Switching from manual cold storage warehousing to an automated storage and retrieval system improves inventory accuracy.

When the Dematic ASRS machine runs up and down the aisle, it can handle four-deep pallet storage lanes on one side, and on the other side, it can handle eight-deep pallet storage lanes. Source: Dematic.

J.T.M. Food Group (JTM), located in Harrison, OH, is a family-owned food processor producing meat balls, sausage links, pork chorizo, steak ranchero, beef stroganoff, chili verde and much more. All of the company’s products are cooked, packaged, frozen and distributed from its own plant. Since the late 1960s, the processor has grown exponentially into a prominent meat processor with sales exceeding $72 million in 2007.

“We had been building new storage freezers every couple of years since we started the business,” says Joe Maas, JTM vice president of operations. “We were getting tired of the same size and type of storage freezers, so this last time, we built a really big one with 10,000 pallet locations, so that it would  take care of our needs for many years. We were operating with two 700-pallet storage freezers and using outside storage, and wanted to increase our efficiency by consolidating the freezers into one space and manage all inventory internally on location at the plant.”

Forklifts were another problem. “Not only do forklifts let out a tremendous amount of cold air from the freezer, they also create a lot of damage to the racking, doors and product,” says Maas.

JTM selected Dematic Corp. to design and build the storage retrieval system, including control software, racking and associated conveying equipment.

“The roof square footage with an ASRS is small,” Maas says. “Most of our cold loss is going to occur in the roof, so the ASRS design minimizes that,” he adds. “Our ASRS doors are six feet high and four feet wide, and when the product is passing through the door, it blocks air from getting out. Then the door shuts immediately. A standard freezer with a forklift has an eight-foot by ten-foot opening, and the door closes some time after the truck passes through, but slowly, releasing a lot of cold air.”

Dematic designed the system with a double-load, remote pallet handling device that can carry two pallets at a time. When JTM’s storage retrieval machine picks up loads from manufacturing, it loads up two pallets at a time and simultaneously puts away two pallets at a time, which decreases cycle time and increases throughput. The system uses StagingDirector software for inventory management and pallet movement with the ASRS, part of the Dematic WCS (Warehouse Control System) IT Suite. This system connects with JTM’s order management system.

The ASRS eliminated the excess air exchange in and out of the freezer, making it more efficient. Forklifts, along with their maintenance and labor costs, vanished.

For more information: Lizbeth Tommy, 616-913-6622, lizbeth.tommy@dematic.com.