You probably have heard of the supply chain term, last mile. This refers to the planning and transport of products from the distribution hub to the end destination.
Today, let’s look at something similar, but inside your warehouse or distribution center, along with a tool you should consider to maximize this efficiency.
The term is the second-to-last mile and the tool is carton flow racking.
The second-to-last mile is the process involved to fulfilling orders and preparing each for shipment.
Many warehouses today have all sorts of material handling equipment, helping improve productivity and efficiency from the moment a pallet loads of products as these enter the warehouse.
Each helps maintain a productive and efficient operation if the product goes out the door to customers the way it came in—in pallet loads.
However, pallet load broken down into smaller units such as cartons or individual pieces may create new challenges that affect productivity. This is where efficiency breaks down. However, carton flow racking can help.
Sending human pickers to locations all over the warehouse to fill orders causes a breakdown in productive, efficient warehouse operations. Carton flow racks help with that second to last mile efficiency.
Here are five ways:
1. Carton flow racking provides efficient less-than-pallet picking
Carton flow rack allows for easy picking of loads smaller than pallet size. These racks enable a logical distribution of less-than-pallet size loads as the products move from the pallet racks to carton flow racks.
2. Carton flow racks improve efficiency
Carton flow racks allow for a centralized picking location for your workers, saving wasted time searching the entire warehouse for items. The racks also help reduce mistakes in picking, which also saves time and money.
3. Carton flow racks work for a variety of products
Whether fulfilling order for feathers or disc brakes for large tractors, carton flow racking offers a style with the features needed to meet size and weight demands. These racks are available in lightweight, easy-to-assemble boltless shelving to heavier-duty construction, with capacity up to 2,000 lbs.
Items in the rack move from back to front on angled shelves to allow gravity to assist. Some also use rollers in addition to the angled shelves.
As the name implies, these racks allow for the easy distribution/picking of cartons but will accommodate boxes and other less-than-pallet size items.
4. Carton flow racks are scalable
Carton flow racks perform successfully as a standalone picking operation. This allows smaller industrial and retail companies to benefit from the productivity this type of rack offers, just like larger operations.
5. Carton flow racks can function as part of a larger picking operation
Large warehouse fulfillment facilities often maximize the efficiencies of carton flow racks by adding the rack to other rack equipment such as a pick module.
The components of a pick module include conveyors, pallet racks, pallet flow racks along with carton flow racks.
Combining these components with a pick-to-light system creates a centralized, efficient system that maximizes space while reducing picking distance for an efficient operation.
Selecting the best option
It is obvious that carton flow racks offer improved productivity and efficiency for small operations us to large distribution centers.
So, which carton flow application best fits your needs?
Consider the following before you invest:
- SKUs – will you handle one, a few or several SKUs in your rack?
- Size – will all your containers, boxes or other packaged items be the same size or different sizes?
- Speed to shipment – Do some items ship more slowly than others do?
- Weight and surface – Is one product a few pounds and another several hundred pounds? What about the product’s surface? Is it flat, irregularly shaped, solid or loose?
These questions will guide you in determining how best to use carton flow racks.
The second-to-last mile is just as important as the last mile for shipping products quickly, efficiently at a reasonable cost. Carton flow racks can have a dramatic impact. Do your homework before making that investment.
Talk with professionals who understand the best methods for maximizing productivity and rack options, including carton flow racking.