Any warehouse, distribution centre, or workshop with a long job queue can benefit from pallet flow racks. They minimise prioritisation errors, maximise the use of valuable space and accelerate shipping logistics. However, they must be designed for the specific type of products they will contain.
Flow racks work on a first-in-first-out principle. This is ideal for perishable goods that cannot be shipped in a random order. It is also ideal in any shipping or processing environment where different items are due for delivery to different clients – so no client is ever left waiting an unpredictable time.
How they work
In pallet flow systems, a pallet removed at the front is immediately replaced by a forward flow of those queued behind. There is a single point of delivery and a single point of extraction – saving vast amounts of space and opportunities for error. Usually this is achieved automatically using tracks, rollers and brakes. Such systems can be gravity fed and consequently consume zero or minimal energy. Yet potentially they can be 20 pallets deep and on multiple levels.
Nevertheless, without a carefully planned and tailored implementation, pallet flow systems can flip from the company’s best friend into a crisis. For example, an incident or breakdown at any point could hold up everything behind it. Since maximum space has been given over to storage, remedial access may be difficult. Similarly, if quick access to a particular queued item is needed, accessing it may require extraction of every item in front of it, and returning it all behind. That’s not only labour-intensive, but it disrupts the delivery order.
Naturally, health and safety legislation must be followed for all racking systems. For pallet racking Ireland has the HSA, and the UK has the HSE.
Avoiding the pitfalls
Those scenarios can be avoided by ensuring all equipment is robust, reliable, properly fitted and maintained. If occasional interruptions for item access or maintenance is anticipated, provision can be designed in, but this requires expertise and field experience. Therefore, professional suppliers and installers are highly recommended. For professional pallet racking Ireland is lucky to have suppliers like Rackzone.
When you consider the cost of space itself (rent and rates, for example), professional installation of pallet flow racking emerges as great value for money.