Improving Efficiency in a Cold Storage Warehouse

Abnormal Beer | San Diego, California

High-density storage with bluetooth technology saves time and doubles a brewery’s capacity.

A Small Brewery that Thinks Big

The Abnormal Beer Company has built a reputation around creative collaboration and new approaches to complex challenges. The business began as a small winery and is now a 10-barrel brew house with 440 barrels of fermentation capacity. The company does all production on site at its unique brewery / winery / restaurant facility while housing its barrels, kegs, and cans in a nearby warehouse.

The warehouse, which includes a 15,000-cubic-foot cold box, is a key component of the company’s growth strategy. Optimizing space in the cold box has allowed the company to operate more efficiently and rent cold storage space to other breweries.

Optimizing space in the cold box was a key aspect of the brewery’s growth strategy.

beer distributor storage before

BEFORE: Inefficient storage made acess difficult.

beer distributor storage after

AFTER: High density shelving maximizes space and improves accessibility.

A Space-Saving Solution

At 60 feet long, 48 feet wide, and 21 feet tall, the cold warehouse space is expensive to maintain at temperature. As they were thinking about how to configure the interior, staff wanted to use the space as effectively as possible to produce a good return on their investment.

Simply stacking pallets wasn’t an attractive option. In addition to wasting space, they knew that moving pallets multiple times would result in lost time and difficulties with inventory tracking. “We were looking at that standard within the industry, to just literally put the pallets of kegs on the ground in the cold box and stack them, and we felt that would be a very time-consuming,” said warehouse manager Jeff Milton. “You’re going to be moving around a ton of stuff, you’re always going to need to get to that pallet in the back, and you’ll just keep moving things around.”

After consulting with the local Spacesaver representative, Milton and the rest of the team decided an ActivRAC® Mobilized Storage System would be the best solution. Mounting movable racking on rails would allow them to double the cold storage area’s capacity, from roughly 2,000 kegs to close to 4,000, and it would save time by offering convenient access to every pallet.

“Compared to standard racking we were able to double our pallet capacity.”

– Jeff Milton, Warehouse Manager

heavy-duty mobile storage pallet racking abnormal beer

Providing Fresh Inventory

Supplying fresh product is crucial, so inventory control is always top of mind. The ActivRAC system allows staff to easily stock, rotate, and pick kegs and other products.

“We need to make sure that we’re taking first in, first out,” Milton said. “This system allows us to do that. Each pallet has its own position, and each set of kegs has a date, so I just look up in the racks. I can look at the date and go, ‘Boom. That’s the one that I need’ and pull it out. And I don’t have to move around 20 different pallets to get to it.”

Minutes Add Up to Hours

As any warehouse manager knows, even the smallest efficiency gains can really add up over time. Although Milton was using a remote control for the ActivRAC system, its range was limited and Milton usually had to wait a few seconds when he needed an aisle to open.

After installing Spacesaver’s bluetooth-enabled app to open the aisles from a distance, Milton saw efficiency improvements right away. “Being able to be on the forklift and hop between aisles, utilizing my phone, made a big difference,” he said. “When I’m pulling out of my first aisle row, and I know that I need something from the second row, as I’m pulling it out of the cold box I can tell it to start moving. And while I’m loading our truck, the whole system’s already moving, so when I come back in I’m already on the row, ready to go.”

“As we all know in the commercial space, it’s really hard to gain large amounts of time. The important thing is getting small amounts: a minute here, a minute there, 30 seconds. Those things add up and in a year, all of a sudden you’re talking about hours that get saved.”

– Jeff Milton, Warehouse Manager

fork lift pallet heavy-duty beer storage

Bluetooth Benefits:

The ActivRAC system mounts pallet racking on rails to eliminate wasted space. Aisles can be opened with the press of a button, with remote control, or with the Spacesaver bluetooth-enabled app that offers:

  • Compatibility with iOS and Android Devices
  • Easy Set-Up Process (IT support not required)
  • Native Security
  • Direct Connection between Smart Device and ActivRAC (independent of system network)
  • Ability to Restrict Access based on Device’s Unique ID
  • Ability to Request a Credential such as PIN, Swipe, or Fingerprint
  • Searchable “soft” Directory/Index that Mimics Physical Labels
  • Tested Maximum Range between 80-100 feet

New Revenue

With the increased capacity and efficiencies gained with the ActivRAC system, Abnormal Beer has been able to rent out space to other breweries in the area, and even to its own distributor. This unexpected revenue stream is helping ensure the young firm’s financial stability while it continues to ramp up production.

“Increasing our capacity changed the way we do business and helped us grow. It gave us the ability to have future growth opportunity in the same space.”

– Jeff Milton, Warehouse Manager