Growing business expands without moving

Australian Truck and Auto Parts (ATAP) is a privately owned Australian company, established in 1981. As Australia’s largest undercar components supplier, ATAP is responsible for supplying clutch, brake, cooling, service and suspension components to a variety of workshops nationally. Importing, manufacturing, warehousing and distributing over 68,000 parts, ATAP guarantees “same day delivery” which requires their goods storage and handling practices to be impeccable.

The Challenge

ATAP was awarded a new contract for supply which required an additional 2,000 Stock Keeping Units (SKUs) to be added to their inventory in Queensland. Their Archerfield Distribution Centre (DC) stored tens of thousands of SKU’s meticulously categorised in a space seemingly at capacity. Moving to accommodate the additional stock lines would be a monumental task so ATAP decided to consult storage experts throughout South East Queensland to offer advice for expansion without moving, and to tender on a major storage revision in their operating DC.
Elbowroom began by analysing the business structure and required outcomes from stakeholders. The design team under instruction from the assigned ATAP project engineer studied the DC’s current stock movement and anticipated growth before offering various options to increase both floor space, storage capacity, retrieval accuracy, operating speed and workplace safety.

Innovation Delivers Success

After review of the tenderers’ proposals, ATAP awarded the contract to Elbowroom as their approach was innovative and their unique company structure could guarantee unparalleled project management, which was a priority for ATAP who would be operating daily business in the same building whilst works were occurring.

The entire works process was scheduled over four consecutive months to enable ATAP to continue operating, unhindered and at full capacity for the duration. The existing layout was typical of a spare parts DC, utilising a combination of bulk storage pallet racking and a large installation of heavy duty industrial steel shelving. To suit various shapes and sizes of stock, the shelving was compartmentalised in specific ways to give bulk density.

The scope of works for ATAP’s expansion included facilitating the unloading of stock from picking areas, relocation of a portion of the steel shelving, design, supply and installation of a fully compliant medium duty Raised Storage Area (RSA). This included Longspan shelving incorporated into the RSA frame structure below, integrated powered belt conveyor for mezzanine access, manual pallet gate for bulk loading of floor stock and reassembly of steel shelving on the first floor of the RSA. 

Elbowroom’s actual process was not unlike the proposed works schedule, however, some minor alterations were made along the way to accommodate fluctuations in ATAP’s order processing. During the installation of the RSA and decline conveyor, advice was provided on how to improve the overall safety of existing mezzanine areas and planning for future stages was also discussed. 

Integrating lighting into the picking area beneath the RSA and commissioning the powered conveyor, involved additional specialists such as licensed electricians. ATAP and Elbowroom worked together throughout the cross-discipline project to ensure expectations of the key stakeholders were met without compromising any of the critical daily processes.

ATAP continues to excel in distribution from their redeveloped facility in Archerfield, fully utilising the entirety of the new storage systems. Elbowroom ensured another successful outcome through co-operation, asking the right questions to begin with and understanding the business and its desired outcomes before any works began. Excellent communication throughout the project was paramount and working through the project management plan alongside the client’s ever changing dynamics, kept steady and positive movement through to project completion.

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