BY DAVID MALONEY, CHIEF EDITOR
THE FIRST THING A VISITOR NOTICES AT RADWELL
International’s new operations and distribution facility
in Willingboro, N.J., is that the family-owned company
operates a bit differently than most industrial distributors.
Maybe it’s the 47 fish tanks in the complex, the largest being
500 gallons. (The company employs a full-time fish wrangler who’s charged with keeping the tanks spotless.)
Or maybe it’s the employee lunchroom, where tables
painted in bright Caribbean colors and adorned with beach
umbrellas sit alongside pingpong tables and videogame
consoles. Possibly all of these serve as distractions from the
decidedly daunting task of keeping track of a catalog of 22
million stock-keeping units (SKUs). Regardless, it looks like
a fun place to work.
But what may be one of the most interesting features
of the new facility is the state-of-the-art automated stor-
age system that allows it to handle the million or so parts
that account for most of its daily volume. Known as the
“AutoStore,” the automated storage and picking system
enables workers to pick nine or 10 products in the time it
takes to select one product manually.
A LITTLE BIT OF EVERYTHING
To understand the automated system’s significance to the
operation, it helps to know a little about Radwell’s business. Radwell International is a full-service supplier of new
and used industrial parts and components. Its products
include parts for automation, MRO (maintenance, repair,
and operations), motion control, electronic, pneumatic,
hydraulic, electrical, and HVAC (heating, ventilation, and
air conditioning) equipment. Its main customers are manufacturers, engineering wholesalers, and others tasked with
Tracking and handling millions of new and used industrial parts might sound like the ultimate
inventory challenge. But Radwell International’s automated storage system makes easy work of it.
22 million SKUs?