Case Study - Natures Way Foods

Natures Way Foods

The design and installation of a high-density, pallet shuttle system, in partnership with warehouse storage solutions provider SEC Storage at Natures Way Foods Ltd dry stores packaging facility based in Chichester, Sussex…

Key Features:

  • Alternative storage solutions were considered such as a VNA operation and a drive-in racking system, however the final recommendation of a pallet shuttle system proved to be the most cost-effective solution overall
  • In a pallet shuttle system the handling of goods occurs primarily within the rack structure, where the battery powered pallet shuttle operated via remote control carries the pallet into the rack, working on either a FIFO (first-in-first- out) or FILO (first-in-last-out) basis
  • 555 no. positions were created in the 11,000+ sq/ft shuttle area, reducing the operational costs that would of occurred with a VNA solution and further minimising the risk of forklift truck collisions within the racking

Natures Way Foods Ltd began in 1994, when the Langmead brothers set up a small bagged salad operation. Their big idea was to combine the freshest lettuce with the latest food manufacturing technology. Since then, they’ve grown by expanding their customer base whilst moving into new fresh convenient categories and product areas.

Forkway Group Ltd invited SEC Storage to design a racking solution for Natures Way Foods dry packaging stores facility based in Chichester. A VNA operation was initially considered, however due to the costs of the materials handling equipment it was found that a shuttle system would be more suitable.

The structure that was designed and installed at Natures Way Foods comprises of 21 no. lanes with the majority of the lanes housing a maximum capacity of 5 no. pallets in both depth and height. The overall capacity of the installation now stands at 555 no. pallets total, in turn, maximising storage density whilst making full use of the facilities cubic footprint.

Due to the nature of the warehouse environment and the types of products stored within it, provisions were made to attach the pallet racking and shuttle structure to the floor with chemical anchor bolts, suitable for food safe environments. These chemical bolts are ideal for installations in wet or damp conditions and are vibration resistant, even at temperatures below 0° – perfect for the dry stores environment.

Multiple bays of adjustable pallet racking was also installed – a standardised solution which was used for additional packaging storage. This project at Natures Way Foods represents the continuation of a highly successful partnership with SEC Storage, and showcases how both of our companies work in tandem to find the best solutions for our clients’ materials handling operations moving forward.

In a shuttle system, the handling of goods occurs within the racking channels and is carried out using a remote controlled pallet shuttle. A standard reach forklift truck is used to handle pallets outside of the rack, and is also used to transfer the shuttle system from one channel to another. This setup removes the need for forklifts to access the channel directly.

The pallets are placed on a pallet shuttle – a battery powered pallet cart which carries the pallets into the rack. The shuttles run off of rechargeable batteries and also contain diagnosis software for troubleshooting issues – particularly effective for controlling load overhang, with the system working on either a FIFO (first-in-last-out) or LIFO (last-in-first-out) basis.