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Company focuses on innovative warehousing solutions

Johannesburg-based storage manufacturer, supplier and installer Universal Storage Systems is focusing on providing the latest warehousing solutions; the company is the only South African company to have designed, engineered and installed a clad rack warehouse in the country.

Company sales and marketing director Jan Breytenbach tells Engineering News that some of the company’s most recent innovative work includes revamping pharmaceuticals company Dis-Chem’s distribution hub in Midrand at the beginning of this year. He says the project was complete within six weeks.

The distribution hub features very narrow aisles, and its racking reaches 20 m and holds 22 000 pallet positions. It has a wide aisle racking that reaches 12 m and holds 10 480 pallets.

The Dis-Chem distribution centre was first built in 2009 and, in 2013, Universal Storage Systems expanded the warehouse into a distribution centre and installed innovative storage systems to meet the pharmaceuticals and lifestyle company’s growing aptitude and customer base.

“The constantly growing pharmaceuticals company needed this to sustain its 84 stores in the country. As the company continuously expands, it had to enhance storage space strategically and centralise distribution centres to meet the requirements of its customers.

“Universal Storage Systems has mastered its own internal supply chain with design, concept feasibility, engineering, manufacturing and installation . . . we are strategically enforcing an innovative means of space creation for customers,” he explains.

Clad Rack Building
Universal Storage Systems logistics manager Charl Bekker explains that the company has learnt a lot from its 2012 project to design, engineer and install the country’s first completely locally produced clad rack distribution centre for logistics company UTi Pharma in Linbro Park, Johannesburg.

He explains that UTi Pharma wanted to centralise it distribution, which saw the company shut down eight warehouses and start distributing to customers from the Linbro Park hub.

Bekker adds that, although clad rack building, or clad rack warehousing, is popular worldwide, as it offers optimal cubic area storage space, and is relatively fast to erect and cost effective, the UTi Pharma warehouse remains the only one of its kind in the country.

The clad rack warehouse was customised to enable the storing of pharmaceuticals, and to meet stringent standards for a world renowned automated system and radio-frequency controls that were installed as part of the clad rack warehouse, which makes the warehouse self-functioning.

Bekker explains that the clad rack warehouse comprises racking as the main structure, with cladding sheets added for the walls and roof. The structures are easy to extend and it is this adaptability and flexibility that make rack cladding appealing.

“All the beams and uprights of the facility are made of pregalvanised steel at Universal Storage Systems’ Johannesburg factory and all the facility’s components adhere to the ISO 9001 and to the UK’s Storage Equipment Manufacturers Association standards,” he elaborates.

The project was commissioned by UTi Pharma, in conjunction with logistics company LGA Logistics’ consultants, for the storage of pharmaceuticals. The clad rack warehouse is 138 m long, 45 m wide and 31.5 m high and holds more than 38 000 pallets.

“The racking facility required engineering advances and the manufacturing of products which could sustain 38 000 pallets, and it was a first for us to make something of that size.

“During the course of that project, Universal Storage Systems showed its constant evolution in conceptualising and engineering, and its capability to adapt on-site manufactured products to the needs of the client,” Bekker says.

Challenges faced during the project included finding ways to strategically enhance storage space while contributing to the forecast supply chain development, he adds.

Breytenbach maintains that what sets Universal Storage Systems apart from other companies offering similar services is that the company does not just focus on racking and shelving, but takes an “all-encompassing approach”, where it is involved from the stage of identifying a challenge right to the stage of erecting the building that resolves the problem.

“Our secret lies in providing services no one else offers; we reinvent storage solutions to enhance space for any industry, from medicine to cold storage to motor vehicles. We are currently in the process of engineering and testing several products that are even stronger and can reach greater heights,” he assures.

Universal Products
Universal Storage Systems is constantly designing and engineering new products to meet customer needs, company technical manager Niel Pool tells Engineering News.

He highlights that some of the company’s trademark products include the Uni-Drive, which is used in racking; the Uni-Shelf, a mobile and static shelving system; the Uni-Edge and Uni–Canti racking systems; and the Uni-Bolt, which is a design-patented Universal product used to join products without having to weld them.

“The Uti Pharma and Dis-Chem projects have shown that Universal Storage Systems’ solutions optimise space and push the boundaries of storage demand, planning and technology. The projects have proved that we are able to provide answers in the field of storage,” he concludes.