Every successful company has an edge over its competition. What is yours? Today’s on-demand world requires companies do something better than its competitors. Is it price? The answer to that question is probably not, unless you do business in a highly profitable, narrowly defined niche. Your workforce? That is possible, but again, unless your company is the best in terms of wages, benefits and work/life balance, this can change very quickly.
Here is one edge you probably have not—but should—consider. Pallet flow rack. That is correct, pallet flow rack. This flow equipment offers many benefits and will provide that edge you want.
Here are four key reasons you should invest in flow racks.
1. Improved warehouse efficiency
Does this describe your warehouse today? Products with time-sensitive expiration dates come on pallets and your forklift drivers take it to the proper location in your racks. To keep the oldest product in front, your driver takes that pallet load already there, puts it and maybe another pallet on the ground and then loads the newest pallet in back. Then after that pallet is in place, the driver puts the other two back on the rack. However, the driver was not sure which was the oldest—but you discover it a few weeks later, after the product on the pallet spoiled.
Flow racks eliminate that extra work.
The basic premise of flow racks is taking advantage of first in/first out (FIFO). FIFO works with pallet flow racks because forklifts load the newest product on one side of the rack and take the oldest products from the other, ensuring product rotation moves the oldest product out before new loads. These racks further improve warehouse efficiency by creating a more organized traffic flow.
2. Save on labor
Flow racks often provide an edge when it comes labor savings. With a tight job market, it is important to retain the employees you have while keeping the number of new hires low, if possible. Traditional racking requires more labor to find, move and load. Pallet flow racks do not require as much labor. Once loaded into the rack, the load rides on inclined rails that move the pallet forward when the load in first is removed. No one need waste additional time by maneuvering and persuading pallets in the middle of the rack, thus saving time and energy.
Flow rack used for pallets also speeds up time for pickers in fulfillment situations. The product is more accessible and easier to see. Furthermore, if organized correctly, picking is centralized instead of wasting the picker’s time by going all over the warehouse for orders.
3. Improved storage
There is seldom enough storage space in warehouses. And, with warehouse space availability so tight, owners need to become creative in creating new space or consider expansion, possibly relocation. Timing often makes the latter ideas expensive and painful.
Investing in pallet flow rack allows for added space by providing an effective high-density storage solution. Because of improved workflow, the number and width of aisles will be less, making room for additional racks. Depending on the capabilities of the forklifts, it is very likely the racks can grow vertically and adding new storage space exponentially.
4. Better Safety
Warehouses continue to rank among the biggest offenders when it comes to product, equipment and worker safety. Flow racks will not eliminate all damage or injury, but these racks have the potential to reduce the amount significantly.
All warehouses are busy. Filling orders and meeting deadlines require a certain level of speed. Unfortunately, most warehouses have a workflow and floorplan that encourages problems. Forklift drivers delivering product to the racks are in the same aisles with those drivers and pickers filling orders.
Flow racks add order to the workflow by forcing the lift trucks to use designated aisles to load the racks while fulfillment happens in aisles on the other side of the rack. It also reduces the number of forklifts needed, freeing up space and making the aisles safer for the pickers.
Product damage is less because the amount of handling is reduced. The same goes for the racks and other equipment as result of a decrease in product handling to accomplish the same job. This results not only in improved safety, but also translates into more profit.