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2011 WERC Conference - TGW Presentation

“Fastenal Mini-load System Leads Transformation of Distribution Center”


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“Fastenal Mini-load System Leads Transformation of Distribution Center”

Adam Florin – Distribution Efficiency Manager – Fastenal
Robert Rienecke – Integrated Systems Sales Manager – TGW

The Fastenal Company has been experiencing significant growth over the past several years. Their strategy of "Growth Through Customer Service” was being challenged. So they asked themselves, what technologies they will need to maintain their excellent “Customer Service” reputation.   

In 2007 the CEO, Will Oberton, visited a Phillips site in England. He saw how mini-load technology can offer benefits for material storage and delivery.  Fastenal decided to evaluate if mini-load technology would be a solution for one of their DC’s  in Denton Texas. Fastenal then contracted with TGW to evaluate the feasibility of Mini-load systems.

The Study showed that Mini-load systems would in fact provide great operational benefits. Because of the variety of products and sizes and weights at Fastenal, it was determined that a tote system would work best. Fastenal designed and installed an eight aisle mini-load system in 2008 at the Denton TX DC. Today’s mini-load system at the Denton Texas DC has 30,000 storage positions and delivers 900 totes/hr. to picking operations.  The system stores and retrieves 10,000 sku’s in the storage system.

The Fastenal Indianapolis Distribution facility was selected as the main DC to supply regional stores and the other DC’s as well. The success at their Denton Texas DC determined that they could use the mini-load technology in a high density storage facility at Indy. The system would:

  • Deliver totes to picking operators as required
  • Provide a path for pick totes to visit multiple pick cells (both old and new)
  • Induct Replenishment totes to the new mini-load solution from unit load storage system and inbound receiving
  • Allow totes to pass from the existing 16 Pick Cells to the new 16 Pick Cells (and visa versa)
  • The system had to have the capacity to handle two different size totes
  • Provide system redundancy
  • Maximize system uptime

The Indy DC initially installed a 12 aisle mini-load system to handle the existing 140k sku’s. Phase II expanded the system to include 13 more aisles of mini-load.

The results of the implementation of mini-load systems at the Indianapolis DC were:

  • Decreased warehouse cost per item by 33%
  • Calculated a 29 month ROI and expect better