Seven years ago, hydraulic components manufacturer Hydac Corp. (Bethlehem, PA), set out on an ambitious growth plan with the goal of doubling its business. Since that time it has met this goal, and then some.

Equally impressive, the company has been able to accomplish this increase without having to expand the square footage of its manufacturing plant, thanks to some forward thinking by Hydac management.

Part of that thinking included a redesign of the company's storage facilities. Managers knew that as the plant's output grew, it would need to stock a greater diversity of parts as well as turn those parts over more quickly. However, the existing storage area was already full to capacity. At the time, the 60,000-square-foot facility incorporated a fixed racking system with mezzanines on top for storage. Expanding these fixed racks would require more floor area than the plant could spare.

To solve this problem, and create a system with increased flexibility for meeting future needs, Hydac installed a STAK automated storage and retrieval system from Stanley Vidmar Storage Technologies (Allentown, PA). This system, which requires just one employee to operate, incorporates a built-in lifting and handling device that uses adjustable pallets to maximize storage density.

In all, Hydac installed 10 STAK systems. Initially, each of the STAK systems' 16-foot-high columns came with just four shelves, leaving plenty of vertical space between them. However, as inventory grew, Hydac was able to accommodate the increased number of parts simply by installing additional shelving in each column. This increased density, and the fact that the aisles between the columns don't have to be wide enough for fork lifts, has let the plant squeeze more parts into less space. As a result, the system uses about half the space required by the previous rack-and-mezzanine system.

Ultimately, Hydac found that the increased density has left room for even more STAK systems, should they become necessary. Eventually, the plant could triple its storage capacity in the same floor area used by the old system.

"The STAK System is very versatile," says Hydac Operations Manager, Mike Rooney. "It's a great way to get into high-density storage."

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