Storing and manually locating over 60,000 aircraft parts was space and time intensive for Continental Airline's maintenance facility in Newark, N.J. Moving almost half of this small-parts inventory into six Modula vertical lift modules (VLMs) made the best use of the vertical space in the hangar, saved 97% of floor-level storage space, and improved inventory control.
The VLMs save time by creating six parts-supply stations in a relatively small footprint, as opposed to the large area previously required for the walk-and-search method used with static shelving. The maintenance facility not only realized space savings but also found the parts were more secure and remained cleaner than with the previously used shelving.
The Modula VLMs, supplied by FKI Logistex White Systems, stand 32-ft high, each holding up to 113 parts trays. The trays hold up to 180 individual parts with a total live load of up to 550 lb. Customizing each unit with varied tray pitches and divider spacing provides better parts organization and inventory control for the 27,000 different parts stored in the Modula VLMs.
When a mechanic requests a part, the item is entered into the airline's inventory-management system and a pick ticket is generated. The operator walks the short distance to the VLM and enters the tray number using the touch-screen monitor. The Modula VLM quickly locates the correct tray and slides it out to the workstation. Using the letter and number labels on the VLM, the operator identifies the cell location, picks the part, and verifies the part number indicated on the pick ticket.
Once the part is picked, it is brought back to the computer terminal where an entry is made removing it from inventory. The part may be used in that facility or delivered to other hangars for use in planes at these facilities or at the gates. Time is a critical factor since there could be 280 passengers sitting at the gate waiting for a part to be installed.
Stock is replenished by removing the tray from the VLM onto a transport cart and wheeling it to the receiving area. When returning the tray to the VLM, the cart is aligned to the workstation using floor guides and guide pins.
White Systems Inc.