An Improved Industrial Rack System
Feature Enhancement Based on Microcontroller Technology
Technologies used


Industrial sector (PRODCOM code)
    28 Metal Structure and Parts of Structures
    29 Lifting and Handling Equipment
    333 Industrial Process Control Equipment

Rack International Ltd, design and marketing of sliding shelf systems for industrial storage applications, especially for the storage of injection moulding tool dies, and major components for the aircraft manufacturing industry. The company has annual sales of 1.5 M Euro, and employs 4 people. The company's industrial activity is classified as the manufacture of metal structures and parts of structures (Prodcom classification code 2811), and the company has no prior experience in the use of any microelectronic technology.

The company's major market is injection moulding subcontract companies where the sliding shelf system provides an efficient method of storing dies and mould tools. Alternative markets include the provision of storage for jigs, fixtures and major component parts for aircraft and helicopter construction, metal fabrication companies, and for storage of major components such as electric motors, gearboxes and valves in general engineering manufacturing applications.

The company's existing product range is entirely mechanical. This limits the application to the storage of products that are below Health and Safety requirements on the movement of loads by manual effort. Heavy loads of several tonnes therefore, need to be moved by the use of fork lift trucks or other means, and this significantly reduces the application of the company's sliding storage systems.

The rationale of the application experiment was to remove this fundamental limitation of the existing system, and thereby open up new market opportunities for the company's racking systems.

The objective of the application experiment was to automate the existing Glide Out range of products using microcontroller technology so as to overcome safe opening load limitation, and to further improve the product by the addition of the following features:

  1. Inventory control record keeping features to enable shelf operation to be activated using part numbers entered by the operators.
  2. Safety monitoring and warning systems, including load monitoring, interlock monitoring and the activation of warning lights and audible alarms during shelf movement.

These facilities has resulted in a unique product in the market place enabling the company to exploit new market opportunities, offering the potential for a significant increase in the company's sales.

The sales revenue increase will produce a payback period for the 43 K Euro costs of the application experiment of approximately 17 months. The return on investment over a 4 year product life is estimated to be 557%.

The duration of the application experiment was 9 months. The industrialisation costs for the prototype product is estimated as 10 K Euro.


    Rack International (UK) Ltd.
    Merthyr Tydfil Industrial Estate
    Merthyr Tydfil
    United Kingdom.

Detailed information

You can also benefit from microelectronics

Microcontroller technology provided Rack International (UK) Ltd. with the means of improving its products and enhancing its market position. You can also achieve significant benefits by acquiring the right microelectronics technology and utilising it in your product or manufacturing process. You can get help from FUSE to realise this.

FUSE is a technology transfer programme, funded by the European Commission to stimulate the wider use of microelectronics technologies by European enterprises to increase their competitiveness and enhance their economic growth. The demonstrator described here is one of many examples in the public FUSE portfolio covering the whole spectrum of microelectronics technologies and spanning a wide range of applications and industry sectors.

FUSE provides you with:

  • Best practice in acquiring specific microelectronics technologies and conducting full development projects through the FUSE portfolio of real life demonstrator documents.
  • Local training and expert support to plan your innovation realistically and help you conduct your project successfully.

Further information and support relating to this and other demonstrators can be obtained from the addresses below.

Further information   Guiding Technology Transfer Node
For further information and support regarding this case study, please contact a Technology Transfer Node (TTN) in your region.
Homepage: http://www.fuse-network.com
Univercity of Glamorgan
Mid Glamorgan
Pontypridd CF37 1DL
United Kingdom