How Global Industrial® And UNEX® Partner To Serve Made-to-Order Efficiency
Recently, Global Industrial® partnered with the space optimization specialists at UNEX® to build efficiency-boosting solutions for HelloFresh. This partnership not only enhanced daily operations at one of the mail-order meal kit company’s packing facilities, but the UNEX engineered-to-order rollers, racks, and conveyors—along with Global Industrial’s consultative services—also allowed the HelloFresh team to reimagine its space and boost its productivity.
Better Together: The Global Industrial® and UNEX® Partnership
Material handling vendors typically serve as the de facto experts in their respective fields. Global Industrial® and UNEX, however, recognized the benefits of joining forces to propose fresh perspectives and creative ideas to better solve their customers’ challenges.
For more than 70 years, Global Industrial® has been leading the way as a value-added national distributor of industry-leading products, including packing and shipping supplies, storage and shelving, and material handling equipment. Our business model also helps businesses navigate the supply chain by providing customer-centric solutions across a wealth of industries, including retail, manufacturing, education, food service, and healthcare.
Founded in 1964, UNEX works with its customers to make the most out of their existing spaces by providing solutions such as patented carton flow designs, conveyor products, custom workstations, and high-density storage.
As a true consultative partner to our customers, Global Industrial® collaborates with some of the best companies in the industry on tailor-made solutions. These partnerships save our customers time vetting products and give them access to trusted solutions that maximize their operational efficiency.
Our collaboration with UNEX began in 2004 and accelerated in 2014 and 2015. We strengthened our partnership during the COVID-19 pandemic to help our customers balance increased demand with a dwindling supply chain. As two major material handling players, Global Industrial® and UNEX work with many one-size-does-not-fit-all customers. One of those customers is HelloFresh.
Partnership in Practice: The HelloFresh Challenge
Founded in 2011, HelloFresh is a Berlin-based meal-kit provider that has since expanded to several countries and become a top meal-kit business in the U.S., with facilities across the country. Between 4 million and 6 million customers worldwide regularly order HelloFresh meal kits, so the company needs agile solutions to serve its subscribers.
The meals the company offers change on a weekly basis, with more than 20 choices each week, and its facilities needed to add more lines. Global Industrial® and UNEX helped with expansion as the company continues to grow.
“The products weren’t flowing down the line smoothly. We had wire structures with lots of angles and various racks. There weren’t any rollers, so team members had to manually push the cartons down while pickers had to pull the boxes forward,” said Valerie Clements, manager, industrial engineering, at HelloFresh.
As new HelloFresh offerings are presented to customers, the engineering team looks to see if they will work with the current flow cell designs. If they don’t, HelloFresh turns to Global Industrial® and UNEX to design a new line as the offering expansion grows.
With as much variety as HelloFresh offers, it’s critical to have picking, assembling, packing, and shipping running as smoothly as possible. “When HelloFresh makes a decision to offer something new for customers, my team has to be ready to make that happen,” Clements said.
Customizable configurations that let the HelloFresh team assemble meal kits for any given week are key to keeping up with that demand. That’s where UNEX and Global Industrial® come in. The dynamic material handling duo partnered to provide not only the products HelloFresh needed, but also the strategy and layout options to successfully implement a flexible production line.
Global Industrial® managed the timelines and supported deadlines for both HelloFresh and UNEX to help these changes come to fruition without disrupting the facility’s daily production.
“In working closely with the team members at HelloFresh, we understood the complexity, and more importantly the need, to provide the right solution that would drive the efficiency gains without disrupting the current operations,” said Donald McKenna, vice president of sales at Global Industrial®. “We knew production could not stop, so we had to ensure the materials were ready and delivered on time to keep pace with the installation team. We worked closely with UNEX every step of the way to ensure every expectation HelloFresh had for this project was met.”
Space-Saving Solutions: Efficient Outcomes
Precision is key to each step of the meal kit-building process. Premeasured dry goods like pastas and seasonings, along with perishables like meat and eggs, get added at set points in the process in order to successfully produce a meal kit.
Ensuring that process happens efficiently while maximizing space in the facility can be a challenge, however.
UNEX’s FlowCell modular carton flow racks alleviated this production-line headache by bringing flexibility and greater ease to how meal kits are assembled. The industrial-strength carton flow racks support up to 1,000 pounds per level, making them ideal for storing high-volume ingredients. Housed inside the racks, UNEX’s SpanTrack gravity rollers allow products to flow smoothly along the line, creating an ergonomic solution for workers who no longer have to lean over to pick up product in order to quickly pack boxes. SpanTrack also can be used to create return lines for empty boxes so replenishers can lift them with ease, Clements said.
UNEX found that its FlowCell technology can help companies increase space utilization by as much as 50% while boosting productivity up to 30%. FlowCell’s modular construction and ease of installation also meant there were no glitches or interruptions to production while it was being implemented. “We set up the line where kits are built and then followed the line all the way down with our FlowCell product,” said Jay Cox, director of sales for UNEX. “We tried a few things—different roller types, rails, and heights to get the configuration exactly right.”
FlowCell enabled the HelloFresh team to cut the length of the lines in half, Clements said, allowing them to expand kitting capacity across all sites. “We’re all about providing customers with wholesome, fresh food,” Clements said. “The racking system helps keep our centers clean and organized to help deliver on that promise.”
The space-saving initiative was such a success that HelloFresh now uses the UNEX technology in their facilities nationwide. As a collaborative partner, Global Industrial® continues to provide support for additional supplies and parts that HelloFresh may require to maintain efficient operations.
“We pride ourselves on being able to offer comprehensive solutions to our customers’ complex needs. With over 70 years of experience in the MRO industry, we’re able to not only supply everyday products required to keep a facility running but also complex solutions to improve operational efficiency,” Global Industrial’s McKenna said. “So, when HelloFresh expressed the need to increase capacity in their assembly process, we knew UNEX would be the right partner to accomplish their goals. We have been working with HelloFresh for years and are excited to continue providing products and solutions to keep their operations growing.”
A Step Beyond Assembly: Future Collaboration Opportunities
Global Industrial® and UNEX recognize that most operations are not one-size-fits-all. That’s why both companies have partnered to offer a wealth of custom solutions for a variety of industries that span well beyond food service and manufacturing. Other opportunities for collaborative solutions tailor-made to your needs include pallet racking, shelving and racking systems, mezzanines, modular offices, high-density storage, and conveying.
Look to Global Industrial® for a wide range of supply, manufacturing, and retail products that can help any business in any industry maximize space. Global Industrial’s consultative services also include trusted experts who help our customers meet any challenge they face. By working with Global Industrial® and partners like UNEX, your business can benefit from some of the industry’s best minds.
Contact Global Industrial® today to see how our consultative services can transform your operations.
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