When the Menasha Corporation approached Vidir about developing a vertical storage solution for their PrePrint division, they weren’t just looking for a quick way to load and unload sleeves for their printing operation; they were looking for an efficient and safe plan to store tooling that can weigh as much as 500 pounds. Initially, Vidir looked at existing carousel designs, but eventually decided on something with a quicker changeover. What they arrived at was a brand new vertical storage system designed specifically for laterally loading and unloading printing press sleeves and mandrels quickly and without risk of injury.
“We wanted to...develop a way to get our sleeves and mandrels off the floor, and it also was a safety issue to make sure that we didn’t have those mandrels or sleeves falling over,” says Dan LaChapell, PrePrint Area Manager. The risk of a falling domino effect as well as potential back injury from lowering long tooling to the floor posed too much of a risk to employees.
Every carousel is equipped with a safety curtain designed to cut power to the motors when crossed. Near and far obstruction warnings not only stop tooling from getting damaged in the carousel’s movement, but also prevent worker injury by maintaining an outside sensor barrier.
Automation also provides Menasha with much more organized storage. With pre-set locations for sleeve and mandrel sizes in place, finding the right item is easy. “Prior to the carousels, we had all the sleeves standing on end,” says plate mounter, Laura Nelson. “We had to try to keep all the different sizes in straight rows because it was not easy to tell the difference. Once we received the carousels...everything was organized. All the sizes stayed in a row, so we knew exactly what position to go to.”
The carousel’s easy, automated operation also speeds up production. Instead of searching through vertically stacked sleeves and mandrels for the correct size, workers at Menasha can select the right tooling simply by cycling the carousel to it and sliding it onto a forklift.
When Menasha first requested a solution, Vidir looked at one of their existing carousel designs, but found that it would be inefficient for Menasha’s operation, so they went to a center-driven, cantilevered design. This provided maximum storage capacity while also presenting the tooling to workers accessibly by keeping the carousel ends open.
This new solution also enabled Menasha to make use of more vertical space. The carousel “offered us the utilization of the total cube space within our warehouse facility,” according to David Schmidt, the Purchasing and Logistics Manager at Menasha PrePrint. By lifting tooling off the floor, the carousel system is able to use a lot more vertical space while maintaining a small footprint.
Through Vidir, Menasha PrePrint has reduced the risk of workplace injury while increasing the efficiency of their printing press tooling changeover. The added speed, safety, and organization of an automated, specifically tailored storage solution brings a huge all-around improvement to the operation.
“Our outside storage costs would have been much greater without this [product,]” says Schmidt. “It’s been a very dependable product. We’ve had very few problems in the daily use...and we’re very encouraged by the technical and service group at Vidir.”