by Jenny Knodell, IQS Editor
Those that work in a factory, warehouse, assembly line or mill know—storage racks are a necessary component to an industrial manufacturer. They keep any sized product, part or material organized and easy to find, utilizing all space and increasing efficiency among workers. An organized workspace runs smoothly and easily keeps track of stock. Storage racks are easy to assemble, adjust to the size of different items, and are able to join together. The question is—with so many differently sized parts and products to organize, what kind of storage rack is right for your business? After a quick look at the different options, the next step is choosing the right set-up system for your shelving.
Pallet racks are a very popular option when storing products and materials in an industrial setting. These allow storage of large, flat structures that support packaged goods while being lifted by a forklift. The standard pallet racks have many isles between the rows of shelving, which can take up much space, but there are a couple other pallet rack alternatives to consider. If your business has a lot of inventory that shifts on a regular basis, drive-through pallet racks could be a better solution because they have a denser arrangement that uses 80% less space than standard pallet racks. Pushback racks are optimal when space is very limited. They are similar to carton flow racks, because the pallets sit on a tray that rides along a set of rails in the rack frame that are set on an incline. This rack uses gravity to save space and quicken picking time.
Image courtesy of RTI Shelving.
Carton flow racks are often seen in the dairy section of grocery stores, and they are also commonly used in commercial product and automotive manufacturing. This shelving system makes merchandise easier to find because the products are stored in the rear and moved forward on an inclined shelf, staying organized and in order. Gravity leaves no wasted space, and it ensures that the first product put in will be the first to come out. Carton flow racks are great for perishable items. They don’t require much reaching during the picking process, and restocking is smooth and easy.
Cantilever racks are perfect for long, bulky materials like lumber or metal pipes because they do not have vertical beams that may obstruct a long object. They are constructed of a backbone and series of arms single or double sided, which may be straight or inclined, that make up the different levels. These storage racks often hold items that may roll off, and for safety reasons, many have barriers on the end called lips that prevent rolling or slipping.
Once you have chosen the type of storage racks to use, setting them up can optimize time and space, or waste it. There are two manners of arranging storage systems. Static systems are often made up of many isles, and workers take many more steps than needed to find what they are looking for. The dynamic rack system is a much more efficient system that separates stocking and picking operations and uses less isle space. The 2 diagrams provided below show the stark differences between these two systems, and it’s easy to see which one works better. Keep in mind that a static system is usually used with standard pallet shelving, and dynamic systems are easily set up with a number of different first-in-first-out shelving systems, like the carton flow or pushback racks.