Food ingredient manufacturer Denali’s rapid growth drove the need for more space, leading to a high-density storage solution suited to a narrow aisle environment.
One of byproducts of rapid growth is a space crunch in facilities. For Denali Ingredients, a Wisconsin-based food manufacturer, business growth in recent years was so great that it had been necessary to use some outside warehousing, complicating its materials processes.
Denali Ingredients is a leading supplier of chocolate coatings, fudge sauces, powders, fruit varieties, stabilizers, extruded products, flakes and other ingredients for the dairy, ice cream, bakery and food service industries. The company is known for its delicious products, as well as catering to increasing demand for gluten-free, organic and non-GMO ingredients.
Denali began in 2006, and with strong growth ever since, it opened a second plant in 2009 and a third in December 2018. Demand for the company’s ingredients was so strong they had to use outside warehousing services, which slowed the process as ingredients were not on hand in the same facility.
But with rapid lead time at 15 days, company leaders knew it was important to create a new space to maintain the quick turnaround and continuous growth of their operations and product lines.
To address these concerns, Denali made the decision to renovate their plant and warehouse space in New Berlin, Wisc. After examining bids and project proposals from multiple companies, the company went with a high-density storage solution (Wisconsin Lift Truck, part of Wolter Group) that involved new rack and lift truck equipment to accommodate its dry storage, cold storage and freezer storage needs. After the consultation and plan from Wisconsin Lift Truck, pushback rack (Steel King) was chosen as a key element for a high-density storage approach.
Pushback rack provided Denali the high-density storage they needed, more pallet positions and fewer aisles. The new rack system also supports a FIFO (first-in, first-out) inventory system, providing the best access to ingredients and improved inventory management. The pushback storage rack can offer up to 90% more storage space than traditional selective pallet racking.
To load, pallets are placed by forklift onto nested carts riding on inclined rails. Each pallet is then pushed back by the next pallet loaded, exposing the next cart. For unloading, the front pallet is removed, allowing other carts to roll gently to the front.
Denali’s new facility will hold a total of 2,400 pallet positions. Denali chose Steel King rack for its quality and durability, as well as convenience as they are also a Wisconsin-based manufacturer.
Denali also purchased a Linde E20S stand-up electric counterbalanced forklift to work with the pushback rack. According to Jon Manegold, Denali’s warehouse manager, the ergonomics of the forklift were a key consideration. “I had experience with Linde forklifts at a prior company, and my operators were happy with the comfort of the trucks throughout their entire 8-hour shift,” he says. “Not only were ergonomics important, but we needed a narrow aisle forklift due to the rack design we had chosen, and we wanted a brand of narrow aisle forklifts we know was quality built and reliable.”
Denali had collected information on a number of options before going with Wisconsin Lift Truck. Manegold and Robb Hinn, Denali’s vice president of operations, agree it was a collaborative design process with good communication on both sides, culminating in a high-density storage infrastructure, efficient material flow, and the right lift trucks for aisle space and lifting needs. The result was new rack infrastructure that provides Denali with space efficient storage for their present needs that can also can accommodate future expansion.
In addition to the pushback rack design, the design engineers provided solutions such as adding tunnels to the freezer rack systems to improve space utilization. Another choice was to have the rack system painted in custom colors to match Denali’s company logo. This decision was also made to ensure each section of the pushback rack was bright enough so that forklift operators can easily see what they are doing.