Warehouse moves into modern day automation

Photo by MCpl Carbe Orellana, MARPAC Imaging Services

Photo by MCpl Carbe Orellana, MARPAC Imaging Services

Peter Mallett, Staff Writer ~

CFB Esquimalt’s Base Logistics has installed a sophisticated storage and retrieval system at its main warehouse in Colwood that whittles down finding a part to mere seconds.

Vice Admiral Ron Lloyd, Commander of the Royal Canadian Navy, was on hand to snip the ribbon at Colwood 66 on May 3, unveiling the Kardex Remstar Shuttle 500.

The Vertical Lift System (VLS), he said, is a technological innovation that will greatly enhance both the speed and efficiency of the supply chain across the Pacific Fleet.

“When you are down range in your ship and you need something quickly, being able to get that part is where readiness really stands,” said VAdm Lloyd.

The cubed-shaped storage retrieval system measures just 600 square feet but can store approximately 40,000 of the warehouse’s small volume goods. Those items are currently stored on towering shelving units accessible by ladders that occupy a footprint of 6,000 square feet.

The arrival of the Vertical Lift System took 15 months from planning to execution, which is a record-breaking timeline for the implementation of this first-of-a-kind CAF capability, says Commander Sam Sader, Commanding Officer of Base Logistics.

“VLS is a huge game changer and a complete transformation of the way the RCN does business because its magnitude for efficiencies is really at least tenfold in everything it does,” said Cdr Sader. “Adopting this new best-in-class technology not only optimizes the warehousing process to deliver parts faster to Fleet and FMF, it also makes warehousing systems more user friendly and safer for staff.”

In his address, Capt(N) Jason Boyd, Base Commander, commended the assistance of the projects partners including Real Properties Operations (Pacific), who made structural and construction upgrades in the warehouse to accommodate the new system; Base Information Services (BIS) and the Formation Command and Analytics Office, who provided technical and software expertise; and the purchasing and delivery responsibility that was executed by Public Service and Procurement Canada.

After cutting the ribbon, VAdm Lloyd, Cdr Sader, and Capt(N) Boyd were given a demonstration of the new system’s capabilities by BLOG warehouse staff.

After doing a search of an item they wanted via a computer database, they obtained a digitized stock code that was inputted into the VLS.

VLS then searched through its intricate system of color-coded shelves and compartments to collect and deliver the item along the rotating elevator system with stacked tray shelves inside the machine. It took less than 20 seconds for the package to drop into a small bin at the front of the machine for retrieval, a process that would normally take over 10 minutes.

After completing the demonstration, a surprise was in store for VAdm Lloyd. That came when a second item was chosen for the demonstration. This time when he reached into the bin, he pulled out a small commemorative plaque from BLOG staff, with an inscription that thanked him for his “unwavering support in the modernization of the Canadian Navy’s supply chain.”

In the coming months, Base Logistic warehouse staff will continue to train on the system and catalogue into it the tens of thousands of inventory items.

Filed Under: Top Stories

About the Author: The Lookout Newspaper can trace its history back to April 1943 when CFB Esquimalt’s first newspaper was published. Since then, Lookout has grown into the award winning source for Pacific Navy News. Leading the way towards interactive social media reach, we are a community resource newspaper growing a world wide audience.

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  1. Chris Carnall says:

    So my one question would be….when do the layoff of people who are employed in Bldg 66 start?

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