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Maximum Production, Minimum Space

June 13, 2008
Heavy-duty racks help a company to continue growing while maximizing the available production space, and minimizing die-storage space.
The heavyduty Steel King die racks provide the strength, capability, and flexibility to efficiently store even the largest dies where needed on the production floor.

Forging shops, like a lot of forming operations, must move dies in and out of storage on a daily basis. One plant that stores heavy dies between uses on the shop floor is an in-house stamping operation Greenheck Fan Corp., where efficient use of die racks has eased the strain of a growing operation.

Having doubled sales in the past five years to almost $500 million, Greenheck is one of North America’s top manufacturers of ventilation equipment, but continuous growth was straining the company’s main production facility, which supplies parts nationally.

“We not only had to ramp up production, but we also had to get leaner because we had limited production floor space,” explains Larry Toboyek, Greenheck’s manager of tooling and maintenance in Schofield, WI.

To streaml ine production and meet quality, cost, and delivery goals, Greenheck purchased larger, progressive- die stamping presses, and built larger dies in its in-house die center. This helped to transform production into an essentially continuous process. Storing the massive dies, measuring up to 88 ft., weighing up to 10,000 lb., was impossible on standard storage racks —which typically support loads of just 5,000-6,000 lb.

“We had to stack heavier, higher, and more f lexibly in die racks to meet our space and production requirements,” says Doug Baumann, a manufacturing engineer. “And the storage racks had to safely withstand potential abuse since many of our operators aren’t dedicated fork-truck drivers, but hop and on off between jobs. In our 24-hr operation, we couldn’t afford to deal with replacing damaged uprights, loose 24s or fallen load beams.”

Greenheck turned to Wisconsin Lift Truck Corp. (, a material handling and automated systems distributor, and Steel King ( an industrialdie rack and storage rack manufacturer. “Greenheck selected the die racks for their capacity, structural integrity, and ability to work well with the fork trucks we provided,” says Bill Netzel, the CAMH-certified capital equipment representative at Wisconsin Lift Truck who helped with the project.

Dies stored where needed
The heavy-duty Steel King die racks provided the strength, capacity, and flexibility to store even their largest dies efficiently, where needed on the production floor. “Because the racks are made of structural steel, with uprights of structural tubing and shelves of channel, they’re very robust,” says Baumann. “They allow us to safely store an extra 5,000 lb per rack beyond typical racks.” Completely welded bed frames with all beams and supports from front to rear welded into one assembly add to the structural integrity, while heavyduty 0.75-in. anchors and shims secure and level the racks.

In consultation with Greenheck and Wisconsin Lift Truck, Steel King provided standard-sized die racks for use with standardized sub-plates, allowing efficient die stacking and use of production floor space. For optimal storage flexibility, the shelves are removable from the uprights and the shelf heights are adjustable in 3-in. increments across their entire vertical height.

“Standardizing rack size at the required capacity not only enabled us to add more shelving but also to stack dies as high as our building height allows,” explains Toboyek. “That gave us the means to store our dies costeffectively, despite limited production floor space.” In addition, the die racks’ solid metal shelf design allows die placement anywhere on the shelf, and it can accommodate a variety of die sizes, allowing dies to be slid on or off a shelf for easy access and storage.

“We’ve added about 10 to 15% to our bottom line with the larger dies without adding any square footage to our stamping facility,” says Toboyek. The efficient, high-capacity die racks help make this possible, and should generate ROI within three years. They’ll pay for themselves many times over if they perform like some of our other Steel King racks, which have lasted decades and should last for decades more.”