push back pallet rack system

To put it simply, it depends! Lots of factors come into play when deciding what type of pallet rack best suits your operation.

  1. Cost
  2. Size of the facility
  3. The clearance height of the facility’s ceiling
  4. What type of product is stored
  5. Size of pallets used
  6. What is the product turn around
  7. What kind of forklift truck used

Knowing this information can help you determine what solution will work best in your facility. 

Pallet Rack 101:

Roll Formed and Structural

A roll-formed pallet rack is the most common construction of racking. It is usually manufactured in the “teardrop” style; teardrop referring to the teardrop-shaped holes on the uprights column. It is cold rolled and typically has a rivet connection. There are few circumstances when roll-formed has a bolted connection. This type of pallet rack also tends to be less expensive because it is comprised of less steel than structural. Roll-formed uses mounting clips that can easily be adjusted to different heights according to load size, which is beneficial for warehouses that store a wide variety of product sizes.

Structural pallet rack is hot-rolled. Its components are almost always bolted together, which can easily spot structural versus roll-formed pallet rack. The horizontal load beams connect to the uprights with bolts, which increases the rack’s weight-bearing capacity. The structural pallet rack is made of thicker steel c-channels, making it the more expensive but durable pallet rack option. It is most commonly used in warehouses where inventory has a quick turnover because durability is a huge factor when accommodating heavy forklift traffic.

Uprights

  • Vertical bracing columns
  • Depth determined by product size
  • Height determined by clear height in building and forklift capabilities
  • Column size determined by capacity needed
  • The capacity of uprights determined by the spacing of beams – spacing beams far apart can create bends in the uprights, closer together makes it stronger
  • Gauge determined by capacity needed

Beams 

  • Horizontal load supports
  • Length determined by product size
  • Height determined by capacity needed
  • Gauge determined by capacity needed – lower gauge means thicker steel and higher capacity
  • Deflection in beams is how much the beam is designed to bend – deflection is typical!

Row Spacers

  • Flue space connector
  • Layout determines the length of the row spacer
  • Length determined by flue space dimensions
  • Type determined by upright to be connected to
  • Some row spacers are not interchangeable, so be aware when selling used equipment

Pallet Supports

  • Load supports connecting front and back beams
  • Length determined by the depth of upright
  • Style and gauge determined by capacity needed

Wire Decking

Wire decking is used in pallet racks and other types of storage racks. Made from steel wire, wire decking gives you the flexibility to store a variety of pallet sizes. It provides a stable surface while also maintaining an open surface, which improves fire safety by enhancing your overhead sprinkler system’s performance. Wire decking is easy to install and is virtually maintenance-free.

If you have additional questions, give us a call at 866.474.2001 or contact your sales representative!

delivery-expectations

Some people call the “Amazon Effect” a disruption. Some people recognize it as an evolution of the retail market. While both may be true, one thing we all can agree on is how consumers are changing their expectations on delivery – both in terms of timing and specificity.

However, the “Amazon Effect” is not changing the retail industry alone. Shipping, wholesalers, warehouses, and other sectors that branch off the retail industry are all undergoing seismic changes in how to meet customers’ new levels of expediency. Essentially, there is an expectation that consumers are buying online. When they buy online, they want their product as soon as possible. In order to meet these new expectations, every point on the delivery supply chain needs to adjust accordingly. According to Forbes’ Insights Team:

Customer demands for ever more rapid fulfillment are forcing businesses of all kinds to warehouse their goods ever closer to intermediate and end-customers… Getting goods to consumers faster means “seven, eight or nine touches moving the freight to a network of warehouses and forward positions.” In short, says the executive, “that final mile is being redefined almost every day.”

When change is happening as quickly as it is, decision-makers who are “forward-thinking” are getting ahead of the curve.

Being “forward-thinking” means evaluating all aspects of your operations to maximize efficiencies — either by reducing inefficiencies or by introducing new technologies to meet your customers where demand is shifting. In a sense, you know there are changes in your clients’ expectations coming if they have not already changed.

What Are Your Options?

  1. You can be proactive and adjust your operations now. Get ahead of your clients and provide a seamless experience in catering to their needs.
  2. You can be reactive and wait until your clients require you to change. Run the risk of your clients having a disruption of service when their needs change.
  3. You can never adjust to changes in your industry. Good luck with that.

When you are ready to explore your options to adjust to changes in delivery expectations, we are here to help. Storage Solutions has decades of combined experience in working with our clients and partners to optimize – not just for today’s needs, but for tomorrow’s growth as well.

Automation Solutions to Facilitate E-Commerce

There is a rapidly growing market for interest in automation solutions, especially in response to the COVID-19 crisis that has reshaped supply chains globally, nationally, and locally.

Before the crisis began, businesses of all types were slowly shifting to support e-commerce. However, when the pandemic hit, that shift suddenly forced those interested in these solutions to re-evaluate if automation was required to meet customer demand. No matter the degree of automation integrated before COVID-19, fulfillment centers need to incorporate automation to a higher degree.

To meet customer demand – where the time between order and delivery expectation is shorter than any time in history – warehouses need to change. Warehouses that are not fully prepared for this rapid rise of e-commerce often rely on an excessive amount of labor (including additional overtime), missing ship dates, and not meeting customer expectations on order accuracy or fulfillment times, all while confronting an ever-increasing volume of SKUs.

The pain points are all building up for those who have not yet adjusted. In those cases, how does one respond?

Some businesses start from scratch by building new facilities, while others are looking to adjust by retrofitting under their current footprint. These companies are looking to increase storage density, reduce time and costs, and achieve higher throughput capabilities by introducing automation into their processes.

Several solutions help warehouses and distribution centers stay competitive and thrive in today’s changing world. Below, we have highlighted seven automation solutions we have seen be useful in these efforts, no matter what level of automation your facility currently has implemented:

Solution 1: Goods-to-Person AS/RS – AMR Hybrid Solutions

Goods-to-Person AS/RS - AMR HybridOne unique AMR solution we have seen successfully facilitate e-commerce is a Goods-to-Person AS/RS+AMR Hybrid Solution. This high-density, automated storage-and-retrieval system (AS/RS) can move goods to-and-from a storage mechanism that allows for vertical storage of up to 36 feet. The system can support small-item picking and delivery of the goods to a packing station. The system is also scalable, giving the ability to adjust as your needs grow by adding additional AMRs and racking. We have seen this solution be especially useful in micro-fulfillment centers and as a solution in facilities with a high volume of SKUs.

Solution 2: Goods-to-Man Tote Handling AS/RS

Goods-to-Man Tote Handling AS/RSHigh-speed AS/RS tote handling solutions offer scalable goods-to-person picking that improves the speed with which orders are picked, increases order accuracy, and reduces labor costs related to the picking process. It is a low-risk solution for those looking to introduce automated solutions into their operations. An additional benefit of this solution is that an operator can customize either the software or the system quickly if needed.

These systems offer high-density storage both vertically and horizontally within the system with robots that deliver products to a packing station or workstation for further fulfillment. It utilizes put-to-light technology that offers a high degree of accuracy, even with high volumes of order picking.

Solution 3: Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs)

Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs)AMRs offer a wide variety of benefits, including facilitating complex fulfillment, zone picking, each picking, case picking, maximizes labor, reduces labor costs, and can be designed to be scalable, flexible, and adaptable to nearly any fulfillment process. Because they do not require massive investment or even a WMS, on-demand automation solutions like AMRs are becoming adopted widely, especially for those looking to make low-risk introductions into automation.

Solution 4: Vertical Lift Machines (VLMs) in Groups

Vertical Lift Machines (VLMs)VLMs are another goods-to-man solution that helps pickers efficiently fulfill orders while optimizing floor space within a facility. For instance, it can fit what would typically take up 5,000 square feet of floor space into about 150 square feet (meaning a 90% improvement in floorspace utilization). These are usually used for small cube items but can facilitate some heavier items in certain situations.

Products are placed on a tray, and the VLM will deliver the tray to the picking area, where a laser will dictate the exact location where the item is stored. This process allows for extremely high pick rates with a high level of accuracy to go along with the advantages of the additional cubic storage volume they offer.

Solution 5: Put to Light Tables – Picking from Multiple Machines

Put-to-Light TablesPut-to-Light systems are an automated sortation method to break down larger product quantities into smaller individual orders. Known as the “scan and sort method,” this order fulfillment method takes items that are usually batch picked beforehand and transports them to the put station. The operator will scan a bar code on individual items, and the lights will illuminate with any customer order including that product. This technology solution will increase productivity as it reduces the time associated with searching for the put location. By the time the operator is done, the next product is already waiting, meaning it is a nonstop picking environment where workers are never waiting on automation.

Put-to-Light offers the same hardware devices and software as pick to light, meaning you can utilize both systems on one platform. This process will be beneficial when it comes to training new employees to use this technology solution. This system’s primary goal is to give you the ability to pack and ship more orders in less time while reducing errors.

Solution 6: Mixed Use of AMRs, Pick Modules, and Conveyors

AMRs and Conveyor CombosWe’ve touched on the integration of AMRs in conjunction with pick modules in addition to (or in place of) conveyors here. In short, by using this solution, you are shifting the work of your labor force to more valuable tasks. Like many automated solutions, it lessens the pick process’s length and gives you a flexible, scalable solution to adjust as e-commerce continues to grow.  Click here to learn more about this solution.

Solution 7: Horizontal AMR – AS/RS Solutions

Horizontal AMR - AS/RSAmong the most dynamic environments thriving in today’s high-demand world are ones that utilize highly automated horizontal AMRs in AS/RS storage environments. In this environment, a facility’s layout is full of mobile shelving units with caged-off pick cells surrounding the area. The robots find the shelf, then deliver the shelf back to its appropriate location once picked. It completely removes the need for human labor to travel the pick floor.

This style of goods-to-person to bin-to-person picking eliminates the redundant walking of pickers while also improving accuracy and reducing labor costs.

Which is Right for You?

Which is the right solution for you? Will you need a WES/WMS system? Do you need a partner to help you consider using an engineered solution in the future?
There are several factors distribution centers need to consider, not only to meet today’s demand but also to facilitate growth and adaptability for future unforeseen changes in fulfillment expectations.

We have the design and expertise to partner with you through the decision-making and implementation processes. Give us a call today!

Storage Solutions Each PIcking E-Commerce

“Each picking” is a common style of order picking in the rising world of order fulfillment through e-commerce channels. With each picking, individual products or SKUs are selected from a storage medium instead of choosing an entire case or pallet. Once the order is complete, the picker transports the order to a packing area to be shipped.

Especially at a high volume, this process can be relatively highly labor-intensive, add to rising labor costs, and potentially cause delays in order fulfillment. Plus, because order sizes are getting smaller – in line with a rising share of e-commerce orders – warehouses and distribution centers need to be aware of various storage solutions that support each picking. This knowledge is particularly valuable as we continue to adapt to a rapidly changing supply chain.

light-duty-cantilever

Cantilever Shelving

So, which storage solutions allow for your warehouse to be best equipped to facilitate each picking?

  • Cantilever – Cantilever arms can be attached to pallet rack uprights and be outfitted with wire decks to keep products like clothing and other soft goods within a multi-level system from a picking perspective. This configuration can make continuous picking and replenishment easier for workers. Cantilever shelving can also be utilized as a creative way to put small-cube and slow-moving objects on a shorter pick path.
  • Carton Flow – Primarily used in first-in, first-out picking situations, carton flow uses gravity to feed products forward from a rear-load design. When an item is picked, the next case or object with the same SKU moves forward with gravity’s help to the pick face. This style of racking is designed for high-volume each picking where you need to keep operator travel low.
  • Spantrak Carton Flow

    Carton Flow

    Hand-Stack Racking – Similar to cantilever shelving, hand-stack racks are traditionally used for storing products that may be too bulky or large for standard bin shelving. This racking style generally uses wire decking or a solid surface to act as shelves within selective pallet rack with variable heights per row to best fit products in cases or cartons.

  • Modular Picking Carts – Modular picking carts are great accessories for pickers as they fulfill an order. They can accommodate and organize the storage of one (or a few) products of several SKUs, a regular feature of e-commerce orders. These mobile carts can also be configured to be either single-sided or facilitate back-to-back storage, depending on your products’ sizes.
  • Vertical Lift Machines (VLMs)

    vertical-lift-machines

    Vertical Lift Machines

    – The primary benefit of a VLM is the maximization of vertical space in your warehouse. For instance, a VLM may be capable of storing the same amount of small cube items that take up 5,000 square feet of floor space in a warehouse and transfer that into about 150 square feet of floor space, giving you a 90% decrease in your footprint. This goods-to-man solution allows operators to pick orders accurately and efficiently at a high rate by delivering products in trays controlled by your already-existing Warehouse Management System (WMS).

Which Solution is Best for Your Facility?

For the most part, determining which storage solution is right for you depends on the size of the products stored in your warehouse and how quickly your orders need to be fulfilled. However, that time keeps shrinking due to changing customer expectations.

Having an expert by your side can help determine the best answer, especially if you are looking at adjusting pick processes, facility layout, and storage optimization.

Of course, our team is here to help! We would love to get a conversation started around the challenges you see in meeting customer expectations, rising labor costs, and storage needs. With our “simple, smart, strategic” approach, we can develop the optimal solution to meet your needs. Give us a call today!

Increase Storage Capacity with Dense Storage Solutions

There can be many reasons why a distribution center or warehouse would increase storage density within their facility. Perhaps the company has grown but does not feel that investing in a new facility is the right move. Maybe they are changing their inventory strategy to combat future disruptions in the supply chain, so they want to add additional safety stock of popular products. They could even be adding a new set of products or SKUs and need to accommodate that capacity growth.

When a company is evaluating how to increase storage capacity, there comes the point in which the business needs to determine the best path to create additional storage without increasing the size of its footprint.

What do you do when you have more of each SKU on hand than you used to?

Dense Storage Solutions for Large Items

Pallet Rack Pushback Dense Solutions

Pushback Racking

  • Pushback Racking – Pushback racking uses a cart system that is pitched from back to front so that stored materials can gravity flow down into a pick position. When a new load is added, it pushes back pallets already on the rack. This system is ideal for Last-In, First-Out (LIFO) inventory management.
  • Pallet Flow Ideal for First-In, First Out (FIFO) inventory management, pallet flow is created when multiple pallets are added from the storage system load end, and rollers propel pallets downward toward a pick position at the opposite end of the system, allowing for efficient picking and unloading.
  • Pallet-Flows

    Pallet Flow

    Drive-In / Drive-Thru Drive-In and Drive-Thru racking allow forklift operators to either drive in or drive through racking to pick up or drop off pallets. Because the system requires fewer pick aisles, this style of racking can accommodate a more considerable amount of pallet space than standard racking systems.

  • Semi-Automated Deep Lane Storage With this storage system, a motorized cart (operated by a remote) is used to pick up pallets and transfer it along the storage lane. This type of racking is very user-friendly and allows for quick retrieval of pallets.

Dense Storage Solutions for Small Items

  • vertical-lift-machines

    Vertical Lift Machines

    Vertical Lift Machines (VLMs) VLMs are goods-to-man picking solutions that help deliver trays of smaller products to a pick area. These machines are typically suited for small cube and slower-moving items.

  • Mini-Load AS/RS – Mini-load automated storage and retrieval systems (AS/RS) are a storage system that will automatically store and retrieve products under 350 pounds within an engineered rack system. These systems allow warehouses to have a smaller storage footprint by creating a vertical, automated storage system.

Several options are available, and the right storage medium will depend on the items you are warehousing. Once you determine the correct solution for your operations, you will also need to reconfigure your picking operation to maximize pick efficiency. Of course, we are here to help you throughout the decision-making process and be a partner that guides you to the correct decision.

No matter what challenges you are seeing, we have the expertise to match you with the appropriate solution suited to meet those challenges while accounting for future growth. Give us a call today!

Value of Fetch Solutions

Order fulfillment in today’s world is significantly different from even just a few years ago. With the rise of e-commerce, expectations for order fulfillment’s speed and accuracy make it hard for traditional warehouse operators to keep up.

In competing with the Amazons of the world, these traditional distribution centers are battling against now-slow fulfillment times, rising labor costs, and throughput challenges. Meeting those customer demands can be trying without introducing technology and dynamic solutions designed to meet those challenges head-on.

For those new to these emerging technologies, making that jump into automation can be scary. However, Fetch Robotics offers a line of products designed to assist with several operational variations without massive infrastructure investment.

They may not fully understand that there are introductory-level solutions available that allow incrementally beneficial solutions, many of which offer a return on investment relatively quickly. Plus, you do not have to deal with software integration or making a bunch of infrastructure changes. Instead, you can get a simple solution up and running quickly and easily. If you need something complicated or need a more comprehensive solution over time, these solutions can be more fully integrated to meet those needs.

Here are five ways that Fetch can incrementally add value to your operations:

  • Zone Pick/Batch Picking: Autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) are great tools to handle material movement, especially in zone or batch picking scenarios. They can physically move products from the pick area to another point in the process – perhaps to a conveyor or packing area. This usage saves your labor force from the physical toll of handling the material and traveling required, which also cuts down on travel time and allows your fulfillment to happen quicker.
  • Each Picking / Case Picking: People typically do not think of AMRs when handling each pick or case pick scenarios. However, that is a misconception. In fact, with the rise of e-commerce, these AMRs can similarly speed up the fulfillment process. Because each picking tends to associate itself with higher labor costs, integrating AMRs can be a great way to keep those labor costs down by reducing the distance traveled and the wear-and-tear on your workers.
  • Adaptability: As consumer demand continues to change, distribution centers that rely on heavy-duty pick modules or conveyors can fall behind. Why? Because they cannot change their processes quickly enough to meet those changes, the infrastructure they have constructed is too limiting and costly to move. Fetch Solutions allow your operations to quickly and easily adjust as needed.
  • Scalability: With a Fetch AMR solution, you can scale your automation quickly and simply by adding robots. Because workflows are developed within the FetchCore cloud operating platform, they can be programmed within just a few minutes. By adding more robots, you can increase your throughput as needed, allowing you to respond to demand changes as quickly as you need to.
  • Flexibility: Because these AMRs run on cloud-based software, they can be re-programmed at any point from anywhere that has an internet connection. That means, should your needs change – for instance, a new pick point needs to be added or removed, you can set those points without needing to re-program or re-map an entire facility.

Let’s Talk this Through

These solutions are not solely limited to support e-commerce, either. AMRs can support a wide variety of material handling needs and distribution concepts. Their adaptability, scalability, and flexibility can be explicitly designed to suit any number of needs.

If this is all new to you, know that we are here to help. Our team has years of experience in integrating these systems to fit a variety of industry models. Give us a call today, and we can talk about what challenges you face and determine the right course of action to give your organization that incremental value needed when you are first integrating dynamic solutions.

Last-Mile Logistics

Did you know that e-commerce return rates comprise 20% of total orders? Did you know that 84% of shoppers are unlikely to purchase again after a bad experience with an e-commerce company? Did you know that the final stage of delivery of a product makes up 53% of total shipping costs?

As changes in consumer demand continue to accelerate, warehouses and distribution centers are looking at how they can handle quicker order processing and faster delivery, especially in the area of last-mile logistics.

For the uninitiated, last-mile logistics – also known as last-mile delivery – is a supply chain industry term that examines how a product travels from a distribution center to its final destination, typically a consumer. To meet the changing demands of consumers, the goal of last-mile logistics is to transport an item in the quickest way possible. However, this stage is often the costliest in the fulfillment process.

What Challenges are Seen in Last Mile Logistics?

The challenges that need to be overcome in last-mile logistics are typically associated with cost, timeliness, and customer satisfaction. Deliveries that feature more stops lead to more time spent before the product gets to the end-user. Urban areas do not offer the speed and fuel efficiency that interstates do, so costs add up. Also, product returns lead to higher operating costs and lower profit margins – whether those are built into a product’s prices or not generally depends on the type of industry from which the product is ordered.

What is the Typical Response to Improving Last Mile Logistics?

In response, warehouses and distribution centers turn to micro-fulfillment centers, typically closer to urban areas, to cut down on the time and cost of delivery. We break down how micro-fulfillment centers help companies meet these new expectations here in greater detail. However, the general idea is to supply these centers will a high volume of similar, regularly ordered products.

Typically, these products are small, relatively inexpensive items such as headphones, apparel, and other goods you may see at lower prices from e-commerce retailers. Because they have such a high volume of orders, these items are stored closer to the consumer. Without micro-fulfillment facilities, these items are stored in large warehouses that were previously designed to fulfill larger orders.

Changing the Way Facilities Support Staging

To facilitate a quicker delivery, more and more we are seeing independent delivery drivers with a lesser dependence on the big shipping organizations like FedEx, UPS, or the USPS. This shift in staging necessitates a change in outbound flow systems. Because companies are using these contracted drivers, the equipment and fulfillment processes within facilities require different methods to get the packages to the independent, often-smaller delivery vehicles, which then gets the product to the end-user quicker. Companies using this newer model allows more organizations to keep up with the e-commerce giants of the world and facilitates a modern delivery method.

Why Use Micro-Fulfillment Centers?

When those smaller, single item orders are placed in a more massive warehouse, the fulfillment process takes longer and is more expensive. The products are further away from masses of population in these transportation hubs, but they also become burdensome to pick because the opportunity cost of picking these items becomes too high. For instance, an employee could pick a single pair of headphones in a similar amount of time that the warehouse could fulfill an order for an entire pallet of products. The value proposition becomes clear: micro-fulfillment centers are smaller, more cost-effective, and offer quicker turnarounds than their big-box warehouse counterparts.

How Can We Help?

To cut down on the cost and time spent on fulfilling orders, companies are setting up these micro-fulfillment centers at an increasing rate. Some companies are even converting abandoned retail stores to serve in this capacity. As they are being built or adapted, they are developed with a high level of technology & automation. While that is certainly a viable option, it can be more expensive than what the new facility truly needs. Through a combination of dynamic, technological, and storage solutions, these centers can be built at a fraction of the cost that one may see, compared to a fully automated facility.

We have years of experience working with our clients in finding the right mix of storage, dynamic & technology solutions to suit their needs now, with the capacity and flexibility to grow in the future. Storage Solutions can work with you to turn these complex logistical conundrums into profitable decisions that can help your company save resources and stay focused as you transition into these micro-fulfillment centers.

Consumer demand is not slowing, and neither is the competition. To meet needs, it is essential to stay up to date with the latest trends and solutions being developed to support changes in the supply chain. With Storage Solutions, you have a helping hand to guide you to ensure your decisions are simple, smart, and strategic for your organization.

Inventory Strategy Supply Chain Strategy

If 2020 has offered us one lesson, it would have to be that the only certainty we can count on is uncertainty. This lesson is especially true in the supply chain industry. Between the COVID-19 crisis, changing attitudes toward China, wildfires, and the meteoric rise of e-commerce, the organizations within the supply chain have been tasked with reacting to many changes.

These disruptions caused a shortage of supply in product availability, leading to warehouses being emptier than usual. Other companies – mainly retailers – shut down altogether. However, they already had inventory on the way, which caused a spike in stock within distribution centers.

2020 was a wake-up call for the supply chain industry.

Indeed, there were changes happening already, including the rise of e-commerce. Many companies were heading down the e-commerce path; however, there seemingly was time for companies to adapt to new products, practices, and processes that could allow themselves to continue operating in suboptimal methods. However, the pandemic threw gas on the fire, so to speak, and caused everyone to react quickly to another new challenge.

The companies who survived and thrived during this tumultuous year had previously adopted solutions geared around being flexible and adaptable to changes. There was less of a learning curve because they were already positioned to make nimble changes in their operations.

Near-Shoring

One major step companies are taking to adapt to the “new normal” of the supply chain is near-shoring or sourcing goods closer to the sale point. According to The Innovation Enterprise, 32% of North American and European manufacturing and distribution companies either have or are about to near-shore, with 48% of companies saying they plan to within the next three years.

They cite the reduced shipping time and cost, along with an increased response time as the primary reason to take this step – two direct benefits associated with adjusting operations to meet consumers’ changing expectations.

Adding Safety Stock Inventory

In response to not having enough of particular products with a surge in demand, companies are changing their inventory strategies on safety stock. This change is especially real for necessary products – think of how toilet paper was in high demand during the pandemic outset.

If the supply chain is disrupted, companies need to be able to continue operating in response.

Each company and each industry will have its own calculations of what that safety stock needs to be according to its own order volume and replenishment frequency. However, we are hearing those calculations are changing rapidly to accommodate potential future disruptions.

Increasing Storage Density

To go hand in hand with the increase in safety stock goes an increase in storage density. With these recent changes in supply chain strategies, how much you store, and what you are storing may look different. Products with high order volumes or products that need to get to customers quickly are being stored at higher reserve storage levels. Warehouses are being tasked with increasing storage without increasing their footprint, and high-density storage options like pushback racking or pallet flow racks are ideal solutions in many settings.

Optimization of Pick Processes

In alignment with the acceleration of e-commerce, companies are looking at how they are handling pick processes. More than ever, the entire process is being evaluated, from the design and layout of a facility to the level of automation throughout the facility. Ultimately, warehouses will be holding more SKUs in inventory as SKU proliferation continues in many organizations. This development requires that a facility is optimized for storage and material flow.

We are also seeing more facilities adopt forward pick strategies – such as pick modules – to improve fulfillment speeds. More now than before, there will be some type of automation involved at this point as well, including autonomous mobile robots picking on the ground level, with storage above.

What’s Next?

The companies who need help the most are doing everything from storing products in trailers on their property to using the space designed for forklifts for storage – some are even storing products on their docks. They are struggling to pick and ship efficiently, causing customer service disruptions. These challenges cause labor costs – including overtime – to rise as a percentage of their sales.

One of the things we have learned over the last six months is that there will always be disruptions. Whether those disruptions come in the form of global pandemics, fires, or natural disasters, we know the best action an organization can take is to get ahead and be prepared. We can help. Give us a call – we would love to learn about the challenges your business is seeing and pair them with solutions that help them be nimble, flexible, and ready to adapt as the next new challenge arises.

Wire Cages Wire Partitions

Wire cages and wire partitions are common solutions for warehouses and distribution centers in which something needs to be protected, or access needs to be restricted. They are great for several uses within a facility and can essentially be constructed to fit any need you may have to keep individuals away from an area or keep something within a space.

These are simple, cost-effective solutions that offer operations managers additional controls over valuable products or infrastructure and keep employees safe by restricting access to areas of your facility to only the individuals who need to be in that area.

Common uses include:

  • Tool/Storage Cages: Keep your expensive or specialty tools away from those who do not need to use them with restricted access.
  • Driver/Building Access Cages: Keep unnecessary people from traveling the floor of your facility by limiting access at public-facing doors.
  • DEA Cages: The United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has specific requirements that need to be met to physically secure Schedule III – V controlled substances. These cages are ideal for pharmaceutical and medical companies, legal drug warehouses, and more.
  • Server Cages: Protect your information technology equipment like servers, routers, and more away from potential damage or accidents.

These products are incredibly popular because of the ease of installation – cages can typically be installed at a lower cost and quicker than other area restriction methods. Additionally, these products can be adapted to fit whatever need you may see. For example, custom colors are often available, custom locks can be added to your cages, and adjustable panels or doors can also be constructed if there is a need within your business.

Need to Know More?

Our team of experts has decades of experience in outfitting warehouses and distribution centers of all sizes with wire cages. We know how these products can be customized to fit the needs of your operations. Give us a call today, and we would be happy to connect you with the appropriate solutions for your facility for today’s needs and beyond.

Productive Budget Uses

As we enter the fourth fiscal quarter of the year, we are often talking with clients about quick, simple additions, products, and new initiatives to try with the remainder of their annual budget. As operations managers look toward 2021, there are typically several options that can increase productivity, keep employees safe, or offer new benefits to your operations.

Whether you are sitting on $3,000 or $300,000, closing out the year on a productive note is a pivotal way to build momentum to start next year on a positive note. After a tumultuous year like 2020 – one that offered (and still offers) a high degree of uncertainty, this may be an excellent time to see a return on a relatively minor investment.

Below are four of the most common suggestions we offer our clients when they talk to us about the challenges they see in today’s environment with an eye on utilizing the remainder of their allocated budgetary funds.

Rack Additions to Support Facility Volume

Carton Flow FlextrakAmong the most common challenges we see from our clients is finding new and creative ways to increase storage volume and quicken the fulfillment process without expanding the facility’s footprint. Adding rack additions that can support a more efficient pick process is an easy way to see a return on investment without breaking the bank. One example of this would be adding carton flow systems or replacing full-width roller tracks with polycarbonate skate wheel tracks. Why? The beds formed with the latter option creates a full flow bed, adding flexibility without needing to reconfigure your racking. You can learn more about the pros and cons of different carton flow systems here.

Safety Products Focused on Employee Protection

driver-cagesWe have recently highlighted a group of warehouse safety products that assist facilities in adjusting to “the new normal” we are all experiencing. From building access cages to automated smart disinfection solutions, there are various products available to keep your employees safe. In a world where operations managers are looking to reduce labor costs and labor uncertainty, these products can offer a quick return by keeping your associates active and productive.

Safety Products Focused on Rack Protection

Safety Equipment and ProductsThe old phrase, “prevention is better than the cure,” certainly pertains to warehouse management. By installing warehouse safety products like building protector columns, end-of-aisle protectors, safety guard rails, or upright protection, you can prevent damage to your equipment that may arise from forklift accidents or improper storage methods. Our design consultants have decades of experience in seeing what products are ideal for any distribution center, and we’ve worked with businesses across North America as a trusted ally in their safety efforts.

Damaged Rack Repairs and Replacements

Damaged RackBy following the Rack Manufacturers Institute’s guidelines, rack safety surveys should be conducted annually at the very minimum. However, in warehouses with high traffic areas, narrow aisles, transfer aisles, or cold environments, the RMI suggests performing these surveys as frequently as once per month. If you have damaged equipment, we can recommend both pre-owned or new equipment, based on your needs. The preowned equipment we store in our 330,000 square-foot warehouse is protected from the elements and has all passed our Certified Pre-Owned standards, offering additional savings to the distribution centers looking to save on their replacement costs.

Let’s Talk!

Wherever you are in your project planning stage, we are here to offer advice and solutions to suit your needs. We are always looking for new ways to support our partners and clients, and whether you are planning that major project in 2021 or just looking to end 2020 on a positive note, we are ready to get started. Give us a call today!