Tolerances tight in racking at UNR’s Knowledge Center |

Tolerances tight in racking at UNR’s Knowledge Center

John Seelmeyer

Warehouse Equipment Solutions Inc. has installed warehouse racking and conveyor systems throughout the United States, but nothing like its current job at the University of Nevada, Reno, campus.

The job at UNR’s new Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center, just a few miles from WESI’s headquarters in south Reno, demands precision that would be unheard-of in a traditional warehouse job.

Each of the 12 rows of racks that WESI is installing in the lower level of the library stands 45 feet tall more than four stories by 106 feet long.

The tough part? Each must meet a three-millimeter tolerance, both vertically and horizontally. Three millimeters is about as wide as the printed width of these three letters: qwe.

Robert Johnson, president of WESI, explains that the network of racks is designed for the storage and automated delivery of bins of research material.

A student or faculty member will file a request for material with a librarian, who will punch in a code. One of six computerized cranes will travel through the racks, picking the bin of materials requested by the student and delivering it.

For the crane to reach the proper location, tolerances need to be tight.

But the close tolerances are only part of the challenges faced by WESI as it installs the European-designed system.

Just getting the scissor lifts that provide platforms for workers into the storage room was a headache.

A 12-foot by 18-foot opening at the rear of the Knowledge Center provides access, but the floor of the storage room is about 20 feet below the opening.

Teams from Bragg Crane were barely able to position cranes to lower scissor lifts and tons of steel for racks into the opening.

And because the room will be filled with racks when it’s finished, WESI executives have spent a lot of time making certain that they don’t paint themselves into a corner. They need to finish the job, still meeting the three-millimeter tolerances, while also leaving space to extract equipment from the room, explains Greg Draper, WESI’s project manager.

The 15-person crew on the job, provided by Integrity Staffing of Reno, began by drilling 3,500 holes in the floor of the storage room to support the racks. Those holes, too, needed to meet the three-millimeter tolerance.

The work that began in March is scheduled for completion in June.

Johnson, however, hopes the skills the company developed on the UNR job will create a new niche for WESI, and it’s chasing other automated library system jobs around the United States.

“We are aggressive, and we like a challenge,” he says. “It was exciting for us to take this on.”

Other contractors involved in the automated retrieval system include Nedcon, a Dutch firm that developed the automated storage and retrieval system; Coastline Equipment, H & E Equipment Services and Raymond Handling, which provided forklift and scissor-lift equipment, and Scoppa Texas Inc., which supervised engineering and installation.


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