Tag Archive for: Pallet Flow

Food and Beverage Industry Storage

The food and beverage industry is a segment of our economy that nearly all Americans interact with daily. This industry is comprised of “all companies involved in processing raw food materials, packaging, and distributing them, including fresh, prepared foods, as well as packaged foods, and alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages,” per Global EDGE.

It is a unique sector in that, to truly maximize profits from their efforts, firms need to be operating in a way that maximizes the volume of throughput. Traditionally, these facilities are working on relatively thin profit margins – some even as low as 2% — so they are required to find fulfillment solutions that allow them to pack and ship their products as quickly as possible.

However, as labor unreliability grows and pick accuracy requirements increase, many of these companies are at a crossroads when it comes to optimizing their fulfillment operations. They are evaluating the question: “Is it time to introduce automation?”

Currently, they may be utilizing a less expensive storage system, choosing to instead rely on human labor for their fulfillment needs. However, they may be evaluating mini-load automated storage and retrieval systems (AS/RS) or pallet shuttle technology to help keep their costs-per-pick at a manageable level. However, automation can be expensive. Alternatively, some can look to goods-to-person fulfillment options that do not require infrastructure investment. The goal for these fulfillment centers is simple: maximize throughput and minimize labor costs to help increase their profit margins.

While the industry continues to evolve to keep up with ever-increasing expectations on faster fulfillment and order accuracy, some common storage types still emerge among the top food and beverage distribution centers across the United States.

Common Storage Solutions for the Food & Beverage Industry

Selective Rack

Selective pallet racking is by far the most common style of storage within food and beverage distribution facilities. Typically, in this industry, decisions are made quickly, and there is not much lead time on projects. Selective racking tends to be quicker to install than other racking styles, and it offers a more durable option, which is ideal in an industry that relies on forklifts to the degree that the food and beverage sector does.

While other integrators never change their specifications regarding their racking configuration, we have found a creative solution that offers some cost savings to our food and beverage partners. In storage racks that are several levels high, we often suggest that companies in the food and beverage industry use structural racking for the uprights and the bottom few beam levels – the ones used the most and most susceptible to forklift impact – and then switch to a roll-formed option for the remainder of the beam levels. Though roll-formed racking is less durable, it is also less expensive and thus can provide cost savings with little impact to functionality in this design.

Drive-In / Drive-Thru Racking

Drive-in and drive-thru racking are common in food and beverage storage environments because it adds a denser storage option than traditional selective pallet rack configurations. These racking systems allow companies to increase storage density by storing more pallets in a smaller area because they require fewer aisles from which to pick. Typically, that means up to 75% more space dedicated for pallets than a traditional selective rack. They are relatively less expensive on a per-pallet-position basis and are ideal for companies that rely on LIFO (last-in, first-out) inventory practices.

While this type of storage medium has been popular in this setting for years, we are noticing that fewer facilities utilize this style of racking as its primary storage means. As orders contain a smaller number of products-per-order, SKUs become smaller, and fulfillment times shrink because of quicker end-user expectations, facilities rely less on the drive-in and drive-thru racking as dense storage mediums.

Pushback Rack

Also designed primarily for LIFO inventory management, pushback rack is a dense storage system that allows materials to be stored within a lane, with pallets being pushed back as new inventory is added. Pallets are stored on a slight grade, so when a front pallet is picked, the design of the storage configuration allows rear pallets to gravity flow down the lane to be selected.

In food & beverage, when FIFO is managed using lot codes or date codes, pushback can be a solution to provide more density of storage while allowing for the maintenance of FIFO. Operating rules must be in place to support this approach, but it is often done successfully.

We have found that pushback rack systems are often designed for 2-deep or 3-deep storage for food and beverage storage and fulfillment centers. That makes the putting and retrieval faster and easier than in deeper 5-deep or 6-deep systems, which is critical in hastening the fulfillment process. Remember, companies within the food and beverage industry rely on throughput to maximize profits. So, as order profiles continue to get smaller with a wider variety of SKUs, this configuration supports optimizing the throughput of stored products.

Pallet Flow

Pallet flow racking offers additional storage density and labor savings when installed within a food and beverage distribution facility’s selective racking. Pallet flow consists of a back-to-back selective rack with lightly graded conveyor wheeled flow lanes installed on rails within the racking. This configuration allows back-loaded pallets to flow toward a pick face with the help of gravity to move the pallets from the loading side to the pick side.

Ideal for FIFO inventory management, this system ensures that picking aisles are always stocked, which means faster pick and load times for the facility. While other types of racking can hold between two and five pallets per racking configuration, pallet flow can facilitate between as many as twelve to fifteen pallets racks, depending on the system. Facilities can also customize the racks for optimal flow by designing the structure to the size and weights of their pallets, meaning pallet flow can be among the most efficient storage systems available for food and beverage distribution facilities.

It is also common in the food & beverage industry to see a combination of pallet flow on the ground level of the pallet rack with pushback on the upper levels. This approach allows for alternating pick aisles & replenishment aisles throughout the facility to maximize throughput from a picking perspective.

Mezzanines

Mezzanines are great additions to any warehouse or fulfillment setting because they are designed to create additional storage locations at both the floor and mezzanine levels. They can be designed to include multiple levels, adding additional pick locations with each pick level. Mezzanines are typically free-standing, rack-supported, or bin-supported, giving warehouses and fulfillment centers a durable solution to increase storage capacity without expanding their facilities’ footprint.

Platforms can be designed and installed at a fraction of the cost of expanding the facility, which is crucial to a business operating on already thin margins. They are custom-built to support the exact type of products stored within the facility and can genuinely increase fulfillment speeds when combined with a conveyor system that gives those who are not at ground level the ability to transfer their pick loads without traveling up and down stairs or an elevator.

Carton Flow

Carton flow systems have two significant benefits to food and beverage companies: improved picking speeds and increased storage capacities. Carton flow systems use gravity to push products through a pallet rack on roller tracks, meaning as an item is picked from the pick face, the entity behind it (usually the same SKU) is fed to the front, ready to be selected. These systems are often installed within standard pallet racks, with tracks installed on the beams with the assistance of hangers. They can be customized to fit multiple sizes, so different SKUs (and their respective packaging) can be accommodated, whether stored in cartons, bins, or boxes.

In the food and beverage industry, these systems are ideal for each picking, as it makes the picking process easier and quicker for pickers. Instead of searching a pallet for a particular product, carton flow can be installed on floor level with selective or pushback lanes above, giving better access to the quick-moving products while maximizing storage space & minimizing the amount of travel required to pick an order.

Pallet Shuttle Systems

In the food & beverage industry, it is common to have many pallets worth of inventory on hand in the distribution center for the fastest-moving items. It is also common to have a need for expensive temperature-controlled storage – typically cooler or freezer space. Pallet shuttle systems can be a great way to provide very dense storage while still accommodating fast fulfillment speeds. A pallet shuttle system utilizes a deep rack structure (often 25-30 pallets deep, or more) and semi-automated shuttles (or carts) to move pallets into the dense storage.

The shuttles can be easily moved from lane to lane or level to level within the storage system by forklift operators. The same shuttles are used to retrieve pallets and move them to the front position in the deep lane system to allow for efficient picking.

What Storage-Type Combination is Best for Your Food & Beverage Distribution Center?

As is typical with most distribution centers and fulfillment centers, the optimal storage configuration for your facility will be determined by your products, your order profiles, and your fulfillment strategy. If you are beginning to assess your facility layout, the best place is to evaluate your system and design your storage configuration around a dynamic fulfillment process. If you have a facility in place and are looking to optimize your capacity or improve your operations, you may need to establish your opportunities for improvement.

Either way, we’re here to help. Give us a call, and our team of storage and fulfillment experts can talk through your business goals and challenges, perhaps even touring the facilities to determine the optimal course of action. Our team has decades of combined experience in determining storage solutions that can relieve the challenges caused by labor shortages, suboptimal storage, and poor facility design.

Let’s get the conversation started today!

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!

Increase Storage Capacity with Dense Storage Solutions

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

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

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

Dense Storage Solutions for Large Items

Pallet Rack Pushback Dense Solutions

Pushback Racking

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

    Pallet Flow

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

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

Dense Storage Solutions for Small Items

  • vertical-lift-machines

    Vertical Lift Machines

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

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

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

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

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.

dense storage solutions

As a natural byproduct of business cycles, warehouses need to be flexible as storage needs ebb and flow. During periods of economic growth, these warehouses need to find ways to increase capacity without increasing the facility size. Similarly, as a result of new equipment or new inventory profiles, managers are often tasked with finding ways to decrease their layout’s footprint while maintaining (or even increasing) their storage capacity.

In our experience, many small-to-medium-sized companies are unfamiliar with the benefits of introducing dense storage solutions. Often, these companies are more familiar with a traditional, selective pallet rack option. Depending on your inventory, there may be an opportunity to install dense storage racking at this stage of a business cycle. But first, before you evaluate those options, managers should make sure they design the optimal plan.

Perform a Facility Design Assessment

Whatever steps you decide to take, know that your best bet for an optimal result may begin with a complete facility design assessment. Our experts can look at your layout and provide suggestions for the optimal design for your operation. Our experts can help you take the guesswork out of the process.

Integrate Smart Slotting Data

Primarily, Smart Slotting introduces a data-centric approach to optimizing your picking process. The tool measures operational and storage costs against the volume of your picking demand to give you the optimal inventory slotting strategy. However, this approach also improves your ability to increase capacity by moving SKUs to the best possible storage media types.

Are You Ready for Dense Storage Solutions?

If you have large quantities of pallets on hand for each item you are storing, dense storage may be right for you. Let’s look at the options:

  • Pushback: These are systems in which pallets are stored on a cart system on a slight pitch so pallets can gravity flow back down to the front location as pallets are removed from the system. Pushback racking is ideal for Last-In, First-Out (LIFO) inventory systems or First-In, First-Out (FIFO) inventory for larger lot/date code SKUs. These systems often utilize nested carts, which make the placement and retrieval of products easy.
  • Pallet FlowPallet flow rack is an ideal option for warehouses that operate on a First-In, First Out (FIFO) inventory system & have large quantities of pallets on hand per SKU. This flexible racking system can be designed to your desired depth to maximize your capacity & utilization of the storage system. Pallet flow systems are customizable and uniquely designed for your products.
  • Drive-In / Drive-Thru: Drive-In and Drive-Thru racking are similar in that they increase storage density & require fewer aisles in your warehouse. The main difference between the two is Drive-In racking is accessible via forklift by one end. Drive-Thru racking is accessible from both ends. Drive-In & Drive-Thru racking work best for operations with really large quantities of pallets on hand per item. The best applications have the same SKU stored from the ground to the top & from the front to the back in each lane of the storage system. To keep utilization high, it is also ideal to have multiple lanes of Drive-In or Drive-Thru racking filled with the same item.
  • Semi-Automated Deep Lane Systems: These systems allow an operator to utilize a semi-automated cart to move packages into dense storage racking. This system can integrate perfectly with both LIFO and FIFO inventory systems. Semi-automated deep lane systems are often 25-40 pallets deep & work great for operations that have lots of pallets on hand per SKU & relatively high throughput requirements. These modern systems are fast and extremely easy to use, also utilizing green technology to operate.

Whenever you are ready to talk about your dense storage solutions, we are here for you. To get started, contact us and we can look at your inventory profile and share how our design-based solutions can increase storage space and ultimately increase your warehouse’s capacity.

Picking Solutions Storage Solutions

At Storage Solutions, we pride ourselves on offering customers a solution for every square foot of their operation. We group our solutions into four main categories. These include simple, dense, picking and specialty solutions.

Simple Solutions

If you’re looking for a basic storage solution to get your facility organized, then our simple solutions might be just what you need. Our simple offerings include pallet rack, shelving, mezzanines and more. Within those categories, we offer a variety of styles, colors and capacities designed to work with whatever your needs may be.

Dense Solutions

Our dense solutions are perfect for anyone trying to decrease their facility footprint. Dense solutions include pushback, pallet flow, drive in/drive thru, and semi-automated deep lane storage. These solutions allow you to maximize your facility storage by using the space you have to the fullest.

Picking Solutions

If your main goal within your operation is to increase efficiency and decrease labor costs, then a picking solution may be the best option for you. These solutions include pick modules, carton flow, and light-duty cantilever. Any of these options will provide the boost you need in your day-to-day operations.

Specialty Solutions

Finally, we have our specialty solution offering. If you have a need that seems somewhat out of the ordinary, then one of our specialty solutions can probably help! These include tube rack, dual load, drive-in and cantilever. These solutions are perfect for high seismic areas, for storing oddly shaped items and more!

Regardless of what your needs are, we have a team of experts in place to analyze your operation and help. We love working with our customers to make sure all of their needs are being met. Learn more about our storage solutions here or contact us today to help you select the best possible solution for your facility.

Pallet Flow Can Optimize Your Warehouse

We are all looking for ways to work smarter, both personally and for our teams. When it comes to dense storage solutions, pallet flow is especially beneficial as it allows you to make your warehouse more efficient by moving products quicker than ever before.

What are the Benefits of Pallet Flow Racking?

To begin, pallet flow is easy to use! By being a first-in, first-out system (FIFO), which is what makes it different from other types of drive-in racks. Pallet flow racking also has a different pick and load system. You get faster pick and load times by loading the pallet on one side and letting it slide down the other.

While other types of racking can hold anywhere from about two to five pallets, pallet flow can contain anywhere from twelve to fifteen racks (depending on the model)

This style is excellent when it comes to customization. We all want equipment that fits our specific needs. Customers can tailor this rack to the sizes and weights of their exact pallets. It is also usable anywhere in your warehouse, on the floor, with necessary racking and more!

This style of racking is one of the most durable and dynamic systems you can have in your warehouse. With all of these features, it will be the most efficient piece of equipment you have. Check out our specialty equipment page for more details.

Does pallet flow sound like the right fit for your warehouse? Contact us today and let our experts help you get started!

For Part 1 of this blog, we covered the different components of pallet rack and how to determine which type you need for your operation. Part 2 is going to cover the different types of pallet rack systems!

pallet rack

Types of Pallet Rack:

Selective

  • Most common pallet rack used
  • Efficient when you have a low quantity of SKUs
  • Easy accessibility
  • Least dense

Double Deep

  • Fewer forklift aisles
  • Less selectivity
  • More storage density than selective rack

Drive In

  • Load and retrieve from the same side, creating LIFO inventory retrieval
  • Efficient when you have large quantities of different SKUs
  • Low selectivity
  • Cost effective
  • High density
  • Requires fewer forklift aisles

Push Back

  • Similar to drive in
  • Allows you to store pallets 2-5 deep and still have easy access to different SKUs
  • This system uses steel carts on inclined rails, and uses gravity flow to move product towards the pick aisles
  • Cost effective
  • High density
  • LIFO

Drive Thru

  • Pallet racking system that loads from one side and unloads from the other to create FIFO inventory retrieval.
  • Forklifts can enter from both aisles on either side of the rack
  • Low selectivity
  • High density
  • Excellent option for freezers

Pallet Flow

  • Similar to drive thru
  • This system uses wheels or rollers on sloped beam levels, and uses gravity flow to move product towards the pick aisle
  • It is perfect for fast-moving product with FIFO inventory retrieval
  • High-density

Carton Flow

  • Uses a gravity feed rear load design
  • Merchandise is loaded in the rear of each runway, and as an item is removed from the front, the item behind it slides forward on inclined rails in place of the previous item
  • FIFO

Cantilever

  • Elongated storage, furniture rack, tube rack, lumber rack
  • Single sided or double sided
  • Various heights and widths between uprights and lengths of the arms
  • High selectivity
  • Can use decking to span arms to create a solid level

If you have additional question or would like more information on any racking system, give us a call at 866.474.2001 or contact your sales representative!

As a company, Storage Solutions has been committed to providing our customers with the best in new and used material handling equipment since it all started way back in 1978.  One of the things that enables us to do this is the relationships we have with our partners, including 3D Storage Systems.

Storage Solutions has been proud to partner with 3D Storage Systems for the past several years.  They have grown to become one of the largest producers of dynamic storage systems in North America. 3D offers a wide range push-back products

Our team was fortunate to have a 3D representative come to our facility and teach us some important information about their products.  We thought the information was so beneficial that we wanted to share a few key items with our readers!

Here’s what you need to know…

PUSH-BACK STORAGE SYSTEM

What is push-back?

Push-back storage increases pallet count, while offering many more pick faces than traditional high density storage systems. Each push-back lane is equipped with a pair of inclined rails and a series of carts. The first pallet is placed by the lift truck on the top cart. The lift truck driver then loads the second pallet by pushing back the first load and placing it on the next exposed cart. Pallets three and four are loaded similarly. The last pallet is placed on the rails themselves. When removing product, the lift truck takes out the front pallet allowing the pallets on carts behind it to roll gently to the front of the rack.

Pushback

What’s the difference between a push-back system and a standard pallet rack system?

A push-back system offers less selectivity than a standard pallet rack system, however, it is a denser storage method that utilizes warehouse space more efficiently because it requires less forklift aisles.

How does the cost of push-back compare to standard pallet rack?

Push-back is a greater investment than standard pallet rack because more components are involved, therefore more material, but the square-footage cost per pallet actually decreases because more pallets can be stored in the space.

We thoroughly enjoyed expanding our knowledge on the push-back system with 3D Storage Systems, and hope this information will be useful to our readers.  If you have any additional questions, our online sales team is standing by! Give them a call at 866.474.2001!

Source: 3D Storage Systems