What are some of the biggest
influences impacting material
Don Heemstra: Today’s shoppers
have an immediacy with which they
want to buy and receive products.
They are willing to go wherever they
need to in order to get what they
want, when they want it. Online
shopping has benefited greatly
from this trend and influenced the
way consumers think. Interestingly,
the e-commerce business model is
beginning to impact supermarkets.
We are seeing many chains under
pressure to compete with online
powerhouses such as Amazon.
What is Steel King doing to assist
retailers with this challenge?
Historically, the challenge for
distribution centers was to utilize
the most well-organized method of
moving large case-size shipments
to retailers. Today, the emphasis is
on efficiently and accurately fulfilling
smaller quantity, multiple-SKU orders
and accommodating direct-to-the-consumer order volatility.
To speed up fulfillment, distribution
centers (DCs) are being built near
densely populated areas. Smaller
footprint and taller DCs are being
constructed with more automation
to offset the higher cost of land.
Steel King has designed and built
free-standing and rack-supported
automated storage systems as high
as 120 feet.
Recognizing that one size does
not fit all, Steel King specializes in
designing customer-specific “pick
modules” and automated systems for
retail DCs. These large, rack-sup-
ported, multi-level systems maximize
efficiency within the DC by integrat-
ing miles of conveyors and gravity
flow rack systems to move product.
As a result, order accuracy increases
and congestion is reduced.
What would retailers be surprised
to know about Steel King?
While Steel King is primarily a
manufacturer, we sell more than just
rack components. Our focus is on
customer solutions. We offer a broad
range of material handling options
including industrial safety and
We employ a team of engineers
to identify and design for key details
such as loads, dimensions, lift trucks,
work flow and seismic factors to
optimize performance and avoid
unexpected changes once the manufacturing processes are underway.
What makes Steel King’s products
Among the products we offer, our
roll-formed racks are most sought
after, in part because of their versatility. Our closed-tube-design pallet
racking has become the industry
“gold-standard” for its robust design.
We use high-strength, U.S.-made
steel in our columns and beams,
which are then continuously welded
into closed tubular sections for
extraordinary strength and durability.
Within refrigerated environments,
Steel King’s hot-rolled structural rack
is popular. With thick steel components and bolted connections, this is
a very rugged rack. It is produced in
our own factories, which means we
control the quality.
At the factory, our racks are treated
with a durable and environmentally
responsible powder-coat finish. This
means that, unlike racks treated with
liquid paint, the racks arrive at the job-site fully cured with no possibility of
residual runny paint to damage floors.
What is new at Steel King?
Steel King is dedicated to developing ways to make our systems more
efficient, safer and easier to install.
For instance, our new Double Deep
Pallet Support provides a continuous smooth surface for double-deep
applications, making loading more
Safety accessories include a
Bolt-on Pallet Load Stop, which
prevents loads from being pushed off
the back of a rack, and Column Core
– an insert for roll-form rack, which
strengthens columns by four times,
used in rack sections especially
susceptible to fork lift impact.
Additionally, to meet the increased
demand for its SK2000 roll-form
product, we have nearly doubled the
size of our New London, Wis. plant.
The new plant allows us to meet
shorter lead times without compromising on quality.
Custom work is the heart of what they do at Steel King, says Don Heemstra,
vice president of sales.