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level, how do you get to that shelf and that box. We’ve
eliminated all of that.”
The picking stations are also ergonomically-friendly.
The whole platform can be raised or lowered to fit the
worker’s height, making them more comfortable and
decreasing the risk of strain or injury.
“Everything you do is going to be at the same exact
height,” Travaglini says.
After the orders are completed, the system delivers
totes to the appropriate packing station. If the order
is small enough, it travels through the DC’s automated
packing structure via conveyor. Once there, shipping
labels are added and packing lists are inserted. The boxes
then pass through a piece of equipment that will scan
the box to check the height of the item, mark a score on
the cardboard box and fold down the flaps, creating a
right-sized box for orders. That allows Grainger to cut
boxes down to a smaller height, saving the company
On a busy day, up to 18 trailers leave the DC to
deliver products out to customers, as well as Grainger
store branches. However, instead of overwhelming one
parcel carrier hub, orders are divided up by zipcode
and sent to a variety of hub locations, including New
Jersey, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York and more.
Travaglini says that system cuts out a day of transit time
and allows customers to receive next-day delivery service.
There are a lot of moving parts in Grainger’s state-of-the-art distribution center, and helping keep everything
running smoothly is a dedicated staff of maintenance
workers. Of the 600 employees at the Bordertown DC, 30
are in maintenance.
“Maintenance monitors everything, makes sure there
are no mechanical breakdowns,” Travaglini says. “We’ve
got a really good facilities team, which you’re going to
need in a building of this complexity.”
Setting Themselves Apart
One thing that makes Grainger’s Bordertown
distribution center different from the company’s others is
its campus-like feel.
“Hopefully, when people walk into the front of the
building, they don’t think it looks like a distribution
center until they actually step through the other set of
doors,” Travaglini says. “We like to think that we set a
Large windows allow copious amounts of natural
light to fill the building’s common areas, which include a
cafeteria, decompression/breakroom, marketplace, locker
room and complimentary fitness center. The marketplace
offers team members the convenience of vending
machines, but with a twist. A variety of beverages and
snacks are available for purchase; however, instead of
feeding a machine endless coins or fussing with a crinkled
The LEED Gold certified facility boasts one of
the largest solar installations in the country.