Shelving Systems

 By: Carmel White
One size fits all is simply not applicable as far as storage solutions are concerned. You can't store a steel beam weighing a few tons in a storage bin meant for nuts and bolts, nor can you store frozen food in racks meant for the display of cosmetics merchandise. Shelving systems emerged in response to the varied storage needs.

Shelving systems also developed solutions that solved the original problem, creating or saving space. With advanced technology, storage solutions that were not feasible earlier became possible. For example, electrically operated systems could move whole rows of shelves horizontally to create aisles on demand typically doubling storage capacity of a given space.

Mobile Racking Systems involve laying rails on the floor to which the rack bases are fixed along with electrically or manually powered moving mechanisms. A particular row of racks can then be moved to open up an aisle into which forklifts or humans can move and access required items. The aisle can be closed once the items are accessed and a new aisle opened if necessary. The overall result is that storage capacity of available space can be increased to the maximum extent possible. No space need be reserved for multiple aisles which are necessary for stationary racking systems with several rows of racks.

Pushback Racking Systems involve pushing back existing storage pallets. Such pushing back utilizes space several levels deep without the need for space consuming walkways. Forklifts can retrieve even items stored at the deepest level if necessary.

Narrow Aisle Racking Systems are similar to conventional racking systems with the only difference that the aisles are narrower releasing space. Specialized forklift trucks that run on rails in the aisles can load and retrieve materials stored on the racks, which can have multiple rows of shelves as high as the trucks can raise their load.

Remote Controlled Shuttles move along the tunnels in racks. Forklifts place standard sized pallets on the shuttles which are then moved to desired spots through remote control and the cargo unloaded. The procedure is reversed when retrieval is needed with the shuttle positioning itself under the pallet and bringing the retrieved pallet to the pickup end. Both 'last-in-first-out' and 'first-in-first-out' are feasible under this system.

Numerous other options are available under shelving systems. For example, if height allows, a mezzanine floor can be built between the floor and ceiling, creating more space for storing files or other materials. Bins of metal or plastic can store smaller items of different sizes and the bins can be arranged in convenient ways, possibly on mobile racks with wheels.

Shelving systems are varied and limited probably only by your imagination and the technology available. Just visualize the unique needs and how these can be best solved.
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