Utility Fleet

Storage Solutions for Maintenance Facilities

November 2013, Government Fleet - Feature

by Thi Dao - Also by this author

At a Glance

For maintenance facilities short on space, there are storage solutions available:

● Tire carousels

● Parts carousels

● Vertical lift modules

● Mobile parts shelving.

The vertical lift module Montgomery County, Md., recently purchased stores about 3,200 parts numbers for the County fleet. An operator inputs a parts number, and the machine fetches it, depositing the tray in the access opening. Photo courtesy of Montgomery County.
The vertical lift module Montgomery County, Md., recently purchased stores about 3,200 parts numbers for the County fleet. An operator inputs a parts number, and the machine fetches it, depositing the tray in the access opening. Photo courtesy of Montgomery County.

When faced with space constraints at maintenance facilities, many fleets turn to devices that help maximize use of the space they have. Whether renovating a facility, undergoing new construction, or facing fleet expansion, there are storage solutions available that will help with space constraints at the facility — and they come with a few other benefits as well.

Beverly Hills: Tire Carousel Eases Technician Strain

When the City of Beverly Hills, Calif., was constructing its new maintenance facility in 2008, fleet staff found out the overall size of the new facility would be smaller than the previous one. Fleet management put in a request for a building of a specific size, but after the City negotiated with the contractor, the size was reduced both because the City wanted to reduce costs and because for a city encompassing only 5.7 square miles, there just wasn’t enough space to ask for more.

Craig Crowder, currently fleet manager for Beverly Hills, helped oversee the construction of the new facility in 2008, when he was fleet operations supervisor. One of the results of this facility size reduction was that the tire storage room, where staff stored tires ready for use, became much smaller. He explained the previous facility had wall racking for the tires and also held tire changers and maintenance tools.

“We put our tire racks in [the new room], and we thought, ‘Wow, we’re really hurting for space,’ ” Crowder said.

Fleet management thought a tire carousel it saw at a local dealership, if it could be constructed to fit the dimensions of the tire storage room, would be a solution to its problems.

The tire carousel at the City of Beverly Hills, Calif., allows the fleet to store up to 138 tires in a small footprint. The technician turns the carousel to floor level and rolls out the tire.
The tire carousel at the City of Beverly Hills, Calif., allows the fleet to store up to 138 tires in a small footprint. The technician turns the carousel to floor level and rolls out the tire.

After getting quotes from various companies, Crowder found J&D Associates. Crowder sent the company the room dimensions and received a $20,000 quote that included shipping and installation.

The tire carousel measures 13 feet, 10 inches high; 14 feet wide; and 6 feet, 6 inches deep. It has six carriers and holds tires up to 33 inches in diameter. Up to 138 tires will fit in the carousel, Crowder said. Traditional wall racks are still mounted in the room, holding bigger tires. To use the carousel, a technician inputs a code in the control pad and uses a switch to move the carriers up or down. Tires are grouped by size and marked by vehicle number, so the technician can find the tire quickly, move that carrier to the 7-foot high opening, and roll the tire out.

Crowder explained that new tire inventory is at another location farther from the parts room and repair bays. When technicians replace the tires that have been used, they take them from the other location, mount them, and charge them out before placing them in the tire room. This decreases downtime for the technician while completing a job, Crowder said.

In the five years the carousel has been in operation, Crowder said there haven’t been any problems. There have been, however, many benefits. Because the fleet can fit all the tires it regularly needs in the room, it increases productivity as technicians or parts personnel don’t have to get tires from the location farther away. It also reduces strain for technicians because they can roll out the tires in the carousel instead of lifting them off (and on) the wall racks. Of course, the biggest problem the carousel solved was the initial space issue.

“It allows us to store a [certain] amount of tires in a smaller footprint and still allow working space around that apparatus,” Crowder said.

For safety considerations, the opening in the front of the carousel is seven feet high but covered above that. Yellow caution tape in front of the opening reminds technicians to move out of the way if it’s in operation. Staff members lubricate the bearings about quarterly, when they clean up the tire room. Crowder said it hasn’t failed yet but if it ever does, an electrician in the facilities division could probably fix the issue.

 

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