Customized Storage Solution Improves Efficiency

Omaha Public Power District (OPPD) operates four baseload plants in the state of Nebraska. In 1993, when the North Omaha Station added a new warehouse, OPPD sought help from Vidmar to create effective storage solutions for small parts and large palletized items, as well as to provide ideas for general organization within the workspace.

About three years ago, OPPD began exploring and utilizing “lean” practices—a customer-centric methodology used to continuously improve any process—looking for ways to reduce waste and increase efficiency.

One of the first locations to use the process was the Elkhorn Service Center. OPPD reviewed inventory handling and storage procedures in its warehouse and instituted a number of changes. Results were tremendously successful, saving about $180,000 in the first year.

The outcome led to further reviews at other service centers and power generating plants, including at North Omaha Station. Lean teams looked at a variety of systems and examined many different options. After extensive evaluation, the company opted to install the STAK system manufactured by Vidmar (Figure 1). A deciding factor was OPPD’s previous experience with the supplier.

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1. A view of a storage area utilizing the STAK system. Courtesy: Vidmar

Working with Vidmar Territory Sales Manager Chuck Eacock, OPPD upgraded the shop and benefitted from a 70% space savings. The workbenches improved organization and the STAK system allowed for expansion as business needs grew. The cabinets were custom-built to fit the warehouse’s exact needs and specifications. Height, width, number of drawers, and drawer layouts were all custom-configured to maximize productivity.

“There are numerous operational benefits from the standpoint of having so many parts in a consolidated area,” said Chris L. Rush, who works in the North Omaha Stores Material Management division. “We can now organize the cabinets by application. Within each cabinet there is the opportunity for such an array of different configurations of drawers that we have not run into an issue that we can’t handle.”

The STAK adjustable racking system (Figure 2) improved workplace efficiency by providing ample storage space and the versatility to store a host of items, from the smallest computer component to the largest valve. Utilizing space saved by the Vidmar STAK system and cabinets, OPPD was also able to implement the use of pallet racking.

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2. A view of the adjustable racking system in use. Courtesy: Vidmar

“Now that we have proper storage, everything is consolidated into a smaller footprint, so there is less walking around, with stored parts always within easy reach and full view. This means an improved bottom line for Omaha Public Power and fast, effortless retrieval for the craft guys,” said Rush.

OPPD has hosted several tours for other facilities’ management personnel seeking insight on how customized storage products can improve work areas and make employees more efficient. Overall, the lean process—including use of the STAK system—has helped the company reduce waste, control costs, and make better use of inventory and materials. It is all part of an overall push to be more efficient and cost-productive throughout the company, which is now more important than ever.

“Every company wants to do more with less and make better use of its resources. We are no exception. The changes we have made have helped us do that,” said Rush.

Edited by Aaron Larson, a POWER associate editor (@AaronL_Power, @POWERmagazine).