Pallet racking solves the space problems of clothing wholesaler SanMar in its distribution centre in Dallas

Pallet racking solves the space problems of clothing wholesaler SanMar in its distribution centre in Dallas

The SanMar warehouse expands with pallet racking set up for both pallets and boxes on shelves


Recently, SanMar has expanded eastward with the opening of a new distribution centre in Dallas (Texas). The project to equip this warehouse was headed by RH Brown, specialised in conveyors and integrated turnkey storage solutions, who, in turn, benefited from a strong business partnership with Interlake Mecalux (IKMX) for everything related to racking.

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About SanMar

SanMar is a clothing wholesaler based in Seattle that started out distributing t-shirts in 1971.

This family company specialises in comfortable street and sportswear, as well as accessories for all types of community groups, sports teams or promotional companies, among others. It currently employs 3,500 people and has eight distribution centres in the United States.

Nationwide synchronisation of all its centres is a pivotal business practice at SanMar. Therefore, it is the company's headquarters who establishes work hours, not its regional distribution centres. Above all, this company values efficiency and punctuality in order to be a successful business. For this reason, there is more movement in the afternoon, once the day's orders have been placed, and the personnel work knowing that each shipment exits the dispatch dock at the right time. That efficiency and the on-time deliveries are added values that customers appreciate.

In addition, the wholesaler’s growth model is worth mentioning, which not only made it possible to extend the business from the state of Washington to Texas, but even branch out into Florida. The popular demand for its products by an ever-increasing number of customers, who rely on the quality of its technical garments or appreciate the design and variety of models, is proof of the company's success.

Needs of the customer

With business on the rise, SanMar realised that it needed to amplify the surface area of its warehouse.

Staying on track with its current workflow, its goods arrive in lorries, which are then distributed according to locations. For example, the red shirts go with red ones; black sweaters with black ones, and so on. As the product is extracted and deposited in the locations, it is repalletised according to SKU.

Whether the item in question is a size XXL neon-green polo shirt or a medium-sized plain white t-shirt, this fast turnaround means each SanMar distribution centre must have enough stock to facilitate their rapid, less than a day dispatch. To achieve this, almost the whole product line had to be stored on-site, so the centre had to grow both upwards and outwards. In addition, this wholesale distributor specified that the new facility needed to be organised around their products, and business operations should not be interrupted during expansion.

Therefore, it was crucial for SanMar to have a partner like RH Brown to assume control of all project phases and coordinate all the participants, without affecting the company's daily activity. SanMar needed a warehouse that would allow increased storage capacity and speed up the picking process.

The solution: pallet racking

It was evident that the SanMar installations in Dallas (Texas) and Jacksonville (Florida) had become too small, and more space was needed to respond to the wholesaler's growth with a turnkey project.

The centre SanMar owned in Dallas was a 27,800 m2 building where it was impossible to handle the massive flow of goods. Consequently, they moved to a new, twice as large location, to allow the development of more fluid and streamlined operations. On the other hand, it had to coordinate the design of the installation, the arrival of materials and the installation of the racks all in tandem with the construction of the building, which was no easy task.

RH Brown relied on Interlake Mecalux as the racking supplier. When designing the installation, the storage solutions specialist took into account SanMar's business objectives, as well as other factors, such as storage capacity, the dispatch range, the number and volume of SKUs, among others.

The result is a storage solution with almost 12 m high pallet racks set up to store both pallets and boxes on mesh shelves.

These racks are characterised by their versatility to accommodate pallets of different sizes and turnovers, and for providing direct access, which affords flexibility in managing the goods and facilitates absolute stock control as each location is earmarked for a specific pallet. Operators work using reach trucks for handling the goods in this type of racking. Pallet racking allows direct access to each SKU, safely storing the maximum number of unit loads in an organised manner

The SanMar installation in Dallas received a major picking area for mass product storage or picking of whole boxes. Part of the racking is set aside for full pallets, while the rest is allocated to half-full pallets and a residual space to individual boxes.

Interlake Mecalux: nothing but advantages
Another strong point of Interlake Mecalux is its production capacity and the number of regional distribution centres it owns, from which it can ensure the supply of material in terms of volume and delivery within the agreed upon deadlines.

As a result, IKMX might be able to finish the two SanMar centres –the one in Dallas and the one in Jacksonville– simultaneously, although, initially, both construction projects should not have coincided.

With the installation up and running, SanMar noted almost immediately how their efficiency and response time rose exponentially.

Today, this clothing wholesaler has quadrupled orders compared to the old Dallas installation, an achievement that can be explained in part by the scaled-up storage space. The refined use of the space, the excellent design and the robust racking have helped improve SanMar's warehouse operations, ensuring timely delivery of all orders.

Advantages for SanMar

  • Improved efficacy: the new facilities allow extremely quick product inputs and outputs to be carried out throughout the SanMar network of distribution centres in the USA.
  • Safety & storage: the structural design engineers have developed a storage solution capable of supporting up to fully loaded pallets.
  • Product control: a warehouse under control means having a product located, organised and updated within inventory in real-time.
A new distribution centre in Dallas for SanMar
Installation type: pallet racking
Racking height: 12 m
Racking depth: single and double
Previous surface area: approx. 27,800 m²
Current surface area: 65,000 m²

Products used in this project

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