Seven Tips – How To Optimize Pallet Flow Performance

Flow storage is important when considering pallet racking. Flow storage is especially essential when managing perishable or time-sensitive products. To prolong the life of your equipment, reduce maintenance costs, and enhance safety, consider these 7 helpful tips:

1. Efficient Flow Storage 

Flow storage is useful in many applications especially: ambient, cooler, and freezer environments, raw materials receiving and storage, finished goods and cross docking.  It is also useful in automatic storage (AS) and retrieval systems (RS).

2. Understand How Flow Storage Works 

A pallet flow storage system has two parts: a static rack structure and dynamic flow rails.  The flow rails are set at an incline in the rack structure- which allows loads placed on one end of the rack to move by gravity down to the unloading end.  Rollers let the loads move smoothly while self-energized speed controllers act as gentle brakes.  As a load is removed, the loads behind it move forward automatically.

A  3D Storage pallet flow racking products includes:

  • Skatewheel lanes for picking systems
  • Gravity Flow design
  • Polycarbonate wheels for typical pallet flow applications 4-26 pallets deep
  • Rollers, both 1.9” and 2.5” diameter for custom pallet/container requirements

3. A Strong Flow Storage System 

It is also advisable to select a flow system that provides vertically adjustable beams and ample strength.

“You can always re-profile your flow rack to handle higher, heavier pallets if you design for it,” according to Ryan Wachsmuth.  “Let’s say you use a 48” high pallet today, but decide later that a 60” high pallet is more efficient because you want to add two more levels of ice cream to each pallet.  A system with vertically adjustable beams would allow you to do it, provided you have the rack strength.”

4.  Capacity That Equates Capabilities 

When designing a flow storage system, know your warehouse’s capabilities and limitations, know how low girders, trusses, warehouse lighting,  fire suppression lines, and figure out how much clearance is required. Before loading the system it is important to consult with the local fire marshal to ensure the design and layout meets fire code standards.

5. Request A Pawl Anti-Backup Device

When forklift drivers unload a pallet from the flow system discharge end, they typically perform a manoeuvre called a ‘plug.’  That is, with the pallet they pick up, they push the next pallet in the flow lane to get the row of pallets to properly flow to the unloading end.

When forklift drivers perform this standard manoeuvre, a pawl anti-backup device can help prevent a pallet from unintentionally being pushed off the loading end.  A pawl can also assist productivity by helping forklift drivers keep pallets safely flowing to the unloading end of the system.

6. Seek Single Source Accountability 

Designing and installing a pallet flow system could involve a separate pallet flow manufacturer, a rack manufacturer, as well as a dealer and installer.  However, this type of setup is not recommended by experts due to the significant coordination required from each of these independent parties to resolve any issues.

“To make certain that everything works together properly, it is a good idea to work with a single source manufacturer of both racks and flow components,” says Wachsmuth, who notes the company also has a national dealer network.  “This provides one point of contact for planning and coordination, answering questions, troubleshooting, and resolving any issues.”

 7.  Before Signing Off On The System-Request  A Full Pallet Test 

Successful flow systems are the result of proper design and thorough testing of all the related components.  The vendor should perform a ‘full test’ of the system, including rail type, rail pitch, brake spacing, as well as a full pallet test to ensure it fits your pallet, product, and workflow.

“There are many variables to a flow system, and even hundreds of pallet variations, such as wood, plastic, metal, and bottom boards running parallel or perpendicular, all of which can affect flow,” says Wachsmuth.  “So, it is vital to confirm that the pallets and entire flow system will work as expected.”

When done correctly, a pallet flow system can double high-density storage and improve time-sensitive inventory, while enhancing the efficiency, productivity and profitability of the operation.