Storage Solutions Partner Video

Imagine if one partner could outfit your entire warehouse with the best equipment and a custom strategy to increase efficiency, drive revenue, and impact your bottom line.

Storage Solutions offers a variety of options. From some of the more simple items like pallet racks and mezzanines, to picking solutions like carton flow and picking methodologies that increase productivity in your facility with improved fulfillment speeds.

We work with companies all across the country, managing and supplying every project with everything needed to drive success. Using our simple, smart, and strategic approach to every project, Storage Solutions makes sure to put the best solutions for your facility In place the first time.

So if you need a dense storage solution to get more product in the same amount of space or if there’s a need for specialty solutions for high seismic zones or storage that allows you to handle 2 pallets at a time, we’re the partner you’ve been looking for. At Storage Solutions, we believe that real value comes from solving problems, and you deserve a partner that brings you solutions.

Warehouse Safety Solutions

“That will not happen in my warehouse. Our operator training programs are too effective. I do not want the added costs in my bid.”

Look, accidents happen.

Warehouse workers are especially susceptible to injury because of the nature of their occupation. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, warehouse workers are getting injured at a rate of 5.1 injuries per 100 workers annually, according to the most recently reported statistics.

While accidents involving forklifts garner much of the attention related to warehouse injuries, falling objects are much more likely to cause serious head and brain injuries. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), 93 people died in the U.S. alone in 2016 from being struck by objects in a warehouse workplace.

Because of this type of injury’s severe nature, it is essential to evaluate your current practices and determine if there is a product or solution designed for prevention that you can integrate into your racking system. In addition to preventing workplace injury, these tactics can also prevent inventory loss in an accident or seismic activity.

Whether you are looking to retrofit your current setup or design a new racking system that includes additional safety measures, there are plenty of safety solutions out there to help you and your employees keep peace of mind while at work.

Backstop Beams

Pallet load stop beams – also known as backstop beams—act as a robust physical barrier on the backside of your pallet rack that prevents the product from being placed too far back where it could potentially fall over the edge. Because of the traditional racking configuration, where there may be some pallet overhanging the back beam in the bay, it gives your racking increased security against a potential accident.

The downside of these backstop beams is the cost associated. If you are not including backstop beams as a component of your initial design, there may be some reconfiguration required in your rack installation. The beams often sit back a few inches from your uprights and may interfere with flue space required by fire safety regulators.

Rack Safety Straps

As a less expensive alternative to backstop beams, rack safety straps can easily be installed to support your safety efforts. Straps are mounted to the back of your uprights, preventing pallets and packages from pushing into the flue space or falling off your rack’s back. While these options are sturdy to a point, they are certainly less secure than installing steel backstop beams into your rack. However, because of the cost and adaptability to various configurations, rack safety straps are a popular option to keep workers safe from falling objects.

Netting

Similar to rack safety straps, netting offers a relatively inexpensive option to decrease the possibility of objects falling from your racking system. The mesh acts as a barrier to keeping your products within its designated space. This barrier is especially beneficial in situations where the warehouse worker will need to see through the racking and when there may be loose products or boxes within a bay. However, like backstop beams, netting is best applied during the installation of your racking system.

Wire Backs

Wire back panels are another option to prevent workers from being struck by falling packages and objects. Depending on the gauge of wire used, these wire panels are customizable to help contain the size and heft of the loads in your warehouse. Wire back panels are most similar to netting as a containment option, though wire backs are more durable & better at containing heavier loads. Wire back panels are the most effective method for rack back protection & thus have a higher cost associated with their use.

Find Warehouse Safety Solutions to Fit Your Business

While each of these options has its benefits and drawbacks, increasing safety within a warehouse is paramount for warehouse and safety managers. If you are looking to integrate additional safety products and solutions into your operations, give us a call. We can help you navigate the regional regulations you may be subject to and offer low-cost, high-reward solutions that may augment the level of safety in your workplace. So much of finding the right solution depends on the configuration and layout of your racking. Let us guide you to the right solution for your warehouse.

Going beyond the minimum regulations –whether they are put forth by your municipality or insurance provider – provides benefits beyond the numbers. After all, the prevention of workplace injury will pay for itself compared to the cost of potential injury – or worse – to an employee.

Semi-Automated Storage Solutions

As the supply chain industry continues to evolve, workers are challenged with finding new and innovative methods to implement technology to reduce disruptions and increase operational efficiency in each facility. Warehouse managers in need of a dynamic yet straightforward solution should evaluate implementing semi-automated pallet carts with deep lane storage systems.

Semi-automated storage solutions – sometimes referred to as pallet runners, pallet shuttles, or pallet moles – allow for efficient organization of a warehouse because they can store, load, and retrieve full pallets. They are fast, easy-to-use, and adaptable enough for more inventory systems (First-In, First Out; Last-In, First-Out, etc.).

Essentially, the system centers around a cart that travels along pre-determined lanes within deep storage structures within a warehouse. While there may be some level of fully automated programming available, the carts typically are controlled via remote. An operator can control up to four carts simultaneously.

How Do Semi-Automated Deep Lane Storage Systems Work?

The functionality of a semi-automated deep lane storage system is relatively easy to understand. Once a pallet is placed onto the load position in the pallet rack by a forklift, the cart transfers it based on the direction of an operator with a remote control. From there, there are three main functions of a pallet runner:

  • Loading/Storing: After the pallet is loaded onto the rack, a cart will position the pallet for storage in the first available storage position in that lane. Semi-automated deep lane storage systems allow for very dense storage, with systems typically being 12-40 pallets deep per lane.
  • Unloading: Like the loading function, an operator can use a pallet runner as an unloading mechanism. The cart travels the lane until the first available pallet is located. Once located, the cart picks up the pallet and moves it to the unload end position in the rack where a forklift driver picks it up & loads it for shipment.
  • Continuous Loading/Unloading: This is like the manual loading/unloading function; however, the runner can be programmed to return to retrieve the next available pallet automatically.

What Are Other Benefits of Semi-Automated Storage Systems?

Semi-automated deep lane storage systems help maximize space in a warehouse while creating optimal storage density by using technology to load, store, and unload full pallets. This system comes as a benefit to your forklifts by moving wear-and-tear from those more expensive-to-replace capital expenses and onto this more versatile option. They also help reduce damage to both product and racking structure by keeping products within a lane and minimally exposed to hazards within the warehouse.

You can further outfit these semi-automated carts with additional features that may suit your operational needs, including integration in cold environments (from 30 degrees to -22 degrees Fahrenheit), wi-fi enablement, remote control charging capabilities, and more.

Want to Learn More?

If you have an interest in implementing dynamic solutions like semi-automated deep lane storage, we should talk. Storage Solutions experts are ready to share their knowledge, experience, and guidance in the installation and maintenance of these semi-automated storage solutions. We are one of the few United States-based integrators who can offer support and service 24-hours a day, seven days a week.

Contact us today to start developing your semi-automated deep lane storage project!

Dense Storage Solution

Warehouse managers are frequently challenged to find efficiencies in their processes, their workflows, and, most often, their storage capabilities. With dense storage solutions, warehouses managers get a solution for their problems in storage capacity by storing more product in less space.

However, finding the right storage solution may not always be as simple as asking, “Which mix of storage mediums gives me the best capacity?”.

There are several other factors to consider, including inventory style, pick process, product dimensions, and much more.

Whether warehouse managers are looking to assess and redesign their layout, or they are designing a new facility layout altogether, dense storage solutions are certainly a viable option for increasing capacity. While the three most popular options – drive-in, pushback, and pallet flow – are relatively simple to understand, which is the best for your operation? The answer may be easier to solve than you may think.

Pushback Racking

Pushback rack is a storage system that incorporates a sliding device to feed several pallets into the same pick location by “pushing back” the previous pallet. The pallets then gravity feed back to the pick location in the rack as they are removed. This type of dense storage lends itself well to a Last-In, First Out (LIFO) inventory style because, quite literally, the last pallet placed in the pushback rack is the first pallet available for picking. Typically, pushback racks are capable of storing up to six pallets at each pick location.

Drive-In and Drive-Thru Racking

Drive-in racking and drive-through racking are both similar in that they are designed for forklift operators to enter the racking system for picking purposes. However, the difference is that drive-thru racking allows the operator to pass through the rack. Drive-in/drive-thru racking is a popular storage medium because it is typically less expensive than other dense storage options. However, these styles of racking also typically accommodate less storage capacity due to ‘honeycombing’ or storage utilization challenges.

Pallet Flow

Another high-density storage system that works with storing multiple pallets in a rack is pallet flow. Pallets are loaded into the back of the rack and picked at the front. Sometimes referred to as gravity flow or dynamic flow, this system uses a slight decline plane to store pallets, allowing them to “gravity flow” toward the picking position as pallets are removed.

Which Dense Storage Solution is Best for You?

Ultimately, there are many factors to consider when determining the best mix of storage solutions for your operations. Our experts are here to guide you and walk you through the process to determine what is the optimal use of storage mediums for your facility. We have years of experience with hundreds of projects involving dense storage solutions and the expertise to match you with the equipment you need to meet today’s demands, while also factoring in growth potential.

Contact us today to get started at 800.474.2001 and let us talk about your current needs and how we can help you plan for integrating dense storage solutions.

Warehouse Safety Solutions

As states across the country begin to lift restrictions considering the COVID-19 crisis, managers are working on creating work environments with safety at the top of mind to prevent an expansion of the virus. This “new normal” will likely feature new processes and operations to which your team will need to adjust.

To make this transition smooth and void of disruption, managers need to take some time and evaluate tools, products, and processes that can help keep employees safe and productive.

Below, we have highlighted the warehouse safety solutions that warehouse managers are adopting to help keep their employees safe. If you are in this stage – or are about to be – let’s talk about your operations and see if there are any options that suit your needs. There are options out there that, for a relatively low cost, can keep your operations running smoothly while still maintaining an appropriate social distance.

Limit the Number of People in Your Warehouse with Building Access Cages

Building Access Cages are installed at the entry points of warehouses and are designed to control who can access your facility. By creating this additional level of security, you can help prevent unnecessary contact with the outside world and restrict the number of humans unnecessarily coming into contact with your staff. These cages are adaptable and offer the benefit of avoiding unwanted disruptions and keep people safe within your day-to-day warehouse operations.

Integrate Dynamic and Technology Solutions to Lessen Dependency on Human Interaction

Technological solutions, such as autonomous mobile robots (AMRs), offer several benefits to a warehouse’s operations, including an increase of safety. In zone picking situations, for instance, the robot can take a package from one destination to another, limiting human-to-human contact and keeping employees within safe, designated zones. Not only does that reduce wear-and-tear on the body, but it also allows your staff to remain productive while maintaining social distancing within the operation.

Keep a Safe Social Distance with Employee Separation Panels

Employee Separation Panels are clear, portable panels that can protect your team from human-to-human contact by physically creating a barrier between groups or individuals. With no timetable for how long we can anticipate social distancing requirements, this is a low-cost, high-reward tool to implement into your warehouse while giving your employees peace of mind and may prevent workers from missing additional time due to an illness they may have contracted. Plus, with cold-or-flu season seemingly always around the corner, this is a tool that can keep your team productive year-round.

Install Additional Machine Guarding to Separate Operational Groups

From a COVID-19 safety standpoint, fencing such as machine guarding can help keep groups together – and in some cases, separate groups entirely. For instance, if you have a maintenance area that may have a tool that another group uses, you could create a machine guarding barrier to prevent individuals from going into an area they were not intended to be within. This is a low-cost solution that prevents groups from intermingling during this time but can be easily removed once restrictions on social distancing are removed.

Reduce Bacterial Concerns with Antimicrobials Mats

Ergonomic mats are ideal solutions to protect your employees from the wear-and-tear that comes with working in a warehouse setting. By introducing antimicrobial matting – commonly found in foodservice and medical settings – you can help eliminate cross-contamination hazards on your floor.  These mats are produced with an antimicrobial additive that reduces bacterial contamination concerns. Because these mats are also designed for healthcare settings, you can trust that they are effective in curbing the spread and multiplication of microbes.

Decrease the Number of Touchpoints with Key Fobs and Keycards

Typically, we recommend that warehouses work with key fobs and keycards anyway to help reduce unwanted visitors and to ensure that your facility is always safe. By reducing the number of touchpoints –locations upon which every employee touch – you will limit the exposure to any harmful bacteria that may be living on that surface.

Supply a Modular Location for Changing Clothes

During the COVID-19 crisis, medical professionals across the country took steps to limit their family’s exposure to the virus by changing their clothes in a safe, secure location between the inside of their home and their hospital. With the same thought in mind, consider installing a modular building or cleanroom within your facility to allow your employees that same courtesy. This step will assist in keeping any clothes that may be carrying a virus contained within a secure area without introducing them to the warehouse setting.

Any Questions? Let’s Get Started.

If any of these solutions sound like they will be of benefit to your business, let us connect. Click here to speak with one of our Storage Solutions experts who can work with you to find the right solution to fit your operational needs.

National Safety Month Blog

Each year, June is designated as National Safety Month®, an observation of safety and injury prevention across all industries in the United States. Administered by the National Safety Council (NSC), the month is a reminder to examine processes and procedures within your organization.

This year, the NSC is focusing on four topics throughout the month, putting a spotlight on mental health, ergonomics, building a safety culture, and driving. Through their website and social media, they will also produce materials including educational articles, infographics, videos, and more, along with posting free collateral on their website.

Storage Solutions will also be participating with a focus on safety in warehouses and distribution centers. That increased awareness of safety products and procedures will include both for your workers, but for your equipment too.

We will also feature information on products and services offered through our partners that serve to increase safety by reducing opportunities for accidents and injuries within a warehouse setting. Some of the products and features will also help adjust to a post-COVID-19 working environment.

As you continue to read and interact with stories this month, we encourage you to adopt a “safety-first” mindset throughout the year. Whether you need safety supply or service, we are here to help you make your facility not only move product as quickly as possible, but as safely too.

For more information on our safety solutions, click here.

Narrow Aisle or Very Narrow Aisle

In previous posts, we have discussed how warehouse design is the foundation upon which an optimal operation exists. Finding the right mix of picking efficiency, storage capacity, and equipment is the key to an optimal workflow. The best time to plan for these efficiencies is at the design stage, whether you are starting a new warehouse or reconfiguring your current layout.

One variable to consider is the width of the aisles in your facility. Conventional aisles tend to be between 12’ and 14’ wide. However, some designs are optimized with narrow aisles, ranging from 8’ to 10’-wide. Even more extreme designs feature very narrow aisles, which can be less than six feet wide. With each degree of narrowness, storage capacity increases. However, as the width of your aisle decreases, so does picking efficiency (unless other pick methodologies or technologies are applied).

Finding that perfect mix can be challenging. However, there are a few key variables that, once decided upon, can point you in the right direction to fit the best design to meet your needs.

Conventional or Narrow Aisles? 

How frequently are forklifts going up and down your aisles? The answer to that question is probably the most significant determinant in adopting narrow aisles for picking products. If you need two forklifts – which typically vary between 4’ to 7’ wide – then narrow aisles may not be ideal for your operation.

However, all it takes is a simple calculation to see how much additional storage space you gain by switching to a narrow aisle. By reducing the width of your corridor, you can now fit more storage in your facility, and the transition from conventional to narrow aisles can bring an increase in storage capacity between 20-25%. Keep in mind, though, that there may be an increase in equipment costs if you need to outfit your operation to adapt to a narrow aisle. Also, your pick process may become less efficient because it may take more time to get from the storage area to your delivery area. These are all variables that we can talk you through as you evaluate your options.

How Narrow are Very Narrow Aisles? 

To an even further degree, very narrow aisles are an option for warehouses looking to get the maximum storage capacity per square foot. Very narrow aisles are typically between 5’6” and 6’-wide and can increase your storage capacity by up to 40-50% when compared to conventional aisle widths. That sizeable increase – imagine 1,500 pick locations instead of 1,000 – can mean a lot for certain types of warehouse and picking needs.

Very narrow aisles also typically require an investment, both in terms of additional equipment but also in outfitting your warehouse. Most lifts designed for very narrow aisles operate based on the magnetic strip (or wire guidance) embedded directly into the floor of your facility. However, if your operation relies on case picking, broken case picking, or each picking, then this storage design may be the best way to maximize your space.

Safety First, Safety Last

Lastly, in evaluating your options, keep in mind the experience level of your warehouse associates. They may have years of experience in operating forklifts in various warehouses with various levels of traffic. However, what happens when you reduce aisle size and increase potential traffic stops? Did you give them the proper training? Can you rely on them to navigate your new warehouse layouts? Anything “new” brings with it a safety concern for your warehouse associates and equipment.

Let an Expert Guide You 

There are many options when it comes to finding the best design for your warehouse layouts. Don’t worry. We have a team of experts with decades of experience in design and installation who have seen best practices in action and know that each operation is unique. If you are looking for some guidance, we are here to help. Call us at 800.474.2001 or submit a callback request, and we can talk about your warehousing needs and which storage solution is best for your operation.

Storage Solutions Vincennes Partnership 1

As of 2018, Plainfield, Indiana, boasted 50% of all warehouse jobs in Central Indiana, including employers such as Amazon, Walmart, and Foxconn. As the supply chain and logistics industries continue to grow in Central Indiana – and Hendricks County in particular – there is a high demand for training and education to maximize employment for skilled labor.

To support that educational demand, Storage Solutions has partnered with Vincennes University’s Logistics Training and Education Center (VULTEC) to introduce students to on-demand automation and its increasing role in warehouse operations.

Storage Solutions has loaned Fetch Robotics’ HMIShelf robot, a picking transportation solution, to the Vincennes center for training purposes. The robot works alongside warehouse associates to carry a wide range of bins, totes, and packages from multiple pick zones or locations to a packing area. The HMIShelf is designed to reduce associate travel time, increasing productivity, and lessening the hardship of employees who would otherwise be carrying the loads.

“As a Fetch Solutions Certified Provider, we can be at the forefront of implementing on-demand automation in warehouse environments,” explained Nathan Storey, Vice President of Operations at Storage Solutions. “Our partnership with Vincennes allows us to help students of all ages learn about how warehouses currently operate, but also be prepared to adjust to technological advances.”

For the next two years, students and visitors to the VULTEC can obtain first-hand experience with the autonomous mobile robot and see how it can assist in real-world applications in the supply chain industry. Whether it comes to programming or picking, students in the programs will likely be working with elements of warehouse automation in some form in their next jobs.

“We are thrilled to have Storage Solutions exhibiting their automated mobile robots at our training and education center,” explained Debbie Furnish, Warehouse Technician at Vincennes’ Logistics Training and Education Center.

“Partnerships like these help us put premium value to the educational opportunities we give to our students. These AMRs are part of the future of the industry, so it gives our students a leg-up to have that first-hand knowledge of how they work and how to work with them.”

THE VULTEC is a 30,000 square foot warehouse that combines a hands-on learning environment with classroom instructions. Students gain the knowledge base that makes them attractive to potential employers while providing the opportunity to apply their education using the latest equipment and technology.

For more information on the VULTEC, visit www.vulogistics.com.

Engineering-Permitting-Turnkey

The idea of climbing a mountain alone sounds daunting: Do you have the right supplies? Do you have enough endurance? What happens when the weather changes?

While managing a warehouse transition may not be as personally perilous as climbing a mountain, there are similarities in both requiring ample planning, preparation, and the ability to adapt as conditions change. They also have another thing in common: they become a heck of a lot easier if you have someone with experience there to guide you.

As part of our Turnkey Solutions, we offer our clients peace of mind by providing oversight for each component of a project. Our team of Project Managers and Project Coordinators consider project management, safety checkpoints, installation progress, permitting, and logistics with every partner across the country. We are in constant communication to ensure your entire project is delivered with the flexibility to change as things may change along the way.

Engineering a Solution with a Single Point of Contact

Our project managers’ relationship with your project begins before you even meet them. They are the team members who are running estimations on parts and equipment, finding the best solutions required to install each stage of the project. They are also working with our designers on preliminary engineering and design. In our world, engineering and design go hand-in-hand. Why not have a single person who knows the ins and outs of both?

Time and again, we hear from our clients how vital our turnkey solutions are to the success of a project. These project managers give our clients more command and control over projects because we know the status of all projects at any given time. Projects are delivered on time because our team has overseen hundreds of buildouts and understand how to anticipate the unexpected. Projects are delivered on budget because we are proactively managing potential hurdles along the way before they turn into costly change orders.

We know that coordinating vendors at your site is a challenging piece of the construction puzzle, but it is one piece that we know gets solved with anticipation, organization, and active communication with all stakeholders.

Navigating the Permitting Maze

Once a proposal becomes a project, our team has already begun creating a permit package, which acts as a roadmap of all the boxes that need to be checked along your project’s lifecycle. There we identify all the requirements, including fire codes, storage permits, structural permits, documents required for the Department of Homeland Security, and so much more.

Depending on the region, navigating the permitting portion of a project could be its own fulltime job. However, because we have worked with a wide variety of municipalities across the nation, our team learns, grows, and shares information on best practices on each project. For example, we understand how important each detail is in drawing submissions, which helps to eliminate unnecessary laps between the regulator and us. Because we spend so much time at the front of the process getting those details correct, the rest of the project can run as smoothly as possible.

Make the Best Use of Your Time

And what is the opportunity cost of doing all the permitting yourself? Do you call the building department or the city planner? What are the fire codes? Is the area under construction part of a seismic zone? When you are stuck on the phone trying to call around to find these answers – and figure out if these are the only questions you need to ask – you are spending valuable time that could be used on tasks more closely associated with your jobs. The Storage Solutions team already knows what questions to ask, whom to ask those questions to, and how to get the answers to the appropriate party. It is the Storage Solutions difference.

Let’s Get Started

Decisions typically come down to the value of your time. Because we are a trusted partner to our clients, we understand the intimate details of each proposal and have a head start on what is needed to get the project done. Our team is ready to get started and learn more about your upcoming project, whether it is a new building, a renovation project, or a relocation/removal situation. Call us today at 800.474.2001 or contact us here to speak with a Storage Solutions expert!

Double-Deep Pallet Rack Term

Double-Deep Pallet Rack is a style of dense storage consisting of selective pallet racking that has been constructed back-to-back to allow for higher storage density. This style of racking requires fewer aisles, which allows for increased flexibility in warehouse design options and an increase in storage space.

Double-deep racks can be installed in a conventional warehouse or any rack-supported building. These racks provide more significant utilization of warehouse space because they store loads of materials and have a narrow aisle design.

There are some disadvantages to utilizing double-deep pallet racking as well. Because the design is placing two racks back-to-back, a double-deep rack only features a 50% selectivity area. This lack of accessibility can lead to reduced productivity and require the use of more expensive life equipment, depending on the configuration.

Typically, double-deep racking is ideal for a client that is storing pallets in a Last-In, First-Out (LIFO) inventory rotation. It is especially suitable if that product is in high volume with limited available storage space.

If you are interested in implementing Double-Deep Pallet Racking configurations or other Dense Storage Solutions in your warehouse, contact one of our Storage Solutions experts to talk about increasing your storage capacity.