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Cold storage distributor optimizes operations and storage with a new racking system

Manfredi Cold Storage is growing — and its racking system is following suit. To meet increasing retailer demand for efficient cold chain distribution east of the Mississippi River, the distributor has installed a drive-in rack system at its Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, facility that can withstand rigorous, harsh operations and chilly temperatures.

Manfredi’s new rack system was part of the company’s recent expansion. It built an additional 70,000 sq ft of cold storage space, for a total of 400,000 sq ft. The facility stores and distributes a variety of fruits, vegetables and foodstuffs from 22 countries at temperatures ranging from 0°F to 55°F while providing retailers with wireless, real-time inventory and access.

High standards

As part of the expansion, Manfredi decided to upgrade its rack system from selective racks to drive-in racks, which enables 75 percent more storage than selective racks, according to Rob Wharry, director of operations at Manfredi. In addition, the company wanted a rack system that would allow workers to quickly and efficiently move 25,000 pallets in and out of the facility daily. It also had to be durable and strong enough to handle cold temperatures and forklift abuse. Forklift impact is frequent in cold facilities because the confined space, slick surfaces and chilly environment slow driver reflexes.

“We’re in and out of rack with heavy pallets and equipment so many times a day,” Wharry says. “It’s a fact of life that sometimes forklifts will run into the rack, so it just needs to be able to stand up to the daily use.”

Manfredi installed SK3000 pallet racks from Steel King Industries, the Stevens Point, Wisconsin-based storage system and pallet rack manufacturer, adding about 4,000 pallets of refrigerated storage capacity.

Safe and strong

SK3000 pallet racks are constructed of hot-rolled structural channel columns with full horizontal and diagonal bracing, offering greater frame strength, durability and cross-sectional areas than conventional selective racking, according to Wharry. The Grade-5 hardware provides shear strength, while the heavy 7-gauge wrap-around connector plate ensures a square and plumb installation with a tighter connection and greater moment resistance.

Wharry says he appreciates the drive-in rack’s ease of use and safety. The drive-in load rail construction includes structural angle rails that guide pallets easily; flared rail entry ends to allow easy bay access; space-saver, low-profile arms that increase clearance and decrease possible product damage; welded aisle-side load arms that eliminate hazardous load projections into aisles; welded rail stops that prevent loads from being pushed off and increase safety; and 2-in. vertical adjustability of the bolted rack, which allows for a variety of configurations for current or future products.

For extra protection and reinforcement against forklift impact, a guard on the front of the rack’s first upright was added. The double-column, welded-angle column protector is designed for heavy pallets and provides additional strength.

Made to order

Steel King also customized the drive-in rack system based on the facility’s footprint and the company’s products. The rack openings are about 12 in. to 16 in. taller than a standard rack opening to allow the use of very tall pallets. Additional adjustments to the rack include the specific implementation of guards, heavy rails and how it is anchored to the floor.

“Our operation is a little different than a typical storage customer because we’re dealing with lots of different sized products, so we had a very specific design in mind,” Wharry says.  “Everything is specific to our application: rack height, width, pallet loads and how we utilize it.”

With the racks fully operational at the Kennett Square facility, Manfredi is looking ahead to implement the racking system in a new cold storage facility that it is building in southern New Jersey.

“When the new facility is constructed, the racking set up will be just like what we have here,” concludes Wharry. “We’ve determined what works for us and our customers, and now it’s just a matter of ramping up.”