Tag Archive for: pallet runner

Engineering Consulting Services Project Spotlight

A longtime client in the manufacturing industry approached us after acquiring a new facility in the Midwest, where they were hoping to relieve storage and distribution stress on other manufacturing sites after developing a new product line. They were unsure of what they needed for storage methods for this new line and looked to us to provide expertise in the area. So, we proposed evaluating their data associated with the new product and working to determine their storage needs.

After learning about their unique needs and goals for this new line, our sales and project management teams collaborated with our Solutions Engineering group to investigate any potential options beyond traditional storage methods that could help them not only optimize their storage but dramatically improve their operations as well. The customer had the goal of storing as much product in the building as possible, and we knew the best way to help them do so was by creating a roadmap through a phased-in data-centric approach.

While they did not have all the data needed for a complete analysis, we used our operational experience and industry knowledge in engineering solutions to fill in the gaps. We took that data, classified their SKUs, and assigned growth factors to each to understand their short-and-long-term storage needs as they grew.

In developing this roadmap, our Solutions Engineering and National Accounts teams enlisted multiple partners to provide different options available with a mix of storage and dynamic solutions, with a plan for a return on these capital expenditures attached. For this project, the breakdown contained options including single selective rack, dense storage options, pallet shuttles, and automated storage and retrieval systems (AS/RS) solutions. We also provided quotes on installation time, labor costs, and alternate layouts that could affect how those labor costs would grow with additional throughput.

After sitting down with this client and learning their unique challenges, we decided on an option that fell somewhere between the least expensive and most costly. Our client wanted a long-term solution that fits their business model and didn’t require the construction of a new warehouse sooner than necessary. By factoring in their needs and intimately knowing the challenges of constructing a new warehouse, we helped them reach the best decision for their business.

For the ultimate solution, we looked at the labor costs that came with manual picking and measured that against the capital expenditure of developing a 110-pallet-deep pallet shuttle storage system, which may be the longest in North America to store over 46,000 pallets. The solution also contained nearly 6,400 pallet positions for very narrow aisle (VNA) racking, and floor stacking for over 5,000 pallets.

In evaluating the 110 deep pallet shuttle lanes, Storage Solutions’ engineering team calculated the labor savings of the long lanes vs shorter lanes that would be rotated 90 degrees. The engineering team determined that the long lanes would reduce forklift travel by 500 feet per pallet. That design and engineering solution ultimately increased storage capacity and minimized the additional labor required as throughput forecasts increased. This approach led to a labor savings of $625,000 per year, reducing the client’s time to receive a total return on their investment. Best yet, we were able to model reaching that ROI in under three years, despite not choosing the least expensive option.

We use this real-life situation to highlight that we act as a true partner to those we work with, meaning we are sitting there with you, not “across the table” from you. Instead of telling you what to do, we develop transparent, strategic options, and we ensure that our clients fully understand each option.

Because of the operations experience on our engineering team, we understand how the solutions that were chosen to operate in real-world settings, not just in a theoretical environment or because of rigid partnerships. Plus, as a partner, we can provide long-term project management support as installation occurs to ensure the right result is delivered on time and on budget.

Scope of work included:

  • Engineering Consulting
  • Installation
  • Project Management
  • 4,500+ Bays of Racking
  • 165,000+ Pallet Positions

Want to learn more about past projects we have completed? Check out other case studies from a variety of project types across several industries.

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!