Custom design and installation maximize usable space in Werner Electric Supply’s large-scale distribution operation
To take full advantage of the vertical storage space of its high-ceiling, 200,000 sq. ft., warehouse distribution center, Werner Electric Supply required unusually large, customized cantilever racking. The structure, ultimately, would be so massive that it could not be traditionally manufactured. Instead, it would need to be specially designed, shipped in sections and welded on-site.
The Appleton, Wisconsin-based distributor of electrical, lighting, datacom, pneumatic, safety, and automation solutions, a top 30 electrical distributor in North America, had a need to optimally store and retrieve large quantities of various types of electrical conduit and strut channel.
Both conduit (which encloses and protects electrical wiring) and strut (which provides light structural support for wiring, plumbing or mechanical components) can be long and unwieldy without proper storage and handling.
Cantilever racking, a type of steel shelving unit with long arms that extend from metal frames, can be used to store nearly any type of load, but is particularly good for long, bulky or awkward materials that are not well suited to fit on pallets. It is a forklift-friendly rack system, often used to store a wide variety of building materials, structural members, and other items such as conduit, pipe, lumber, sheetrock, steel bar stock, tubing, rolls, extrusions, doors, furniture, appliances and even cars.
Since the rack has no front column this increases usable horizontal space, which helps to maximize storage capacity and density. Without a front column, there is easy access for loading and unloading as each storage slot is immediately accessible. This arrangement makes the rack more selective than many traditional options, and lowers handling time and costs. The arms also provide adjustable rack openings that easily accommodate various load dimensions.
Both reduced handling times and increased space utilization make cantilever rack very cost-efficient, and the rack becomes more economical to incorporate than pallet rack when load length increases.
While cantilever rack is typically offered in light duty, standard, and heavy-duty I-beam options, for the super-sized cantilever rack Werner Electric Supply turned to Stevens Point, WI-based Steel King Industries, a leading manufacturer of material handling and storage racking products.
“To store the amount of conduit required to support our customer’s needs, Steel King was willing to customize and build cantilever rack that was tall and allowed us to efficiently use the space in our building without having to increase the footprint,” said Lloyd Fabry, Werner Electric Supply Regional Distribution Center Manager.
According to Fabry, the warehouse is 45’ tall, so to take full advantage of the height and space, extra-large custom cantilever rack had to be built and installed.
With support from Steel King’s in-house staff of professional engineers, the cantilever rack was designed so it is 35’ high with 25 arm levels for storing conduit and strut. The structure was so large, in fact, that before installation it had to be shipped in several pieces and welded together on-site by a crew of installers at the warehouse distribution center.
I-Beam for Added Strength
For strength, reliability, and operational efficiency heavy duty I-Beam cantilever rack was used. It is constructed of structural steel with a 50,000-psi minimum yield, and utilizes a heavy arm connector plate and bolted column-to-base connections.
Such I-Beam cantilever rack allows access from both sides. The design saves horizontal space normally lost to rack structure, reduces fork truck damage and allows for faster load and unload times. With freestanding heights of over 30’, 8’ arm lengths, and arms that adjust vertically in 4″ increments, the rack provides ample storage options.
To enable safe, versatile operation, removable pipe stops were added to the rack arms. Scannable barcodes were also placed on the rack near each stored item to facilitate an immediate inventory update whenever high reach lift drivers add or remove conduit or strut.
Since the warehouse has an FSR sprinkler system, an open-web cantilever rack was also an attractive option. Open-web allows in-rack sprinkler systems to be installed within the upright frames. This helps to maximize storage space and protects sprinkler heads from damage.
Altogether over 30 storage bays of 35’ high cantilever rack were installed and have been a successful part of Werner Electric Supply’s distribution operations whenever conduit or strut is required.
When large or custom, oversized cantilever rack is utilized to take full advantage of vertical warehouse storage like Werner Electric Supply, it is important to be aware of any structural impediments in the warehouse itself that can limit clear space.
In regards to ceiling obstructions, of course, enough clearance must be allowed for any lighting, HVAC, or fire suppression equipment such as sprinklers. In terms of warehouse flooring, the cantilever rack design should also take into account any protuberances, changes in elevation, as well as floor drains for fire suppression systems.
Whether for electrical supply, plumbing supply, lumber yards, furniture or other retailers or distributors, whenever long or bulky items must be efficiently stored and retrieved cantilever rack is often the answer.