Racking is such a common warehouse feature of warehousing that it is all too easy to take for granted. But the choice of racking will have a dramatic impact on the efficiency of warehouse operations, so getting it right is critical.
There is a vast range of solutions but the right solution for any business is dependent on a large number of considerations. First and foremost safety should be central to all warehouse design, and an optimised layout is vital to minimise the risk of on-site accidents.
Adjustable pallet racking is the most common form of racking and offers a suitable solution for companies seeking a standard pallet racking storage system.
You will often see these being used today to store pallets in bulk to replenish pick shelves.
To maximise the footprint, drive-in racking would probably be double the cost of APR per pallet but increases the density of the storage.
Mobile racking could the increase storage density further at a cost up to about 4 times the price of drive-in.
Push-back racking would fall between the two in cost terms.
Pallet live racking, which offers dense storage as a pick face for efficient order picking would also require a fourfold increase over APR investment but, of course, offers vast improvements in terms of order picking efficiency.
Warehouses all over the UK – and even the world – are coming under pressure from growing customer demand since the e-commerce boom.
This has triggered a greater need for warehouse increased space and flexibility which, coupled with increasing land costs, has made expanding vertically a very viable solution.
Narrow aisle racking systems have long been a popular system alternative among many retailers. The floor space can be built up rather than out, while less floor space is required for aisles.
The role of shelving in the warehouse is not uncommon. Shelving is selected based on the storage environment as well as size, load and velocity of stock keeping unit held in the inventory. A typical warehouse environment is suited to pallets and pallet racking, however with the rise in e-commerce and rapid fulfilment, invariably they also require smaller pick faces to satisfy single and smaller item orders.
The growth of automation is also having an impact on storage decisions. Automation is currently playing a large part in the logistics process it is essential that current and future requirements are considered in this process as the lack of flexibility can be very unforgiving in the long run.
With expanding SKU profiles and demands for the reduction in fulfilment times “future-proofing” a design to possibly include some form of automation in future should always be considered.
Such advancements in technology are very much underpinning the opportunity to build racking higher and unlock even more vertical space, with lift ability of very narrow aisle trucks continuing to rise.
The fact that when installing any kind of automation, it is important to pay attention to the design of the racking. The racking will require uprights in a range of widths to allow optimum adaptation to different load requirements and building constraints. Beams that can be adjusted in small increments will allow, with careful design, the maximum utilisation of the full building height.
If the performance benefit of an automated system is to be realised, it will require racking that can meet the fine tolerances required, both in the manufacture and installation, for a stacker crane to run smoothly during put-away or retrieval.
Installation is only good as long as it works. Quality installation, regular maintenance and the ability to sort out stoppages quickly without a full shut down of the system is key. This applies to racking and shelving support structures as well as mechanics and electrics fitted to it.
Automated systems can be very expensive to acquire and the ongoing cost of their maintenance (and sometimes more expensively), downtime, add up to what can be an eye-watering investment.
There is no doubt that incremental gains can be achieved by opting or changes in design or configuration of racking and shelving systems. However this alone cannot deliver the accuracy, responsiveness and efficiency required today in comparison to those organisations that embrace a holistic and business led approach to their warehouse designs.
ROI is of course an important consideration for companies, which has, until now, driven a trend towards mid-level automation projects that ca demonstrate a rapid ROI. Many businesses also choose to employ a hybrid system for partial automation. Each warehouse is different and for some this might be the perfect solution.
Get in Touch with The Pallet Racking People
If you want to get the most from your warehouse then, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us on 0800 345 7088 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
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