Espi’s stores its raw materials, such as frozen meats and poultry, in a small freezer, while thawing and processing take place in production areas. Some of the unfinished products go to the company’s main freezer before packaging. After packaging, the finished products return to the main freezer, which is the final storage location for all finished products and the source of all shipments going to customers. U.S. Department of Agriculture regulations require that the products remain frozen for food safety.
When the main freezer broke down at Espi’s plant in Seattle, the company had to transfer its products to a rented freezer while its main freezer underwent repairs. The company’s plant manager had been thinking of installing racks in the main freezer for quite some time and began researching various rack manufacturers while the freezer was undergoing repairs. Espi’s needed a solution that would better organize the freezer and free up additional space to store more products. The company had concerns that new processing orders would lead to the need for more freezer space. The current freezer had no racking, and the company was storing pallets containing up to 10 boxes piled on top of each other. Espi’s also was using almost all of the 456 square feet of available freezer space.
After a call from Interlake Mecalux’s CEO, Espi’s decided to bring in the storage systems provider to come up with a recommendation. “Interlake Mecalux’s sales rep. played a significant role in making us decide to go with Interlake Mecalux,” said Manny Miciano, Espi’s administrative officer and sales and marketing manager. “His visit sealed the deal, and we appreciated that.”
Interlake Mecalux’s proposed solution
After providing Interlake Mecalux with a layout and dimensions of the freezer, Espi’s elected to install bolted Selective Rack. The freezer now features 12, 8 ft. x 36 in. frames and 28 beams that are 96 in. long. Selective pallet racking was ideal for Espi’s freezer because it offers direct access to the product, simple stock management and adaptation to any product volume, weight or size. Interlake Mecalux’s bolted selective pallet rack remains the gold standard of industrial strength rack and the ideal for any application where selective racking is necessary.
Espi’s new bolted Selective Rack has enhanced space utilization within the company’s freezer. The new racking system only uses 32% of the total freezer space, while storing almost the same volume of stock, according to Miciano. With 68% of freezer space still available, it is now easier to plan for additional racking if needed in the future, he said.
Miciano added that Espi’s main freezer is now very well organized and clean, so much so that it even impressed the most stringent of USDA inspectors. “The USDA Inspector, who happens to be very particular with freezers, is very satisfied with what he saw. We now feel more confident about dealing with our new Inspector,” he said.
The Interlake Mecalux bolted Selective Rack makes it easier to record inventory and locate products, leading to a more efficient operation. It also is more sanitary and easier to maintain than the company’s former freezer setup, according to Miciano. The results of the racking installation have been so positive, that Miciano and others say the company should have installed racking many years ago.
“In fact, the freezer technician who’s been doing all the repairs said, ‘Why did it take us 27 years to do the racking?’ The constant complaint of lacking freezer space is no longer an issue in the plant,” he said.
As for the future, the company’s goal now is to expand operations and production in five years. Eventually, it will become a necessity for the company to relocate to a bigger facility, which will require larger freezers.
“We are looking at freezers of about 12-ft. high, which will definitely require racking,” Miciano said.
Advantages for the customer
- Enhanced space utilization: with the new system, the Selective Racks only occupy 32% of Espi’s total main freezer space, making it easier to install additional racking if necessary.
- Easier inventory recording and location of products: Espi’s Selective Rack has improved inventory controls and made stock management simpler.
- More sanitary and easier maintenance: the Selective Rack has led to a more organized freezer space and improved sanitary conditions, which is vital in the storage of frozen foods.
Products used in this project