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How can I store more product in my warehouse using pallet rack?

Tall reach fork truck in a narrow aisle storing and retrieving a pallet into pallet racking

A warehouse can be designed in many different ways to store your product. Between the different kinds of racks to the different ways to retrieve product, the decision which method works best for you can be a little overwhelming. So how do you know? First, review your current warehouse state. How many pallets are in storage for each SKU?

Once you know how many pallets need to be stored, we can move forward to the best ways to store these pallets. Have you heard of Pareto’s Principle? In the warehouse, it means that about 80 percent of your product going out is in 20 percent of your SKUs. With that being said, not all SKUs should be treated equally, or stored equally.

Your product needs to be distributed conventionally for your warehouse operation. Which brings us to the next question:

How do I store fast moving product?

This method does not use racks for storage. If you have very few SKUs and many pallets of each one, bulk stacking may be a good storage strategy for you. It usually takes a dense storage area and involves the stacking of pallets. This is good for light product. Heavy product can crush the pallet(s) below. Since this system doesn’t require the use of racks, it’s very economical. Bulk stacking is that it doesn’t utilize the warehouse’s vertical space, as pallets can only be stacked three to four high, and that is this method’s major shortcoming.

This is a special type of rack that allows for first-in-first-out (FIFO) or last-in-last-out (LILO) applications. This is good for product that has expiration dates and is great for maximizing space in your warehouse. The best way to describe pallet flow is like getting milk out of the cooler at the grocery store. The pallet’s entry point is at the back, it’ll slide to the front.

Drive-in racking is a LILO application. The pallets are put in and taken out of the same entry spot. This method is great for bulk storage, as you can store a lot of the items (of the same SKU) and utilize the warehouse’s vertical space. Drive-in racking is very economical, but operators need to be careful, as it’s very easy to damage the product in this type of rackflow rail deep lane pallet racking storage system.

Deep lane pallet shuttle is a system that uses very deep racks and a battery-powered pallet-like platform that moves pallets within the rack. This can really ease the operator’s fears of damaging drive-in racking and also cuts back on the lift trucks’ travel time.

Now you have some ideas how to store your fast moving SKUs and the front of your warehouse, but how do you store the bulk of your warehouse? To maximize the useful space in your warehouse, fast moving SKUs and SKUs that are not used very often shouldn’t be stored in the same manner.

Flow Rail is a high-density pallet rack storage system operated using conventional forklift trucks and standard pallet rack for support.  Flow rail is non-motorized and offers FILO (first in last out) pallet storage for 3 to 10 pallets deep.  Because the move back and forth using the pushing and pulling power of the lift truck, the rails are designed to be level, saving vertical space when compared to pallet flow and push-back pallet rack systems.

 

What are some racking solutions for storing my medium or slower moving SKUs?

Selective racking is the most basic and common type of rack you can find in a warehouse. It’s also most economical. Selective racking is very versatile as any type of lift truck at any entry point can access it. It works best in FIFO applications but it takes a lot of warehouse space. It allows immediate access to any pallet in your warehouse.

In addition, case flow can be added easily to most selective racking to allow for case pick or broken case pick order picking areas.

Double-deep basically allows two selective racks to be pushed together to make the storage area twice as deep. This type of storage requires the use of a special truck – a deep-reach lift truck. This truck can place a pallet in the deeper pallet position and also to position it closer to the aisle. Elimination of aisles is the benefit of this type of racking as it – allows to use space better. Double deep doesn’t allow immediate access to every pallet in the warehouse.

Push back is very similar to pallet flow, except pallets are pushed in from the front of the rack instead of loaded from the back. It is especially useful for LIFO applications. It can store two to five pallets deep, making it ideal for products that have no expiration date. One disadvantage of a push back storage application is that it expensive.

What if you need to store products that are not suited for standard pallet racking?

Although the above applications and types of rack are some of the most common, they’re certainly not the only options available. Products and tools come in all shapes and sizes and some require special storage units.

What are other warehouse racking storage options?

This type of racking is designed for the storage of extra long items. It’s held up by beams and has “cantilever arms” and “cantilever columns” that hold the product. A few trades that this method works best in are timber, PVC carpet, furniture and tubing.

A mezzanine is like a second floor added to your warehouse. Mezzanines can have a multitude of uses. They can be used for storage and office space. They utilize the vertical space that is not being used.

Vertical lift modules or VLMs are a good option if your operation deals with a lot of small parts. They use vertical space rather than horizontal space, leaving a lot of room for other types of storage or use in the rest of the warehouse. They also can be locked by a keypad for valuable product.

There are many different ways you can store products in your warehouse, but not all are right for your operations. To maximize the use of space and increase productivity, it’s important to be selective in the design process. Raymond Handling Concepts is here to help. Contact us today and we’d love to get a warehouse sketch to you.

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