Challenge: Improve operations, merchandising, display, quality control and profitability
Solution: Steel King Industries drive-through cantilever building
Company: Reeves Ace Hardware
Headquarters: Highlands, N.C.
Operation: Hardware and building supply
Although Reeves Ace Hardware is conveniently located for shoppers in the downtown area of Highlands, N.C., the store faced storage constraints because of limited space. There were few options for expanding the building because of restrictive ordinances as well as the proximity of neighboring businesses. Oftentimes inventory was left outside uncovered and insufficiently protected from weather damage. At the same time, cramped, inefficient storage spaces resulted in redundant product handling, which increased the risk of product damage.
A lack of continuous rack space for display and storage also hindered merchandising and inventory management. Because of this, customers could not readily see all products available, and the store team faced challenges shipping products to job sites.
Reeves Ace Hardware executives identified key objectives to improve the situation. They opted to create a drive-through structure to provide additional storage without additional overhead. The optimized space would have wide aisles to ease loading, shopping and accessibility.
In addition, the structure was engineered to withstand inclement weather. “It needed to be built to survive the storm of the century,” says Reeves Ace Hardware Manager Jim Luke.
In addition, the structure had to comply with local ordinances, offer aesthetic appeal and avoid disrupting existing operations.
Reeves turned to LJS Solutions LLC, Sumter, S.C., for its expertise in creating lumber and building material facilities. LJS Regional Sales Manager Bill Lawson teamed up with Steel King Industries, a Stevens Point, Wis.-based manufacturer of warehouse material-handling products, to develop a cantilever rack–supported building.
The cantilever rack-supported building offers many construction benefits. Because the racking system supports the overall building structure, it’s a more cost-effective solution than a conventional metal building with freestanding racks. It was also faster to build than other structures, and fewer contractors were required to complete the building process.
The concrete involved in the construction process also can use a simpler, more cost-effective design than traditional options. For example, footings for support columns do not need to be as deep as those for conventional buildings. And building anchors are installed in finished concrete, not placed prior to concrete pours. This was a major factor in enabling Reeves to continue doing business during construction.
To maximize the allowable building size on the property — and in compliance with building ordinances while optimizing lineal and cubic storage space — the team built a structure 100 feet long by 92 feet wide that only uses 22% of the store’s plot. The structure houses three double-sided runs of cantilever and two drive aisles.
Functionally, a drive-through cantilever building was the best choice to meet Reeves’ needs because the racks are compact, adaptable and well suited to storing long or odd-shaped building materials. In addition, customers can now see all items available for purchase. To meet structural requirements, Steel King used strategic spacing of roof-support columns, along with a cost-effective roof girder and substructure. The engineering resulted in a snow load of 40 pounds per square foot, exceeding local code requirements. The structure has sufficiently protected products from Highland’s 81 inches of annual rainfall as well as snow loads.
Inside the building are two 90-foot runs and one 70-foot run of double-sided cantilevers. The bottom two levels of the 90-foot runs of racks are for picking orders, and the top two levels hold overstock. The 70-foot center rack allows for picking on three levels and overstock on two levels.
Because the cantilever racks themselves do not have front columns, they are at least 20% faster to load and unload than other racking solutions, thus increasing the speed of order picking and reducing material-handling costs. This also saves horizontal space normally lost to the rack structure and increases handling clearance.
The use of a drive-through, cantilever-rack-supported building has resulted in significantly better material handling, product protection, merchandising and aesthetics. This has boosted profitability and civic pride.
“This project was long overdue,” Luke says. “We should have really done it 20 years ago. It is a great asset to our company, our inventory and our community.”
Reeves Ace Hardware Manager John McCall adds, “We have had many positive comments on the work Steel King and LJS completed and are very pleased with the results.”
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