Located in Draper, Utah, Ortho Development is renowned for manufacturing surgically implantable hip and knee replacements for domestic and international distribution. With annual growth rates of 24%, the company had already reconfigured its original warehouse, particularly by condensing to narrow aisles and expanding vertically to 22-foot-high racking.
“To access that material, we needed to get pickers or lifts because ladders were not practical,” says Matt Hines, inventory and production manager at Ortho Development. “They were not feasible, and they weren’t safe for people going up and down, having to pick anywhere from 10 to 20 pieces.”
As a result, Ortho Development purchased three stockpickers. However, their maintenance costs were unavoidable over time, as various repairs were necessary. And, due to its sustained growth, Ortho Development soon needed more space. So, the manufacturer decided to double its square footage by leasing a second building and moving the entire warehousing operation into it. In turn, manufacturing could add additional capacity while also having the ability to maximize efficiency at the warehouse.
In late 2018, as Ortho Development prepared to move into its new warehouse, the manufacturer considered acquiring additional stockpickers to service it. But this plan soon changed, as a local distributor recommended a demo of an electric forklift provider’s task support vehicles (that combine attributes of elevating work platforms, orderpickers and tuggers) instead.
“I had the demo dropped off and, by the end of that day, I knew it was what I wanted. The price range was very competitive, if not better than what I was paying for the [stockpickers],” Hines says. “The [task support vehicles] are smooth when I drive up at the top level, they don’t waver at that height [and they’re] very sturdy machine[s], as solid as if you were driving at ground level with them.”
He continues, “We bought two right then, [put] them on order and had a PO in 24 hours. A month after we [came] here, we ordered a third one.”
The manufacturer’s two task support vehicles were purchased at the end of the first day of an in-house dealer demonstration.
“[They] work well with our set up because our racks go to 22 feet and we use every square inch going to the top. Our aisles are 42 inches apart, so I want to be able to take a lift and go up and down the aisle and pick from either side,” says Hines. “[They’re] smooth when you drive [them]. [They’re also] quiet, and [they] just work great for us.”
Ortho Development currently measures success with its task support vehicles through increased picker productivity, in particular. This rise in productivity has been directly attributed to the task support vehicles’ up time, battery run time and ease of use. And their highly accurate and intuitive steering allows operators to easily maneuver them in tight aisles.
“I will buy [a task support vehicle] any chance I get,” Hines stresses. “I anticipate we are going to need at least two to three more in the next year to two years.”
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