Montgomery County's Division of Fleet Management Services operates 24/7 to keep engines running throughout Montgomery County. They provide maintenance and repair services to a number of other agencies and governments in the Montgomery area. Maintaining a fleet of over 2,205 automobiles, 454 heavy pieces of equipment, 390 transit buses and 212 user agency owned heavy equipment requires skilled technicians, efficient parts management and excellent customer service.
When a new heavy equipment and transit fleet facility was designed, there was little space allocated for the parts department. "The plan had more service bay space but less space for parts," Keith Powers, Program Manager II, Division of Fleet Management, explained. Montgomery County needed a solution for their parts department that would allow them to keep parts onsite and quickly accessible.
Two Shuttle VLMs from Kardex Remstar, each standing 14 feet tall, integrated with pick to light technology and inventory management software allowed Montgomery County Division of Fleet Management to maintain their parts inventory while reducing the footprint by 41%. The parts room previously measuring 9,800 square feet, was reduced to 5,800 square feet in the new facility. The two Shuttle XP VLMs sit side by side at the new facility, occupying a 112-inch by 112-inch area.
The VLMs are controlled by one workstation computer, Powers said. To retrieve a part, the operator simply enters the part number or scans a barcode. The extractor moves up the center column to retrieve the desired tray and delivers it to operator at the ergonomically positioned access opening. Delivering the part to the operator eliminates walk and search time commonly associated with shelving or bins; improving picking speed.
Each VLM is equipped with pick to light technology. A TIC (Transaction Information Center), integrated into the access opening of each unit, directs the operator to the exact location of the part within the tray. The LED light bar (TIC) not only indicates the exact cell to pick from, but also displays the part number and description. Pick to light technology speeds the picking process and increases pick accuracy to 99.9%.
Power Pick Global inventory management software drives the VLMs and is integrated with the fleet management information system (FMIS), Faster, to track inventory levels and provide real time inventory reports. Minimum quantity levels and reorder points can be set to ensure Montgomery County's Division of Fleet Management Services always has the right parts on hand, allowing them to service vehicles faster. Of the fleet's 6,000 parts numbers, about 3,200 are stored in the VLMs. The remaining heavier parts are stored on standard shelving.
Restocking is just as easy as picking. The inventory management software automatically selects a location for the new parts to be stored. The Shuttle VLM presents the tray in the access opening and the TIC directs the operator to the exact location to put the part. The operator places the part on the tray, confirms the transaction and the VLM stores the tray within the unit.
For operator safety, each VLM is comes standard with a safety light barrier. If the safety light barrier is interrupted while the machine is in motion, the unit will immediately stop. The operator is then required to resent the safety button before the unit will resume.
"It was a necessity for us. It allowed us to maintain parts inventory in less space while increasing picking efficiencies," Powers said.
Kardex Remstar, LLC, a company of the Kardex Group is a leading provider of automated storage and retrieval systems for manufacturing, distribution, warehousing, offices and institutions. For information about our dynamic storage solutions, call 800-639-5805 or visit www.kardexremstar.com.
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