Fabiano Brothers Streamline Operation, Increase Productivity


Michigan News

Fabiano Brothers, Inc., has been a family-owned business since its inception in 1885. Established on a firm foundation of tradition and integrity, the company continues to thrive in the beverage distribution industry under the leadership of the fourth generation of the Fabiano family. With more than 125 years of experience, Fabiano Brothers remains the premier beverage distributor for central and northern Michigan as well as central Wisconsin.

Originally operating out of four facilities, the customer reached a turning point in its business when the decision was made to consolidate down to two facilities, totaling 390,000 square feet. The primary goal for the company’s 300,000 square foot headquarters was to maintain its annual beer sales of about eight and a half million cases. The secondary facility, devoted to the company’s wine division, would house about a half million cases. Overall, consolidating the four facilities would allow the company to optimize its space, increase lift truck productivity and embrace new technologies to accommodate its thriving business.

They were able to achieve these goals after turning to Andersen Material Handling, a Raymond authorized Sales and Service Center in Wixom, Mich., to help re-evaluate its facility operations and optimize its material handling needs.

Opportunities for optimization

Fabiano Brothers had significant productivity goals to achieve, best described as a two-pronged approach. First, the company wanted to enhance productivity for retail deliveries with its route trucks. Second, it wanted to enhance the productivity of the order picking process. The company also sought to implement lift trucks with ergonomic elements that would reduce stress on the lift truck operators. Andersen not only consulted on lift trucks, but also on the receiving, replenishment and racking the company needed. It was imperative that all these elements work together in harmony to achieve the desire for increased efficiency, cost savings and increased productivity.

Based on the sheer volume of trailers and 15 to 45 loads coming through the facility each day, Andersen made the recommendation to implement Raymond ® Model 4700 sit-down counterbalanced lift trucks with Cascade™ Single-Double Pallet Handlers. The double pallet handler attachments would allow operators to unload twice as many pallets from a truck at once — literally cutting the time in half. The ergonomic features of the Model 4700 counterbalanced trucks include an adjustable seat and steering wheel, comfortable operating position and easy-to-reach controls, helping contribute to more comfortable, productive operation.

The company also had the specific goal of doubling the productivity of its picking process by improving its picking capabilities to four carts per pick, rather than two carts per pick. Designed specifically for Fabiano Brothers, Raymond Model 8400 end-rider pallet trucks were engineered with a custom fork, which was narrower and longer than the traditional fork. These forks would have the ability to carry four retail delivery carts at one time. The forks would allow the company to perform order picking and loading functions at twice the rate than before.

To maximize efficiency of the equipment and best optimize warehouse space, Andersen suggested Raymond Model 4200 stand-up counterbalanced lift trucks. The sleek, narrow design and clear view mast on the truck would allow Fabiano Brothers to lift to greater heights, while maintaining full capacity, and maneuver through two-lane aisles with ease.

Putting equipment into action

Following the recommendations given by Andersen, Fabiano Brothers implemented three Raymond Model 4700 sit-down counterbalanced lift trucks with Single-Double Cascade attachments for receiving product, twenty Raymond Model 8400 end-rider pallet trucks with double-long forks for order picking, and four Raymond Model 4200 stand-up counterbalanced lift trucks for pick-path replenishment and loading delivery trucks. To further enhance integration, the Model 8400 trucks were designed to work ergonomically with the voice-picking system to increase efficiency for picking customer orders.

“This wasn’t a system that was developed overnight and put into place immediately,” says Ron Rau, operations manager at Fabiano Brothers. “We experimented with these pieces of equipment for a long period of time. When we built the new facility, we brought all the prior reformation from the past four years, consolidated and implemented it. Having tested everything from the lift trucks to the steel racking and voice-picking technology we felt very certain these systems would work together.”

Solid partnership

The performance and efficiencies Fabiano Brothers has gained from partnering with Andersen has given the company peace of mind. As a team, the companies came up with the best plan for Fabiano Brothers to function as efficiently as possible, save money and be more productive in its new space.

“Andersen has been a crucial component to the positive changes we’ve made to our facility,” says Tom Tuma, chief operating officer for Fabiano Brothers. “The systems and equipment we implemented have changed our systems, our mode of operation for delivery and the vehicles we use for each warehouse function. We have a much higher level of productivity per man hour, in both the picking and delivery processes. Plus, we addressed ergonomic issues by going into a different mode of delivery. Andersen played a role in all of that.”