SpaceSaver racks can increase storage and production capacity by as much as five times.
SpaceSaver racks increasing storage and production capacity by as much as five times
SpaceSaver racks can increase storage and production capacity by as much as five times.
Smart space
Specialty vehicle manufacturer stays organized with racking system
By Lauren Duensing

any businesses are becoming more mobile as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and this is fueling a rise in demand for specialty vehicles—everything from on-the-go healthcare services, such as blood donation vans and mobile clinics, to food trucks. According to the marketing intelligence and advisory firm Mordor Intelligence, the specialty vehicle market was valued at $92.28 billion in 2020 and is expected to grow to $113.2 billion by 2026.

Fort Lupton, Colorado-based Summit Bodyworks has 30 years of experience creating innovative designs to fulfill this market need. The company recently delivered the first vehicle in its Peak body series, a 26-foot-long fiberglass mobile medical unit, to the Denver Health Department. It’s equipped with three separated rooms, including two examination beds, a blood draw chair and refrigeration units.

Some other Summit projects include a mobile chemotherapy compounding laboratory for Cancer Care Specialists of Illinois, which sits on a Freightliner M2 chassis, and a Multi-Purpose Command and Transport unit for the Meeker County, Minnesota, sheriff’s department.

Go further
Whether it’s a medical vehicle, a mobile classroom or an adventure van, Summit can build it. The company operates from a total of 170,000 square feet of manufacturing space. There’s the “truck body fabrication facility and then, right across the street, we have a facility for our special projects,” says Mike Weiss, director of operations.

Summit Bodyworks’ leadership team decided to expand the second building toward the end of 2018. “We gathered a number of our team members together to design a layout for this new facility.

[The racks] allow us to leverage more of the vertical space.
Mike Weiss, Summit Bodyworks
“This portion of our business is geared around a number of different fabrication projects,” Weiss continues. “We build and assemble truck bodies, freight platforms and other unique metal fabrication applications. A lot of the raw materials that we bring in are a mix of either raw sheet metal or extrusions for aluminum, and the processing we do includes sawing and plasma cutting, CNC press brake operations, forming of a variety of different materials, fabrication, welding—anything that’s required to support the assembly process for the variety of products that we sell.”

The main goal for the expansion was to provide breathing space. “Our business had been growing so quickly that we physically ran out of space to accomplish what we needed to accomplish,” he says.

Maximized footprint
Physical space always is at a premium, “so what we were trying to do was maximize the actual physical space allocated for our assembly processes and be as smart as possible with our inventory,” Weiss says. To do this, Summit turned to a local supplier—Steel Storage Systems in Commerce City, Colorado, for an organizational system. The company chose three six-tall SpaceSaver roll-out cantilever racks, two for storing material 24 feet long and one for 40-foot-long aluminum extrusions, and three six-high double-sided crank-out sheet racks for storing 60-inch by 120-inch and 72-inch by 144-inch sheet metal.
The crank-out drawers on Steel Storage Systems’ sheet racks are designed to handle large, heavy materials like the ones inventoried at Summit, and the roll-out cantilever racks complement overhead crane handling methods by providing immediate and safe access for loading and retrieving. The receptacles in which the material is stored roll out into an open aisle so they are completely exposed, enhancing safety by eliminating piles, stacks and buried material.
Steel Storage Systems factory with crank-out drawers
Steel Storage Systems crank-out drawers take 20 pounds of torque to operate—20 percent less effort than a pull-out drawer.
Installing the storage racks accomplishes two things, according to Weiss. “One, it allows us to leverage more of the vertical space. Two, it allows us to minimize the amount of physical square footage that we take up for storage. That’s a big win for us.”
He says that the racks also streamline material flow during the transfer from one side of the building to the other.

“We have 18 cranes in this building, but it is difficult for us to pass materials from the bay to the other side because the cranes can’t cross the bays. The pass-through feature of the double-sided sheet rack really helped us along. We can actually replenish from one side of the rack and material can be pulled from the other side without needing a whole lot of forklift handling.”

Overall, the process went smoothly, and it was a bonus that Steel Storage Systems was able to custom paint Summit’s racks red, says Weiss. “We always enjoy working with local businesses.”

Steel Storage Systems, Commerce City, Colorado, 303/287-0291,

Summit Bodyworks, Fort Lupton, Colorado, 303/301-7550,