Africa-focused warehousing solutions provider APC Storage Solutions SA says that the recent addition to its range of automated storage solutions, the Clasimat vertical lift module (VLM), which is sourced from Spain-based storage systems manufacturer Meculax, is helping to grow the company’s reach in the market.
APC Storage Solutions SA MD Fred Albrecht tells Engineering News that the company started supplying the system to the Southern African market several years ago and that it has been seeing an increased uptake in recent months.
He says the Clasimat VLM has been designed to enhance warehouse storage capacity by extending storage space and that it can reduce warehouse costs by up to 30%.
“The unit is completely sealable and prevents stored items from gathering dust and grime. The Clasimat VLM can be used for storing all types of products generally stored in boxes, such as tools and electric components.
“It also provides a highly secure storage facility, which makes it ideal for storing valuable or risky items, including jewellery, pharmaceutical drugs and small automotive parts,” he explains.
Albrecht states that the unit can be located in any area with a ceiling that can accommodate the elevation height required. He adds that the unit can be made to fit inside a warehouse and replace conventional racking or shelving. It can also be placed in other environments, such as office environments and pharmacy back rooms.
The Clasimat height may vary, depending on requirements, and its external height can reach 12.6 m. This, together with the possibilities offered by the various types of trays, provides a wide range of 51 Clasimat combinations to meet any operative requirement.
“This means the goods stored inside are protected from possible accidental impact and improper handling. The door, which opens only when merchandise is picked up or delivered, consists of two downward sliding panels, preventing access to the shuttle from the front,” he elaborates.
Further, products are stored in the same trays in which they are shipped. The trays are available in 13 size variations – from 2 039 mm × 615 mm to 4 268 mm × 816 mm. The tray’s configuration is suitable for a wide variety of medium- to large-size products or it can be used with dividers for smaller-size articles. The maximum load per tray is 300 kg to 800 kg.
The Clasimat VLM’s racking comprises two multilevel sections on opposite sides of a movable lift unit, which acts as a shuttle system that picks up and moves trays on the racks to a suitable and available location in the rack or to the picking area.
Albrecht notes that the unit is suitable for the African market and that warehouse managers who use it stand to benefit from “a long-term gain of about 20% to 30% in savings” on monthly warehousing expenses.
“An improvement on a company’s warehousing usually has rippling effects on productivity, whereby the workflow pace and storage accuracy are increased,” he concludes, adding that shift lengths can also be increased as automated power, not labour, is used.
Albrecht further tells Engineering News that, owing to factors such as the increasing cost of labour and energy, a general lack of skills and low productivity standards, local supply chain companies are at risk of losing their competitive edge and that this has triggered a trend towards warehouse automation in the country.
He adds that, despite the initial capital investment, automated systems have the ability to reduce operating expenditure by between 20% and 30% in both ambient and cold storage warehouses.
“Although the cost of labour locally is currently lower than in Europe, it is projected that it will inflate by between 8% and 10% yearly for the next five years . . . and the local general warehouse productivity is up to 70% below the European average, owing to an industrywide skills shortage. For these reasons, warehouse automation is beginning to make more sense as a viable alternative to traditional methods of warehousing,” he elaborates.
Albrecht highlights that warehouse automation also helps improve picking rates and leads to items moving in and out of a warehouse at higher speeds than they would with systems that depend exclusively on manual labour.
“Automation can work longer shifts, absenteeism is nonexistent, and setting a higher pace throughout a warehouse further drives down the overall cost per movement,” he adds.
Albrecht highlights that, with Mecalux as APC Storage Solutions SA’s technology partner, the company’s automated systems are developed by a global research and development network that boasts a yearly budget in excess of €30-million.
This, he adds, allows the companies to offer highly competitive solutions, while guaranteeing high standards of engineering with each product. The company’s automated range includes the VLM mobile base for racking and shelving, radio shuttle pallet moles, stacker cranes, storage carousels and conveyor systems for pallets and boxes, all of which can be designed individually to be seamlessly integrated into conventional storage systems.
About APC Storage Solutions SA
APC Storage Solutions SA is a division of APC Group, which has been supplying storage technology in Southern Africa since 1991.
APC Storage Solutions SA has installed more than 25 000 t of storage equipment in more than 750 warehouses across Africa. The company has representatives in Angola, Botswana, Egypt, Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, Namibia, Nigeria, Mozambique, the Seychelles, Swaziland and Zimbabwe.
Albrecht concludes that APC Storage Solutions SA has in recent months, been contracted to provide various turnkey systems for companies that include vegetable retailer Just Veggies, food distributing company Frozen Foods Distributors, water supplier Valpré, automotive company Mazda, logistics company Dachser, multipurpose terminals company Fresh Produce Terminal and wholesaler Cabinet Fittings, besides many others.