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Ferguson Box Saves Space

Tue, 07/21/2009 - 10:17am

Ferguson Supply and Box manufactures and distributes custom and stock corrugated boxes, containers, displays, bags, packaging supplies, foam products, as well as graphic art and design services. With the company’s in-house structure and graphic design team, Ferguson has the ability to take a packaging concept from an idea to the retail shelf or safely into the customers’ hands.

Their facilities were previously divided at two locations totaling approximately 200,000 sq ft. After rethinking their processes, organizational methods, and material flow, they elected to consolidate into one 185,000 sq ft modern facility and implement a “core” operation philosophy.

With increasing business and a 15,000 sq ft reduction in their total building space, achieving maximum efficiency and organization is essential. Wildeck material handling solutions provided the necessary components to facilitate the reduction in square footage. More importantly, by strategically locating the mezzanine, a “core” area for supplies was established close to manufacturing.

“The core location of the mezzanine maximizes our efficiency and keeps everything within easy reach,” says Terry Pridgen, Ferguson’s Plant Superintendent. “The easy access allows our operators to quickly switch over jobs while protecting and moving fragile box templates and cutting dies.”

According to Pridgen, the added space and efficiency provided by the Wildeck® mezzanine and VRC have provided numerous operational benefits:

  • Tooling storage for the converting machines, printing plates, and dies. These delicate items damage easily and are costly to replace. The mezzanine level protects and stores while the VRC easily transports material to the manufacturing level.
  • Space optimization. Economically, it is more advantageous to utilize existing overhead space. Mezzanines also qualify for accelerated capital equipment depreciation compared to the longer terms associated with permanent building improvements.
  • Central core location. In keeping with the organization’s philosophy, the improvements have kept necessary materials and components close to manufacturing area, thereby maximizing efficiency.
  • Time savings. Ferguson prides itself on organization, which reduces the amount of time on each job. The new process is one that anyone could learn with only one hour of training, and they don't have to rely on someone’s memory to locate specific materials.
  • Aesthetic appeal of the plant. This is an often overlooked benefit of Wildeck’s mezzanines and lifts, but to Ferguson Box, this is a huge advantage for their business. Ferguson Box frequently invites its “A-list” clientele to tour the facility.

The mezzanine stores several key production items, including thousands of cutting dies, which are templates for production (like cookie cutters). They tell the machines where, when, and how the boxes need to be cut and perforated. Delicate printing plates are also stored on the mezzanine. These two items are critical to their customers’ production and are easily damaged and prone to accidents.

The VRC material lift operates frequently every day. Tooling is stored up on the mezzanine and when the tooling technician pulls items for their production schedule, the items are brought down on the material lift. Some of the box cutting dies can weigh thousands of pounds so employees use a special cart to transport them onto the lift and to the machine.

The space below the mezzanine is also maximized to its fullest potential. There are several defined areas that contribute to the centralized “core” operation philosophy Ferguson Box embraces. By focusing on the different aspects of certain areas, it has dramatically increased the efficiency of operations like the maintenance shop, ink station, and film development.

Ferguson Box’s unique ink station allows the company to make its own ink. By having the ink on location, they are able to fill customer orders faster and reduce ink inventory.
“The location of the mezzanine factored into the location of the ink in our operation.” Pridgen explains. “With the ink isolated and organized, it is easy to determine the inventory, control costs, and analyze the amount used on each job.”

At this point, Ferguson Box operates efficiently with two shifts. First shift production is full with the existing schedule, there is still time available for growth. Growth does affect space utilization at this time, but when a new shift is added at some point, the space will be affected.

Terry Pridgen is extremely pleased with the combination Wildeck® mezzanine and VRC lift installed in Ferguson’s facility.

“The mezzanine and lift have provided our new facility with the space and efficiency we need to accomplish our goals,” says Pridgen. “We are able to have our dies and materials readily available for use on our equipment. As a result, we are able to maximize our efficiency in an organized fashion, and that greatly adds to our bottom line.”

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