If your warehouse stores a variety of palletized products, it's important that you keep those pallets organized and accessible. While this can be complicated in spaces where pallets are stored solely on the floor, investing in pallet racks may be the solution that you need. Before you add any rack systems to your warehouse, it's important that you understand the options. The best rack system will depend on how your inventory flows. Here are some examples to help you choose the right racks for your needs.
Individual Pallet Access
If you need to have access to all of your pallets at all times, you'll need a selective pallet rack system. These racks are designed to fit two pallets side by side. Each pallet is accessible from aisles on either side of the rack. When your business operations require that you be able to pull any pallet at any given time, this is a good way to maximize your storage space.
High-Density Inventory Rotation
When you stock a lot of pallets of the same items, such as with wholesale warehouses, you'll want a system that lets you rotate your inventory. Whether you need first-in-first-out management or last-in-first-out management, there are options.
- First-In-First-Out - There are several varieties of first-in-first-out pallet rack designs. For example, drive-through pallet stacks are designed for pallets to be loaded on one side and then removed for shipping from the other. These stacks are usually constructed of steel for durability and placed in the center of very wide aisles to allow for pallet jacks to maneuver easily. As a pallet is removed for shipping, the next one behind is moved forward via the use of a conveyor belt or other similar system. Another first-in-first-out pallet rack system is the flow rack. These are usually reserved for particularly high-density storage, such as high volume warehouses. These systems rely on a gravity-fed line to move the pallets. The end where pallets are loaded is typically elevated, creating an incline that contributes to the flow of the pallets. As the first pallet is removed, the pallets roll forward due to gravity and the response of the rollers that are typically installed beneath the pallets. The benefit of these units is that there's no electricity required, such as you would need for a conveyor belt system. This makes them a good choice for environments that are focused on the basics.
- Last-In-First-Out - For operations that don't need to rotate inventory, last-in-first-out pallet storage is sufficient. Drive-in pallet racks are a last-in-first-out storage method. They are racks designed for the pallet jack to drive into to place and remove pallets, then back out. Since these racks are only accessed from the front, each shipment out is going to begin with the last pallet that came in. Another pallet rack system that draws the last loaded pallet is a push back loading rack. These systems use a set of rollers or another sliding platform to store shipments several pallets deep. You place new pallets on the front of the rack, pushing the existing front pallet backward. As you remove pallets from the front, the next one slides forward. In most cases, the design uses an elevated, inclined rack structure to simplify the process.
With so many different choices, it's important to be practical about how your company will handle inventory. Evaluate your existing inventory flow cycle or the cycle that's planned, if this is a whole new venture. Once you know what order your pallets will ship out in, you'll be in a better position to select the right racks. Work with a local pallet rack contractor to not only select the right system but also ensure that they are installed correctly. These racks will support a lot of weight, so correct selection and installation is essential.
For more information, contact a company like Commercial Hardware.