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!

Cantilever Rack Shelving

At Storage Solutions, we pride ourselves on finding creative solutions for our clients through our “Simple. Smart. Strategic.” approach. We work with our clients to uncover their unique challenges, then turn around and provide solutions tailored to address those challenges while factoring in opportunities for future growth.

In speaking with one of our clients, we discovered a unique situation that required some out-of-the-box thinking. They were looking to increase picking efficiency in several of their facilities that moved small cube, slow-moving products. They had a situation in which one or two pallets would take up a ton of floor space, limiting the fluidity they needed to optimize their pick process.

So, in speaking with our clients and listening to their challenges, we walked the facilities and examined their order data. We identified several storage solutions that would benefit their entire footprint including installing structural racking with carton flow and adding pick positions along the way. Because we took a holistic approach to their operations, we were able to think outside the box a little and identify creative solutions to best facilitate those slow-moving products.

Our solution was to integrate cantilever shelving, a product that is becoming popular in the e-commerce sector. We took the floor-level bays and replaced the pallet positions with cantilever shelving, which is connected to the pallet rack uprights. This configuration gives all the benefits of shelving on the floor level while making the best use of the vertical capacity.

To maximize storage cubic utilization and storage capacity within the facility, we took a traditional pallet rack structure and modified it at the ground level, adding some accessories to incorporate shelving. This setup still allows the storage of pallets above that, so the only limitation on storage capacity is the height of the facility itself. This solution provided a near-custom fit and created a cleaner, neater working environment for the employees.

With this answer, we were able to get these small-cube, slow-moving objects on a shorter pick path, while condensing the storage in that area instead of hand-stacking products on a beam. Because of the nature of the size of the items being stored, we were able to place twice as many items in the same amount of space because you are utilizing the shelf space better.

We had seen this solution work elsewhere, particularly in each-pick or case-pick operations, but it is a solution that we do not see utilized as often as it could – or should – be. From a similar cost standpoint, one could put actual shelving units in those pallet positions, but sizing becomes an issue, which leads to a clunkier work environment (for the lack of a better term).

What Can We Do for You?

We are able to find creative solutions like integrating cantilever shelving into pallet rack because we provide our solutions based on hearing our clients’ unique challenges and addressing them head-on with strategic solutions for which they don’t have to pay out of the nose. We form trusted partnerships through this approach; we deliver results.

If you are in need to increase your storage capacity, operational efficiency or introduce new technologies to improve your processes, give us a call and let us learn more about what challenges you are seeing in your facility. We can work with you to get you started in the right direction, even if it is a little off the beaten path.

Using the Right Pick Module

As an increasing number of distribution centers and warehouses adapt to rapidly changing times, pick modules have become more popular as systems to increase storage utilization and labor efficiency. Due to changes in consumer demand, orders are becoming smaller, and expectation between the time an item is ordered and when it is delivered continues to shrink.

In turn, this new dynamic is causing retailers to require less inventory at their stores physically. Warehouses are responding by shifting to store a wider variety of products and SKUs. So, to make fulfillment quicker and easier when inventory grows broader and more profound, pick modules are being widely adopted to support the changing environment.

Our friends at UNARCO Material Handling, Inc. do a great job of explaining the functionality of these systems:

“The idea behind the Pick Module is optimum flow efficiency. Palletized loads are moved by gravity through the system before being broken into cartons and pieces, then sent to pick areas and finally shipped to the consumer. Technology, coupled with integrated conveyor and sortation systems, direct the flow of in-bound product through the order fulfillment stage.”

Industries of all types have seen pick modules improve the operations of their distribution centers. Any facility that processes small-parts or small order fulfillment – think about parts distributors or e-commerce companies – can particularly benefit from adopting pick modules.

Ultimately, it comes down to getting workers more comfortable, ergonomic access to these smaller picks & using automation to deliver the work to workers to minimize travel in the operation. The pick module systems can be designed to fit the needs of the stored parts and how they are picked. So, which style of pick module is the best for your business?

Shelf-Supported Pick Module

Pick modules that utilize rivet or steel shelving offer a degree of customization to support storage capacity optimization. Each shelving unit can be customized to fit whatever product is stored there, which is useful in warehouses that process many similarly-sized items or variations of the same product. They are relatively cost-effective. However, both rivet and steel shelving are considered less durable than pallet rack supported systems. You can learn more about the differences between the rivet and steel shelving here.

Rack-Supported Pick Module

Pick modules configured with traditional pallet racking offer managers the heaviest-duty of the various styles. While they also are the most costly to invest in, they also provide the longest-term solution, because you are essentially designing a system that can be flexible to suit your needs as you grow. By working with a design consultant with years of experience in storage design, you can account for potential growth from your organization, allowing you to easily reconfigure your pick module when bringing in new customers and products.

Pick Module with Storage Bins

Storage bins are an additional method of improving your spatial capacity within a pick module. Among the smallest storage mediums available, containers help keep similar items in one area without intermingling with different products. Typically, they are useful when you want to pick very small products that are not easily contained by packaging, as opposed to full-cases or large cube eaches. They are available in various colors and sizes to best utilize the storage space and make picking easier for the worker.

Light Duty Cantilever Shelving Pick Module

Light-duty cantilever shelving is among the most cost-effective storage solutions for pick modules. Primarily the cantilevered design offers uninterrupted shelving, which can be configured to whatever height provides the most vertical utilization. The world’s most popular online retailers utilize light-duty cantilever shelving because their shelves can span hundreds of feet without wasting inches between racking. Because they process such a high volume, each wasted inch can add up across thousands of shelving feet.

Are You Ready?

Whether you are looking to adapt to changing consumer demand or looking to adopt efficient tools to improve your fulfillment processes, we are here to help. Our team of storage experts can work with you to learn more about your business, what unique challenges you may face, and then create solutions tailored to suit your needs. Give us a call today!

Fulfillment Strategy

Good news! Your business is growing! Now, what do you do?

Growth in business is often nonlinear. Instead, growth comes in stages. Like a staircase, businesses grow until it is time to invest in more people, technology, or equipment needed to advance to that next stage. Then, repeat.

Usually, the move to each new “stage” occurs when the cost of labor becomes higher than the cost associated with investing in new equipment. Especially when it is time to make that jump from “small” to “midsize” business, managers often debate which investment they need to make.

For those businesses in any growth stage, there are some excellent fulfillment optimization tools out there. These tools are mature, proven pieces of equipment and/or technology with a proven return-on-investment attached.

Let’s take a look at a few that we have seen be particularly useful to improve warehouse operations:

Modular Pack Stations

Modular pack stations are simple workstations that allow packers to efficiently right-size a box to a series of products, add void-fill, tape, and send down a conveyor to shipping once packed. A proper modular pack station will have everything ergonomically located and within arm’s reach from a packer. These pack stations optimize product flow, boost productivity, and improve your packing area’s floor space by keeping everything clean and organized. Workers are happier because they have everything they need at their fingertips, and accessories like ergonomic floor mats can be added to absorb shock and take the stress off joints.

Gravity Flow Racks

Gravity Flow Racks are perfect for packing environments in which identical kits are created from the same sets of products. The racks are comprised of a mobile cart with angled flow wheels on each level that allow gravity to deliver the next part in line to you seamlessly. If you have a gravity flow rack next to a pack station or area, you could put all of the components one would need for a day’s worth of packing, and then allow the packer to ergonomically access whatever part is required next. These are mobile, sturdy, and adjustable, with the ability to be accessorized to meet whatever challenges your worker has.

Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs)

Automated material handling is another resource available to improve productivity in picking areas. Our partners at Fetch Robotics, a leading provider of On-Demand Automation, offer AMRs that do not require an integration with a WMS/WES and can be programmed to move carts from the storage/kitting area to the point of use line side. The carts could also be programmed to pick up packing materials or totes and return them to another area of the warehouse to be reloaded with new products/packages.

Value-Added Solutions via Simple Conveyor Lines

Conveyor lines offer a dynamic solution to improve productivity, quality assurance, and safety for a warehouse or distribution center. Conveyors also can give facilities the ability to move totes at higher speeds. However, conveyors bring with them the opportunity to add Value Added Services (VAS) to your packing process. VAS includes items like coupons, magazines, or marketing pieces that encourage the end customers to make another order. Adding VAS through conveyor has become increasingly popular in recent years and has helped e-commerce companies stand out among their competitors.

Pick-to-Light / Put-to-Light Solutions

Pick-to-Light and put-to-light technologies help with order accuracy and fulfillment speed by indicating when a specific product needs to be placed in (or picked from) a specific area. We recently put a spotlight on these technologies in an earlier blog (https://storage-solutions.com/pick-to-light-put-to-light-systems/), but these systems have proven successful for businesses in e-commerce or direct-to-consumer industries in which there is a high volume of orders.

Let’s Talk!

While these products and technologies all may vary in their ideal use for your business, they are all mature pieces of equipment with proven returns-on-investment attached. There may not be one perfect solution for you, but rather a combination of solutions that can custom fit your operations while leaving room for growth. If you need help getting started or making that decision to hit the next stage of your business growth, give us a call, and we can help find you solutions for every square foot of your facility.

Creative Picking Solutions

Warehouse managers can take solace in knowing that they may not have to reinvent the wheel when it comes to evaluating their picking strategies. There are some simple-yet-creative picking solutions available that can improve productivity, increase order accuracy, and reduce labor costs associated with the fulfillment process.

Identifying these simple, smart, and strategic solutions becomes even more critical as more warehouses and distribution centers adjust their operations to meet the ever-changing dynamics of the world we live in. We often see warehouses operating under the mindset of “if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it.” However, those working under that mindset may be overthinking – or underthinking – how to improve their operations. By finding the solutions that can deliver a near-immediate return-on-investment, managers can quickly and effectively improve the processes for their workers without breaking the bank.

Let us look at some of the simple, creative picking solutions that can smooth your processes:

Corrugated Bin Boxes

Corrugated boxes are like your typical, everyday cardboard boxes. However, they differ in that corrugated boxes are made up of three cardboard layers that make the boxes more durable, cost-effective, and offer a higher strength-to-weight ratio. They are created to be more heavy-duty than the boxes that may come to your home from an e-commerce giant like Amazon.

Because of their construction and heavy-duty nature, they are stackable, creating a better storage density for the picking items.

Corrugated Plastic Bin Boxes

Corrugated plastic bins offer pickers a lightweight but durable receptacle that is attractive, stable, and cost-effective. The layered design is similar to corrugated boxes and similarly provides a higher durability level than traditional boxes and bins. Corrugated plastic also does not absorb moisture and is dust-free, making it an ideal option when cleanliness is essential for a pick process.

High-Density Modular Storage

By incorporating high-density storage shelving, like UNEX’s Speedcell solution, workers can maximize their space, pick orders faster, and increase their order accuracy. These high-density storage options consolidate your picking area by dramatically increasing pick faces, bringing a higher SKU density, allowing for less travel and less time searching for the appropriate location.

Goods-To-Man Automation Solutions

The prospect of introducing automation seems like too large of an investment, but products like OPEX’s Perfect Pick® system offer a scalable goods-to-person picking solution that increases the pick process’s rate and efficiency. This, and similar systems, provide a low-risk entry to automation because you are introducing automation aisle-by-aisle to learn early if this investment is right for your operations. There are other options, like the Exotec system from our partners at Conveyco, that can bring a simple automation level to your picking process. These automated systems bring a high degree of sophistication to your operations and can be game-changers in the right situation.

Learn More, Start Today

We are here to help your warehouse incorporate solutions – big or small – to support your operations and keep your facility running optimally. You can introduce manual solutions that have a lower cost to entry and are easier to implement, or you could add more automation that brings with it a higher price and requires more training but brings a higher level of efficiency. Ultimately, the key is to find the right solution for where your operations are at.

If you are interested in these simple, creative picking solutions, or you like the idea of improving your warehouse’s operational efficiency, give us a call, and our team of experts can speak with you and identify solutions to improve the speed, safety, and accuracy of your operations.

Roll-Out Pallets

Did you know that, according to the National Safety Council, overexertion causes 35% of all work-related injuries? This type of damage is, by far, the most significant contributor to workers’ compensation costs at more than $15 billion and is also the top reason for lost workdays.

Also, repetitive movements, such as lifting and lowering, account for 34% of work-related injuries.

Let’s face it; how often have you seen employees having to bend or lean into racking to pick or load their pallet positions? By installing roll-out pallets into existing racking, you can prevent employees from having to bend or lean under racking beams. These pallets feature an ergonomic, smooth roll-out that provides easy access to full pallet positions.

Roll-out pallets are easily installed into any style of existing racking. Plus, our partners at Roll Out Racks offer a nationwide turnkey service, meaning they are available to help you service your racking anywhere in North America. They also provide quick delivery of in-stock sizes.

Some other benefits include:

  • Designed for any structural and roll-formed racking
  • Ergonomic access to the full surface of pallet positions
  • Installed easily to any existing racking – less than 10 minutes
  • 42’’ or 48’’ deep In-Stock throughout North America
  • Engineering Services available upon request throughout North America

If you are looking to improve the ergonomics of your workplace, give us a call. Our experts are on hand to share how these roll-out pallets can keep your employees safe and healthy, all while reducing labor inefficiencies in your operations.

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.

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.

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.