A manufacturer from a complimenting product line reached out to us because their client had a need for a large deployment of custom racks. Their current supplier was unable to meet a difficult deadline and they were searching for alternate suppliers to propose to them. After finding Kendall Howard, we were able to design, and manufacture a solution within their required parameters.
Cisco, who is a leading manufacturer of network switches, servers and more, reached out to a sales rep here at Kendall Howard with a dilemma. They were working with the large chain retail store, on a multi location deployment to update their IT room. Cisco had spec’d servers that were too big for their current racks, and there for they needed new IT racks to accommodate the equipment. Over the last few months, the retail store had been working with a metal job shop, close to their headquarters to manufacture a custom rack. The retail store was having the racks deliver to the store, fully populated. This meant the racks would be heavy, and in most cases would require a fork lift or pallet jack to transport them from the loading dock of each store, to the IT room, which may or may not be on a different floor. However, the retail store does not allow fork lifts or pallet jacks to be used inside the store, or to go on the elevators. They also needed a rack solution that did not require to be shipped on a pallet, because they did not want to have the added waste (the pallet) to discard. Therefore, they needed a rack that could be shipped with out a pallet, but could be lifted off of a dock truck with a forklift or pallet jack, removed off of the forklift/pallet jack, and rolled through the store, possibly onto an elevator and into the IT room. From there the rack needed to be stationary and not on wheels. The biggest part of this challenge was that the employees could not lift the rack in anyway. In working with the local job shop, they were able to develop a solution, however they could only make them a few at a time. The retail store was looking to do a store refresh of 800+ locations, and the job shop would not be able to produce the racks in time.
Once we had the scope of the project – our first step was to evaluate the design that they were currently having made. They sent us pictures, and we worked with the retail store directly to develop any other features they may want to add, or any features they were not currently satisfied with. The engineers develop a solution to match their specs, and the retail store approved the concept. We adjusted the design to meet the manufacturing process needed to match their deadline, while also working within a budget scope. We collaborated and developed on a unique design that featured pallet jack locations in the bottom of the rack. This way the rack could be transported on and off of a loading dock truck without the use of a pallet. We also revised the roller feet concept the job shop had provided. Our concept had removable feet that stuck out, and casters attached. The casters could be lowered will a wrench, which lifted the cabinet off the ground, so that it could be rolled around. Once in place you could then lower the cabinet and remove the feet with the casters.
Once the conceptual design was approved by all parties – we prototyped the rack. This was sent to the retail store’s team for review. During testing at the retail store’s corporate site, the rack failed. The removable feet bent and deformed. They had specified a load rating of 200 lbs. We were shocked to hear that the rack failed this testing. We had run weight simulations here at Kendall Howard, and we were very puzzled because this shouldn’t have happened. We immediately got on a conference call with all involved parties, and discovered that their weight testing involved two gentlemen standing and jumping on the rack. We explained to them that this was not true environment testing, and if the spec needed to change to withstand a larger dynamic weight rather than a 200 lbs static weight, we would need to redesign. The retail store at that point decided to go back to the job shop to have the racks manufactured, since they felt we had failed. We were very disappointed but wished them the best, and told them were here for future needs.
A couple weeks later, the retail store came back to us with an even tighter deadline. The job shop had again told them there was no way for them to meet their deadlines. They also agreed that their testing measures weren’t “fair” to Kendall Howard. We all agreed we would make the feet stronger, and they agreed to test it to the environment for the second prototype. We quickly produced a second prototype, and it passed with flying colors.