To meet retailer demand for efficient cold chain distribution east of the Mississippi River, Manfredi Cold Storage has had to keep expanding its Kennett Square, Pa., facility. 

Just recently it expanded the facility by 70,000 sq. ft., for 400,000 total sq. ft. of cold storage space, and already plans are in the works for future expansion. The distributor handles fruit, vegetables and food stuffs from 22 countries at 0-55°F, and it provides retailers with wireless, real-time inventory and access.

In order to keep such continued growth on track, however, effective operation has required the use of an exceptionally rugged drive-in rack, designed to the application by Steel King Industries, according to Rob Wharry, the facility’s director of operations.

 “About 150-200 truckloads of product move in and out of our storage every day, about 25,000 pallets, so the drive-in rack needs to be very durable and accessible,” says Wharry. 

Environmental challenges

Drive-in rack enables storing up to 75 percent more pallets than selective rack and is ideal for high-traffic and cooler/freezer installations. With drive-in rack, forklifts drive directly into the rack to allow storage of two or more pallets deep. 

But because forklifts drive directly into the rack, they tend to take more abuse than other rack structures. In cooler and freezer applications, the rack must withstand forklift abuse due to the confined space, slick surfaces and cold temperatures that slow driver reflexes and make impact more frequent.

“We’re in and out of rack with heavy pallets and equipment so many times a day,” says Wharry. “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.”

Looking to optimize the rack’s durability and operation, the cold chain distributor turned to Steel King Industries, a storage system and pallet rack manufacturer. In the most recent expansion, about 4,000 pallets of refrigerated storage capacity were added. For this, Manfredi Cold Storage chose the SK3000 pallet rack, a rugged bolted rack with structural channel columns. 

Compared to typical racking, the Steel King pallet rack is constructed of hot-rolled structural channel column with full horizontal and diagonal bracing for greater frame strength, durability and cross-sectional area. All Grade-5 hardware provides greater shear strength, and a heavy 7-gauge wrap-around connector plate ensures a square and plumb installation with a tighter connection and greater moment resistance.

The drive-in rack also includes a number of features that enhance ease-of-use and safety. The load rail construction includes: structural angle rails that “guide” pallets for ease of use; 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-inch 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.

With continuing growth expected, the distributor is already planning to start the construction of a new cold storage facility in southern New Jersey.

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

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