Houston-based MRC Global also recently held a grand-opening celebration for its massive new Houston Operations Complex located in suburban La Porte, Texas, just outside Houston. Supply House Times toured the new facility in mid-October.

The complex contains a 415,000-square-foot regional distribution center that stocks almost $33 million in pipe, fittings and flanges inventory, and just over $90 million in valves, automation, measurement and instrumentation inventory.

The facility also has a 40,000-square-foot valve and engineering center that stocks nearly $15 million in inventory, while a new 127,000-square-foot valve engineering center and modification shop is slated to open in 2019, and will feature in-house x-ray and coating, modification of valves up to 42 inches and 600 pounds, and direct gas and gas-over-oil actuation.

Additionally, the La Porte complex has 78,000 square feet of office space and a 10-acre pipe yard.

A centerpiece of the facility is its conveyor system that holds 9,000 products on a three-story mezzanine. The system automatically sorts products to be shipped to a branch, directly to UPS or to be added to products located in other parts of the facility before being shipped out. MRC Global said the system drastically reduces the amount of lifting and walking an employee must take to pull a ticket — making it both safer and faster.

The complex is loaded with a bevy of other safety-first initiatives, including lift tables for work stations to help with back safety and joint strain, pushback and high-rise racking that helps safely handle palletized material and makes it easy to control inventory, and 30-foot forklifts that come equipped with a camera for use above 12 feet when the visibility for the driver becomes impaired.

Ergonomic improvements include hydraulic lift tables, two VacuHoist systems, a UPS packer and an automatic pallet wrapper that dramatically decreases the burden of loading and unloading material while it is being prepared for shipment. Dock levers lock trailers into position to allow for safe loading and unloading..

— Mike Miazga reporting from La Porte, Texas