Posts

Storage Solutions for Third-Party Logistics Firms

One of the most common challenges we encounter with our third-party logistics (3PL) clients involves the ever-diminishing time expectation between when an end-user orders a product and when they think it should be at their door. To meet challenges associated with this trend, 3PL firms are consistently looking at ways to decrease pick time through storage and fulfillment processes.

For the uninitiated, the Material Handling Industry glossary defines a third-party logistics firm as “a business arrangement whereby logistics services, often including warehousing, are contracted to an independent business that specializes in such services and is not connected through direct ownership to the producer or factory requiring the service.”

Because a 3PL’s mission is to maintain profitable logistical operations of fulfillment within the facility – while not taking ownership of the products themselves – 3PL firms tend to prefer flexibility, scalability, and versatility. Typically, 3PLs are working on relatively short-term contracts with their clients (on average 1-5 years), so they want the ability to use the equipment for their current client on their next job.

3PLs are usually storing products for companies that fulfill small orders (for example, retail or e-commerce). This type of fulfillment is typically labor-intensive and costly, so finding the right mix of storage solutions is critical for optimizing operations. However, because their clients are frequently changing or renewing, 3PLs prefer standard solutions that can apply across various industries to allow these firms to be versatile in accommodating multiple pallets in multiple sizes if a client leaves or does not renew.

So, what are the standard storage solutions for 3PL? Let’s take a look:

Pallet Racking

Pallet rack is overwhelmingly the most common storage medium for 3PL firms. Traditionally, most of the industry will use a configuration of pallet rack at 54″ H x 40″ W x 48″ D with 2500-lb capacity beams, which covers most storage applications. That size is also ideal for shipping, as it allows shippers to be more efficient because they can optimally cube out a truck at that size with double-stacked pallets.

Small Parts Storage Solutions

To cover small parts storage, 3PLs rely on a massive amount of shelving and hand stack racks in their facilities. The products required to be most accessible will typically be at the floor-level, so sometimes those shelves are created by adding additional beam levels on the rack that currently exists (along with wire decking) to allow for optimal storage. If you do not have the racking above the shelving, you sacrifice valuable vertical storage space within the facility.

If more than one level of small parts storage is required, then we involve bin mezzanines. However, there are additional costs – both hard and soft — whenever other levels are constructed. Outside of the hard costs of the decking, lighting, sprinklers, etc., there is the soft cost of the additional travel time for the picker associated with the 2nd or 3rd level.

Vertical Reciprocating Conveyor (VRC)

When we introduce multiple levels within a 3PL facility, we typically enlist a vertical reciprocating conveyor (VRC) to assist with moving single-load products vertically for storage or for picking. They can carry pallets, carts, cartons, or products to pickers or for storage on different levels, saving travel time associated with walking up and down stairs. VRCs can be assembled using single or double masts, single or double rails, and even some models can travel on an incline/decline grade versus solely traveling perpendicularly to the floor.

Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs)

Because of the high cost and rigidity of traditional automation solutions, which are great for specialized, static retrieval and storage, most 3PLs avoid installing them. However, there are great on-demand automation solutions like autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) that can offer a great deal of support to 3PL facilities. AMR solutions are very portable, reconfigurable, and can be reprogrammed in a matter of hours versus the days or weeks it could take to disassemble and reconfigure some of the more extensive, static storage options. AMRs can improve pick speeds, lower labor costs, and provide other safety matters within most fulfillment operations. Plus, as needs change and the business grows over time, these solutions can scale and grow along with the organization.

Safety Solutions for Third-Party Logistics Firms

As with any installation, we recommend thinking through the safety of the employees, facility, and equipment within the design. After all, safety should be part of your operational philosophy, not just a mandate or requirement. When a project comes up, we provide warehouse safety solutions like mirrors, guard rails, signage, end-of-rack protectors, end-of-aisle protectors, and anything else that may be pertinent to operational safety. At the design and strategy stage, these can be afterthoughts, but we recommend getting everything you need when you begin designing storage solutions for 3PLs.

What’s Next?

While most 3PLs utilize some combination of the storage solutions listed above, we still see operations that require more robust set-ups like traditional conveyors, drive-in racking, and pushback rack. The size of the investment is typically determined by the client paying for the equipment.

Our team has decades of combined experience working with 3PLs across the country to deliver better storage options, quicker fulfillment processes, and greater order accuracy. We know that finding the right answer usually involves finding scalable, flexible, and portable solutions, all while being cost-effective.

We take that approach to every aspect of the fulfillment process, from storage and racking to the facility’s flow. If your third-party logistics operations could use a tune-up, give us a call today and let one of our experts learn about the challenges you face and provide solutions designed around your business’s unique needs.

Buy Used Warehouse Equipment SSI Warehouse

Our goal is to assist our clients with any type of warehouse transition. We understand that selling or moving your current material handling equipment such as pallet rack, shelving, mezzanine, conveyor, etc, can provide a large headache. We would like to help you resolve that issue.

Are you closing down or consolidating one or more of your facilities?  Let us buy your used pallet rack and other material handling equipment.  Are you opening a new facility, or changing locations?  We will help you transition to a new warehouse or redesign your current one.  We can help you save money on your warehouse redesign, and we also remove the hassle of having to tear down and move all of your equipment!

Are you having trouble deciding what kind of storage equipment is best for your needs?  Contact us today to get our free recommendation for your new operation!

Here is a brief list of equipment we would be interested in purchasing:

Pallet Rack:  selective pallet rack, drive-in pallet rack, drive-thru pallet rack, pushback pallet rack, cantilever rack, wire decks, etc.

Shelving:  open steel shelving, closed steel shelving, single rivet shelving, double rivet shelving, wire shelving, etc.

Conveyor:  gravity conveyor, power conveyor, skate wheel conveyor, roller conveyor, etc.

Pallet Rack Accessories / Safety Equipment:  row spacers, pallet supports, wire decking, column protectors, end-of-aisle protectors, column deflectors, guardrails, etc.

Pick Modules, Mezzanine, & Tape Machines

Well, that just about wraps up another Storage Solutions blog session.  Don’t forget to check out the clearance section of our website.  We are constantly adding new equipment, so be sure to take a few minutes to see if there is anything that catches your eye.

Used Conveyor Warehouse

conveyorFor a variety of reasons including foreclosure, mergers, acquisitions, or downsizing, companies may decide (or are forced) to consolidate and/or close some of their facilities in an effort to minimize expenses.  This process can be much more difficult than some might expect and can be the cause of some very large headaches if not handled appropriately.

However, Storage Solutions offers a number of services that will make your transition simple and easy.

  • In addition to selling new material handling equipment, we also purchase used material handling equipment.  This provides an easy option for any company that has been forced to close one or more facilities and liquidate its assets.
  • We also offer trade-in value for your used equipment, if you are looking to alter or modify the equipment in your current storage facility.
  • We have our own team of professional installers, which allows us to help make your transition into your new facility as seamless as possible.  Many companies hire third-party contractors to perform their installation and demolition services.  Our crews are specifically focused on installing and tearing down pallet rack and racking components.  This enables us to get the job done in a quick and efficient manner while maintaining an exceptional level of quality in our work.

Are you interested in learning more? Visit our “Relocation Solutions” page to learn how our warehouse experts will take care of your old facility and equipment so you can focus on everything else.

Buy Used Warehouse Equipment SSI Warehouse

pallet rackAs the industry continues to change rapidly in response to increasing delivery expectations as a result of e-commerce, warehouses, distribution centers, and fulfillment centers are looking for ways to increase profitability and productivity within their facilities. But along with the potential for industry growth comes a rise in steel prices, which inevitably have a profound effect on the costs of new warehouse material.

There is a hesitancy among some organizations when it comes to the idea of incorporating used materials into their warehouse solutions. Some used equipment suppliers will store used materials outdoors, where beams and uprights are exposed to the elements and can often develop rust. The great thing about Storage Solutions is that we store all of our materials (new AND used) inside our 330,000 square feet warehouse to ensure that everything we sell has maintained structural integrity.

Buying used warehouse equipment can have many benefits, most notably:

  1. Cost-Effectiveness: With steel prices on the rise and no stalemate in sight, purchasing completely new materials can put a damper on project budgets. When you purchase pre-owned pallet racks, you can get more bang for your buck without having to worry about jeopardizing the integrity of your operation.
  2. Avoid Lead Times: When you purchase new materials, there is almost always a lead time of 4-8 weeks before manufacturers can produce and ship their product. Whether you’re under a time crunch or bound by your budget, purchasing used equipment is the perfect solution.

While we know that used materials are never quite as good as new ones, our goal is to make sure that your used pallet rack beams and used pallet rack uprights are of comparable quality to what you would purchase new.

If you’re looking to save this spring, whether it’s on a warehouse consolidation, purchase of new warehouse equipment, or re-configuring a current operation, Storage Solutions has a solution for you. Contact our sales representatives at 866.474.2001–they’re ready and willing to get you what you need.

Pallet Flow Rack Explainer

What is Pallet Flow Rack?

Pallet flow rack is selective rack placed back-to-back to allow for more storage space. Inclined conveyor wheel sections are installed in the rack, enabling back-loaded pallets to flow via gravity to the front or pick face.

Pallet FlowPallet flow rack consists of:

  • Pallet Rack
  • Gravity Flow Rails
  • Gravity Flow Speed Controllers

How it works:

Flow rails slant towards the unloading side of the pallet rack, using gravity to move pallets from the loading side to the picking side for retrieval.  Flow speed controllers are used to control the speed of the pallet as it moves along the rails. Once one load is removed from the unloading side of the pallet flow racks, the next slides into it’s place.

Why Pallet Flow Rack?

Pallet flow rack is not only designed to save valuable floor space and cut down on labor, but it provides high-density storage with multiple order picking levels.  This system is what we like to call a First-In, First-Out flow system (FIFO), which ensures that the faces along the picking aisle are always stocked.

Does this sound like something you are interested in knowing more about?  Is it the perfect fit for your warehouse operation?  Give us a call at 866.474.2001 and one of our knowledgeable sales representatives will be able to help you get what you need!

We also do customizable warehouse configurations, so if a reconfiguration is in order, definitely be sure to contact us!

We recently completed a project for a new regional parts distribution center for heavy-duty mining equipment in the Southwest United States.

For this project, we had to configure a system that could accommodate various part sizes, ranging from small hardware (nuts and bolts) to extremely large and heavy items that need to be moved with an overhead crane. In response, Storage Solutions implemented a combination of bin shelving to handle the small parts storage, hand-stack rack locations for medium-sized products, and full pallet rack storage locations and decked cantilever for oversized and odd-sized products. Also, heavy-duty outdoor racking was installed for products stored in the yard.

SSI also completed all floor striping for bulk lanes, staging lanes, pedestrian aisle ways, and overhead signage. Miscellaneous additional solutions provided include:

  • Overhead Cranes – to move hefty products (over 10,000 lbs)
  • Floor Scales – to weigh inbound/outbound shipments with a capacity of up to 20,000 lbs.
  • Power Mobile Carts – to optimize worker efficiency for inbound receipt and outbound labeling process
  • Pack Stations – to optimize worker efficiency during pack out of small parcel and less-than-truckload (LTL) orders

Want to learn more about past projects we have completed? Check out other case studies from a variety of project types across several industries. Let Storage Solutions be your simple, smart, and strategic partner for any of your upcoming project needs!

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!

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.

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.

Pallet Rack Pushback Dense Solutions

Want to learn more about the pallet racks that we store in our 330,000 square foot warehouse in Westfield, IN? Keep reading to learn about our products and what our team can do for you!

What is Pallet Rack?

There are four main components of pallet racks. Those components are uprights, beams, pallet supports or wire decking, and row spacers. These are always kept in stock at Storage Solutions. Moreover, they can be used with different pallet rack designs.

There are also four different types of pallet rack construction/connection types. The most common type is a roll-formed pallet rack, which is typically manufactured in “teardrop” style and has a rivet connection where the beams connect to the upright. Another type is structural pallet rack, which is made of thicker steel c-channels and the beams are always bolted to the upright.

Pallet Rack Types and Designs

Pallet RacksHere at Storage Solutions, we stock different pallet rack types and designs. These different pallet racks can serve many purposes throughout your warehouse.

Some of the rack types include selective pallet racks. This is the most common pallet rack used, it has low density but high selectivity(accessibility to each item). In addition, we also stock the double-deep pallet rack, which is constructed back-to-back to allow for higher storage density, utilizing fewer forklift aisles. Another design is a push-back pallet rack, which uses gravity flow and inclined rails to make the placement and retrieval of pallets easy.

Drive-in/drive-thru pallet rack has a high density and low selectivity which allows for fewer forklift aisles. Forklifts can drive directly into the rack to drop off and pick up pallets. In addition, we also stock pallet flow racks. This design, which is driven by gravity, is equipped with wheels on sloped rails. This unique design allows the pallets to flow forward from the entry side of the rack to the opposite side of the rack for picking. The cantilever rack utilizes cantilevered arms to store long and narrow items.

In addition, if you want to see some images of our pallet rack types, you can view our visual glossary.

If you are interested in learning more about our pallet racks give us a call at 866.474.2001 or contact us here.