What is pallet racking?
One of the most ancient storage and retrieval systems, that has been used in manufacturing units to storage facilities to warehouses that stockpile and despatch goods; palletized racks or pallet racking systems have reigned supreme since the World Wars till date – finding their utility in the modernised, mechanised warehouses of the present, too.
Where does pallet racking find its relevance from early ages to date?
Whether it is a storage facility or a warehouse or a manufacturing plant, it is always important to keep the workplace decluttered- as in freeing the workplace of unnecessary stuff and getting rid of the mess which might consist of unorganized products to inventory that is not located at their proper place.
The storage facility or warehouse might also need to maximize the space in order to facilitate the movement of the workers as well as accumulate a greater quantity of products within that space. This also requires a smooth storage and retrieval system that is, in this case, the Pallet Racking system.
What are the Issues addressed by Pallet Racking System?
Solving a number of warehouse storage issues including getting the skids or pallets organised and up as well as off of the floor
Maximizing the storage and existing cache space of the warehouse
Untangling the loading and picking system of pallets as well as cartons and boxes
Increasing productivity of the workplace by improving worker efficiency. This can be done by automating some of the manual labor that is invested in the storage and retrieval of pallets.
Reduction of the cost of warehousing operations by cutting down on manual labor and organizing various functions that boost productivity.
What are the considerations for selecting a warehouse pallet racking system?
A warehouse Pallet Racking system is one that is unique for a particular warehouse or storage facility and varies with varying spaces and facilities. Therefore, not only the situation of the warehouse but also the zone in which it is located as well as the building structure; all of these should be taken into consideration while selecting the proper warehouse pallet racking system.
What are the important factors that should be borne in mind while selecting the ideal Pallet Racking System?
Stock keeping units or SKUs: For the installation of the proper Pallet Racking system that is tailor-made for the particular warehouse facility, the design and layout of the pallet racking system should be comprehensively understood. SKU or stock keeping unit is the deciding factor behind the design, layout, and installation of the palletized racks. SKU is basically a number assigned by a retailer to the products in their inventory and a specific number of SKUs can only be accommodated in a particular Pallet Racking System.
Number of pallets or skids: The total number of pallets or skids that needs to be stored per rack system should be taken into consideration while deciding upon the design of the Pallet Racking System.
Dimensions of pallets: The proper dimensions of each pallet or skid should be known to design the Racking system that offers maximum storage space as well as configures the design of the bay and the aisles.
Weight of pallets and/or materials: Weight of each unit pallet is a major deciding factor that helps in identifying the component of construction; the capacity of the steel beams, the type of decking to be used, whether additional pallet supports are needed, etc.
Type of products which are stored: Biodegradable, non-biodegradable, perishable, fragile, needs to be stored in the temperature-controlled environment – all these factors of items or products should be taken in concern while choosing the perfect pallet racking system depending on the items to be stored.
Type of inventory retrieval: Inventory retrieval systems are of two types: first-in-first-out; commonly known as FIFO and last-in-first-out whose common industrial jargon is LIFO. Accordingly, the ideal Pallet Racking system should be chosen which is conducive to that particular inventory retrieval system.
Turnover time: Turnover time can be defined as the time period for which the inventory stays within the storage facility. This also affects the type of Pallet Racking system that should be deployed for the warehouse.
Picking methods: Picking of inventory varies according to the warehouse or storage facility as well as upon the products that need to be picked. They can broadly be categorized into :
Split case picking: The type of picking that is extremely common in the case of e-commerce and order fulfillment centers where individual items are picked from open cartons and skids which possess high SKU values and low pick volume per SKU.
Full case picking: The method of picking that is most commonly implemented in case of the supply chain, logistics, retail distribution of goods and etc; which involves the accumulation of full cartons or boxes of products for despatch and distribution.
What are the different components of the warehouse Pallet Racking System?
A typical pallet racking system consists of :
- Additional decking supports
- Post protectors
What materials are employed in constructing the different components of Pallet Racks?
The three major types of steel that are used in constructing different components of the pallet racks are as follows :
Roll-formed steel: This kind of steel is cut out from large and thin sheets of steel and then the structure and shape are imparted accordingly. This kind of steel has very little durability and structural integrity and is susceptible to structural damage. Roll-formed steel is cheaper than the other steel variants.
Structural steel: This kind of steel is extremely durable structurally and is resistant to minor damages, thus bearing a low maintenance cost throughout its lifetime. It is expensive as the structure of the pallet rack is imparted using structural steel that has been molded into its final shape while it has been cast from iron.
Hybrid steel: As the name suggests, this kind of steel is a mixture of the above two variants of steel. The roll-formed steel is used in areas of low impact, ideally, inner parts of the Pallet racks whereas the structural steel is used in high-impact zones of the rack system like the base, face, frames, etc.
What kind of components are used to support Pallet Racking systems?
The support components may vary according to the types of pallet racking systems in use, but they can be broadly categorized into :
Decking materials: Common materials like steel beams, wire mesh decking, wooden deckings, carts, gravity rollers, solid deckings, etc may be used to provide additional support to the Pallet Racks.
Post protectors: Additional protection can be imparted to the Pallet Racks in the form of anchorage to the ground; to resist the usual damages that can be sustained from forklifts and cranes.
Material finish: Galvanised materials can be used for the external protection of Pallet Racks whereas epoxy or powder coat finish may be provided to protect the racks from corrosive action.
What are the different types of Pallet Racking systems that are employed in warehousing and industrial operations?
The different types of Pallet Racking systems presently finding their application in various industrial and warehousing operations can be enumerated as :
Selective pallet racking systems– these kinds of pallet racking systems are great for standard storage of all kinds of requirements that demand immediate access to products or pallets.
Drive-in pallet racking systems – these kinds of pallet racking systems are great for warehouses with limited space and huge amounts of similar products and manufacturers having limited SKUs.
Push back pallet racking systems – these types of pallet racking systems are extremely useful for warehouses that prefer selectivity as well as flexibility and high-density storage of materials.
Pallet flow racking systems – this type of pallet racking system is extremely advantageous for the storage of dairy, food products, pharmaceuticals or other date-sensitive and perishable items.
Carton flow racking systems – these can be employed in warehouses that specialize in split carton picking and high-density order picking and are mostly seen in order fulfillment centers, food, and beverage distribution centers, etc.
Cantilever racking systems – these kinds of racking storage systems are primarily employed for storing long, heavy, oddly shaped products that range from pipes to lumber to steel sheets.