipment wholesaler Winterhalter + Fenner AG decided to build a new DC, it wanted to make sure the 107,600-square-foot facility reflected its commitment to sustainable design. So the company presented its contractor, Stoecklin Logistics Inc., with an unusual request: Could the engineering firm use wood instead of steel to build the frame of its three-story automated storage and retrieval system (AS/RS)?
Stoecklin drew up the plans, and today Winterhalter + Fenner operates Switzerland’s first wooden high-bay warehouse. Located in St. Gallen, the 72-foot-tall building includes a high-density material handling system that can store 6,000 pallets and 1,500 cases, using an automated system with 55,000 containers and 70 robots.
But that’s not to say it was easy. “Using wood for the structural basis of an automated storage and retrieval system creates [both] opportunities [and] challenges. Stoecklin worked closely with Winterhalter + Fenner to ensure that the wooden rack configuration in the warehouse met the same criteria as a steel one for precision, durability, safety, and fire protection,” Damaris Grütter, Stoecklin’s managing director of U.S. and Canada, said in a release. “It wasn’t an easy project, but the results have been excellent.”