The time has come to make a decision about your storage equipment. You have many options, but one over-riding important decision you need to make is whether to go with drawer storage cabinets or traditional shelving. Certainly, there are items that are well-served by the old stand-by, industrial shelves. But under most circumstances drawer storage cabinets are more ideal.
Cubic space utilization
It’s likely that there are limitations to the amount of space you can devote to storage at your facility, so you certainly want to make the most of the space you have. The fact is, drawer storage cabinets are much better at making full use of your available cubic space than shelves, particularly if you are storing small- to medium-sized items of irregular shape and size.
Traditional shelving can work fine for uniform, regularly-shaped items like stackable rectangular boxes, but there’s no flexibility when it comes to adding in items of different shapes and sizes. Even if they can be stacked, cubic space above these items is almost always wasted. Moreover, people typically store popular items along the front edge of the shelf, hiding and inhibiting access to items at the back of the shelf. Drawer storage cabinets are more ideal for irregularly-shaped boxes or items with irregular surfaces that can’t be easily stacked, like musical instruments. Plus, they allow storage in right-height drawers with full-height sidewalls. This in conjunction with drawers having full-extension capabilities means that the entire three-dimensional drawer space can be utilized–front-to-back, side-to-side, and top-to-bottom. One eye-level modular drawer cabinet can hold as much as three to four sections of shelving.
Moreover, the full use of cubic space with high-density modular drawer storage translates into maximizing available floor space, too. Consider what your company is paying for every square foot of storage space. Since three to four shelf units have about the same storage capacity as one cabinet, a switch to drawer cabinet storage can reduce needed square footage by as much as 100% - 400%. And space = money.
Featured case study: Corporate Jet Support
Corporate Jet Support (CJS) of Moonachie, NJ is a leading wholesale supplier of Gulfstream aircraft parts. Recently the company’s unmitigated success was creating a potentially debilitating problem in their storage warehouse. Simply put, says CJS owner Chris Breitweiser, “We ran out of room. We had grown out of our existing storage space and were forced to contemplate either moving or expanding our warehouse through expensive construction.” The problem, as it turned out, was not one of insufficient storage space; the available 10,000 square feet was more than adequate. The problem was a storage system that was not making the best use of that available space. CJS was relying on antiquated, conventional shelving and pallets to store its wide range of fast-moving aircraft parts.
CJS and Breitweiser purchased a full squadron of 250 shallow-depth modular drawer storage cabinets from LISTA, as well as two LISTA Storage Wall® Systems. CJS captured an additional 10 feet of vertical space by stacking two high-density cabinets on top of each other. LISTA custom-configured the drawer interiors using its flexible, modular dividing and partitioning accessories to accommodate the items CJS would be storing–everything from small washers to valves, generators, and actuators. Explained Breitweiser, “We were able to maximize the use of our warehouse height and maintain the flexibility to put thousands of items in a very limited area. We can now hold in one drawer what we previously were stored in three units of conventional shelving.”
Drawer interiors with easy-to-customize compartments are ideally suited for storing small loose items like nuts, bolts, washers, spark plugs, electrical components, and small instruments. These drawer compartments protect the items stored within them, can precisely match stored items by height, width, and depth, are easily barcode-labeled, and provide direct access and viewing.
The old industry standard way of storing these smaller items on shelves is to use a shelving bin, plastic box, or worse, an open or semi-open cardboard box. The plastic boxes and shelving bins are also pretty expensive. In fact, 10 or 20 boxes can equal the cost of the shelving unit itself, doubling your storage equipment costs. The boxes and bins are also impractical in terms of seeing and accessing the items you’re storing. The standard industrial shelf is typically 87" high with the top one or two shelves over a standing individual’s head. Therefore, seeing what is stored in the upper shelves is impossible without a ladder, and accessing the items is difficult and sometimes dangerous. If items are being stored in semi-opened containers, they can easily spill their contents from the upper shelf.
Comfort and ergonomics
There are a number of ergonomic advantages for employees working with modular drawer storage. Just as there is no reaching high for items on upper shelves, access to items stored near the floor is also much improved. When items are stored on the bottom shelf of a shelving unit, employees can find themselves on their hands and knees, awkwardly reaching for items and potentially straining backs and shoulders. With full-extension drawers, all items in all drawers are within easy reach.
Modular drawer storage lets you easily see your inventory right in front of you, so inventorying items becomes a much easier and more accurate task. On your shelf, items are going to get moved around, shifting away from assigned homes. Items are also much more likely to get lost on shelves, which leads to wasted inventory and/or stock-outs. Within a highly-organized modular drawer, each individual item has its own compartment and items are much less likely to get lost or misidentified. Also, as items can be viewed from the front of the drawer to the farthest back corners, visual accounting is easy. And order picking takes much less time, as well.
For added organization and easier inventory management, some manufacturers’ drawers have built-in label holders, and each compartment can be labeled. At LISTA, we offer a free download of a proprietary software labeling system that allows you to print SKUs, text, illustrations, and barcodes. Shelving usually does not provide for an efficient parts location system.
Another LISTA drawer storage customer, Bob Crete, Operations Manager and Parts Manager at Boston Volvo Village auto dealership, uses high-density drawer storage to house small-, medium-, and large-sized parts together and have easy access to all of them. Plus, parts management, order picking, and inventory taking have become much less daunting tasks. “Just in one month alone,” Crete said, “we moved over 18,000 pieces out of these drawers. In and out. And the process of restocking is a fraction of what it used to be. That’s how you gauge the value of your equipment.”
Improved protection and security
Modular drawer storage cabinets protect your valuable tools, parts, and other assets from environmental wear and tear. Items come out of the drawer looking as clean as when they went in. This is far from the case with shelving, with items often left out in the open where they can collect coatings of dirt, dust, and grime. Drawer storage can provide much greater security for valuable items, as well. Whereas shelving is by nature open and unlockable, cabinets are available with a range of locking options. Even within a locked storage room, additional locking systems on drawers can improve security and reduce shrinkage.
Rows of shelving units can divide a room into a series of dark, uninviting corridors, blocking out light and inhibiting airflow. Drawer cabinets are not only much more attractive to begin with, keeping stored items out of sight until the drawer is open, but their dimensions allow for a much better-lit storage area and improved ventilation. Better lighting and improved aesthetics can do wonders for your company’s professional image. These improvements can also work to boost employee morale, creating a safe, pleasant, and produc¬tivity-enhancing workspace.
Considering everything from space and cost savings to security, inventory control, lighting, and aesthetics, you will see that drawer storage cabinets are the more efficient and productive option for storing small and medium-sized items.Related Products: Drawer Storage Cabinets | Drawer Interiors Read Related Case Study: Corporate Jet Support