To ensure your warehouse is operating at peak efficiency, it’s necessary to consider the layout of your pallet racking and how it affects your operation. A properly organized and efficient warehouse can significantly increase storage space and throughput effectiveness.
Evaluate Your Warehouse Layout
Evaluate your storage and retrieval needs to determine the ideal workflow. Consider how your inventory items flow from the loading/unloading docks to general storage, picking, and dispatch. Your priority is to increase the efficiency of this process. In evaluating your warehouse layout and workflow, you’re aiming for the following:
Increasing available storage space
Floor space is at a premium in every warehouse; so, increasing the space available for your storage needs is always a bonus.
Improving worker access
Inventory items should be visible and accessible to workers at all times. If your employees have difficulty identifying or accessing products, this can reduce your warehouse’s efficiency.
Minimizing material handling
The less time workers have to spend handling products, the less risk of either damage to the product or workplace injury.
Mapping Your Warehouse
Each part of your warehouse should be optimized for efficiency, space and properly coordinated with your storage systems.
In the process, map your warehouse, including all major areas:
A well-organized entry/exit point for the receipt and dispatch of goods is essential to the efficient management of your warehouse.
Receiving is where your employees evaluate goods received, inspecting them for quality and determining their proper location in the warehouse.
When evaluating your warehouse storage and what kinds of racking systems you need, evaluate the products you store, their rate of turnover, and their size and weight. When determining the available storage space of your warehouse, you’ll need to take into account vertical space and ceiling height.
However, to meet your storage requirements, you’ll also need to know the clear height of your warehouse. To find the clear height, measure the distance between the lowest hanging overhead object, such as a crane, a light fixture, a joist, or a fire suppression system, and the warehouse floor.
When you’re attempting to increase the storage capacity of your warehouse, keep in mind that sufficient aisle width between pallet rack systems is necessary for the safety of your forklift drivers and the protection of your racks. If you’re operating at high capacity, you may be limiting the space needed for non-storage functions.
How you organize picking in your warehouse helps determine the ideal layout and types of pallet racks you need. If you need to consolidate order fulfillment organizing products from multiple locations, you can designate a specific area for order picking.
Whether this is complex or simple depends on several factors, such as the size and quantity of the products you store. This can also affect the racking system you choose. For example, carton flow racking is designed to optimize picking for order fulfillment.
The dispatching area is where employees prepare and pack inventory items for shipping. This is also where workers determine whether inventory items need to be replenished.
Consider Your Budget
Several factors can affect the price of a racking system. These include the number of pallet positions per bay, and whether the racking system uses roll formed or structural steel components.
How the components are fabricated affects the assembly method and the cost of installation. As you’ll need to periodically inspect your racking systems for damage, always ensure your workers are never exceeding the load capacity of your racks and are reporting any collisions or damage, they discover so reduce your repair and replacement costs over time.
Pallet racking systems can be expensive; however, used pallet racks offer a low-cost alternative for the budget-conscious warehouse manager. Used pallet racks are also often available partially assembled, which can also reduce your assembly costs. Used pallet racking comes in several configurations, allowing you to choose the best system to optimize your warehouse layout.
It’s critical to understand the different types of racking options available when organizing your warehouse. These fall into two categories: Racking systems designed for palletized loads and those designs for non-palletized loads.
Racking systems designed for palletized loads include selective and pallet flow racks. Racks designed for non-palletized loads include cantilever racks and carton flow racks.
Factors to consider when choosing a used pallet rack for your warehouse include:
Storage selectivity determines the extent to which a worker can access specific products in a racking system for retrieval. High selectivity is necessary when you’re storing a variety of diverse products and SKUs. However, high selectivity usually requires reduced storage density and more aisle space, requiring an evaluation of inventory items and distribution strategies.
Increasing the storage density is one of the most effective ways of increasing the storage capacity of usable floor space in a warehouse. If you store homogenous inventory items in high volumes, systems that offer higher storage density, such as push back and drive-in racking, are generally considered beneficial.
Stock rotation method
Stock rotation determines how products are loaded and retrieved in your warehouse. There are several methods that a warehouse can use to manage its inventory.
The stock rotation method you use can impact your warehouse layout and the type of racking configuration you choose. You need to structure your pallet rack layout to increase order picking and fulfillment speed by allowing adequate access for material handling equipment. Some of the most popular used pallet racking options include:
Selective pallet racking
A high-selectivity racking system that operates on a first in, first out (FIFO) basis, selective pallet racks are low density, relatively inexpensive, and suitable for the low-volume storage of diverse inventory items. Selective racks are ideal if you need to access multiple pallets or stock-keeping units (SKUs) simultaneously.
Push back racking
Push back racking fulfills the need for a last in, first out (LIFO), high-density storage system that offers reasonable product selectivity. Forklift truck drivers place pallets on nested carts that run on rails mounted on an incline. The first pallet rests on the upper cart. When the driver loads the second pallet, it pushes the first pallet back, hence the name, uncovering the second cart. When a forklift driver retrieves one pallet, the pallet behind it slides into the ready position.
Push back racking is a good choice if you need a high-density storage solution that uses the same aisle for loading and unloading.
Operating on a LIFO basis, drive-in racking is a high-density storage system in which forklift trucks enter storage bays to load and retrieve pallets. This system eliminates the need for external aisles, reducing the space required for the storage system in your warehouse. Once the truck has either placed or retrieved a load, it exits the system by either reversing or, if there’s sufficient space, turning and driving out.
Drive-in racking is suitable for high-volume storage where most of the products are the same.
Pallet flow racking
Pallet flow racking is ideal for FIFO-based high-density storage. It uses inclined roller or wheel lanes to move pallets from the rear loading side of the rack to the front unloading face. A dynamic storage system, the inclined lanes allow gravity to assist the pallets in their movement from one aisle to another.
While a high-density storage solution, pallet-flow racks require two aisles — one for loading/charging and another for unloading/discharging. As a result, you need to account for the additional space required when designing the layout of your warehouse.
Shelving + Rack Systems, Inc. Are Your Partners in Warehouse Organization
At Shelving + Rack Systems, Inc., we specialize in storage solutions for warehouses and other businesses to improve the efficiency of your operation. We offer a variety of new and used systems to help you meet the unique challenges of today’s modern warehouse, and we can also custom design your pallet racking to suit your specific needs.
Understanding how to organize your warehouse can help you gain the most from your racking systems, allowing you to locate, retrieve, and dispatch orders in a timely manner. If you need help finding the right racks to optimize your warehouse, contact us at (800) 589-7225 to speak to a project manager or request a free quote.