May 17, 2020

The warehousing case for a pallet rack work platform

Supply Chain Digital
Warehouse Management
Freddie Pierce
3 min
Northwest Petroleum Service quadruples its storage space and streamlines logistics with a rack supported work platform
By Carlo Chatman The longer a successful manufacturer, distributor or service installer remains in business, the more legacy equipment and parts they m...

By Carlo Chatman

The longer a successful manufacturer, distributor or service installer remains in business, the more legacy equipment and parts they must inventory to service existing customers. But as new products and parts get added over time, warehouse space can get increasingly cramped, and inventory picking and parts management can get less and less efficient.

Instead of constructing expensive new offsite warehouse space or building a mezzanine for an existing warehouse, a growing number of manufacturers, distributors and service installers are taking advantage of existing vertical warehouse space to essentially “build up and not out” with a rack supported work platform.

“After almost 40 years in business we were running out of space to efficiently store our new and legacy parts and materials, causing us to spend too much time looking for them when needed,” says Bob Fromm, General Manager at Northwest Petroleum Service, a full-line supplier, installer, and servicer of petroleum fueling equipment.


To offer system installation and 24-hour service for service stations, truck stops, airports, convenience stores, municipalities and industrial applications, Northwest Petroleum Service supplies everything from pipes, fittings, connectors, conduit and wiring, to circuit boxes, electronic boards, tank monitoring equipment and point-of-sale (POS) consoles.

“Like a messy garage, the longer you wait to get organized, the worse it gets,” says Fromm. “We had outgrown our existing warehouse's assorted pallet rack and hand-built shelving, but it was cost prohibitive for us to buy, lease, finance, or staff an additional off-site facility. Constructing a building supported mezzanine for extra space in our existing warehouse was too costly as well.”


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Rethinking the Pallet

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To support a mezzanine, the warehouse would need to be structurally engineered to meet building code. Operations would be disrupted during months of construction. Property taxes would rise because the mezzanine would become part of the permanent building structure. And any permanent mezzanine would be inflexible to future changes in product such as size, shape, or volume.

“We wanted to maximize our warehouse storage capacity, longevity, and flexibility with optimal cost and logistics,” adds Fromm. “We also wanted to keep high-value product, such as the POS consoles and electronics, more secure than our existing warehouse allowed.”

For help, Northwest Petroleum Service turned to Wisconsin Lift Truck Corp., a material handling and automated systems distributor. Recognizing unused vertical space in the warehouse, Tim Zunker, the Wisconsin Lift Truck project manager who helped with system integration, suggested a pallet rack supported work platform by Steel King, a leading manufacturer of material handling and storage racking products.

A pallet rack supported platform like Steel King's combines the storage capacity of industrial pallet racking with the benefits of a fully-decked elevated work surface.

To achieve this, pallet rack components are used to support a work platform above, with beam levels below for standard pallet rack storage. The upright frames can extend through the work platform floor to provide more storage levels above. Rack styles from hand-stack and push-back to carton-flow, pallet-flow, cantilever, and drive-in can be used, as can a variety of floor surfaces, stair types, hand rails, kick plates, gate types, and open or decked shelves.

“Not only is such a pallet rack supported platform less costly than buying or financing additional warehouse space, but it also simplifies meeting building code requirements”, says Zunker.

Because a rack supported platform is classified as a storage rack-work platform-not as a structural building change-it can avoid building code issues such as lighting, ventilation, size of stairs, distance to exit, and bathroom availability. As loads are distributed quite evenly across the racking, many times the existing floor slab can be used. Since a rack supported platform can be rearranged to suit future needs and is not considered a structural part of the building, it does not raise property taxes.

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Jun 21, 2021

Google and NIST Address Supply Chain Cybersecurity

Elise Leise
3 min
The SolarWinds and Codecov cyberattacks reminded companies that software security poses a critical risk. How do we mitigate it?

As high-level supply chain attacks hit the news, Google and the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have both developed proposals for how to address software supply chain security. This isn’t a new field, unfortunately. Since supply chains are a critical part of business resilience, criminals have no qualms about targeting its software. That’s why identifying, assessing, and mitigating cyber supply chain risks (C-SCRM) is at the top of Google and NIST’s respective agendas. 


High-Profile Supply Chain Attacks 

According to Google, no comprehensive end-to-end framework exists to mitigate threats across the software supply chain. [Yet] ‘there is an urgent need for a solution in the face of the eye-opening, multi-billion-dollar attacks in recent months...some of which could have been prevented or made more difficult’. 


Here are several of the largest cybersecurity failures in recent months: 


  • SolarWinds. Alleged Russian hackers slipped malicious code into a routine software update, which they then used as a Trojan horse for a massive cyberattack. 
  • Codecov. Attackers used automation to collect credentials and raid ‘additional resources’, such as data from other software development vendors. 
  • Malicious attacks on open-source repositories. Out of 1,000 GitHub accounts, more than one in five contained at least one dependency confusion-related misconfiguration. 


As a result of these attacks and Biden’s recent cybersecurity mandate, NIST and Google took action. NIST held a 1,400-person workshop and published 150 papers worth of recommendations from Microsoft, Synopsys, The Linux Foundation, and other software experts; Google will work with popular source, build, and packaging platforms to help companies implement and excel at their SLSA framework


What Are Their Recommendations? 

Here’s a quick recap: NIST has grouped together recommendations to create federal standards; Google has developed an end-to-end framework called Supply Chain Levels for Software Artifacts (SLSA)—pronounced “Salsa”. Both address software procurement and security. 


Now, here’s the slightly more in-depth version: 


  • NIST. The organisation wants more ‘rigorous and predictable’ ways to secure critical software. They suggest that firms use vulnerability disclosure programmes (VDP) and software bills of materials (SBOM), consider simplifying their software and give at least one developer per project security training.
  • Google. The company thinks that SLSA will encompass the source-build-publish software workflow. Essentially, the four-level framework helps businesses make informed choices about the security of the software they use, with SLSA 4 representing an ideal end state. 


If this all sounds very abstract, consider the recent SolarWinds attack. The attacker compromised the build platform, installed an implant, and injected malicious behaviour during each build. According to Google, higher SLSA levels would have required stronger security controls for the build platform, making it more difficult for the attacker to succeed. 


How Do The Proposals Differ? 

As Brian Fox, the co-founder and CTO at Sonatype, sees it, NIST and Google have created proposals that complement each other. ‘The NIST [version] is focused on defining minimum requirements for software sold to the government’, he explained, while Google ‘goes [further] and proposes a specific model for scoring the supply chain. NIST is currently focused on the “what”. Google, along with other industry leaders, is grappling with the “how”’. 


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