Warehouse Racking

 By: Carmel White
Standard pallets make transport of goods much easier. The load is placed on the pallet and lifted and transported by forklift trucks that have lifting devices to lift the loads up to specific heights. Goods arriving at the warehouse might already be pallet borne, which are then quickly lifted by the forklifts and transported to the relevant racks for storage.

Pallets have been standardised to specific sizes that allow them to be lifted by forklift trucks and moved through doorways and other passages. Pallets accommodate unit loads which are used to facilitate transportation of goods using shipping containers. Several unit loads can be stacked one upon another on a single pallet for easy and quick transport using forklift trucks and other mechanical devices.
Unit loads can be packed tightly on standard warehouse racks and is an essential element of warehouse racking systems.

Pallets Increase Warehouse Racking Capacity and Efficiency

The compatibility between standard pallets and standard warehouse racks can eliminate wasted space on the racks, and allow for more dense storage. The density is also affected by other factors such as selective racking and gravity flow.

Selective warehouse racking allows a wide variety in the sizes of packages stored in the warehouse. Under this system, the shelf heights can be adjusted by fitting them into selected locating holes on the uprights that hold the shelves. As a result packages of different heights can be stored on shelves with the right height.

Selective racking allows access to all goods at all times which is important when inventory is moving fast. There will be aisles between the racks that allow movement of people and forklifts for storing and retrieving goods.

Very narrow aisles are often used to increase storage capacity. These aisles will have rails or other guides along the aisles to control the movement of forklifts.

A gravity flow system allows more dense packing. Under this system, the pallets move along rollers on slightly inclined warehouse racks making space available for more pallets. Stored pallets can be retrieved either under a LIFO or FIFO system depending on the requirements of the merchandise.

There are other warehouse racking systems such as drive in and drive- thru which allow forklifts to drive into the aisles for storing and retrieving materials. While drive- in has a common entry and exit point at one end only, drive- thru has entry and exit points at both ends. Again this difference affects whether goods are retrieved on LIFO or FIFO basis.

As would be evident, modern warehouse racking systems depend for their efficiency on standardised pallets, forklift trucks, unit loads and practices. Some even use remote or software controlled shuttles to move goods along the racks. These shuttles sense the position of goods through sensors built into them and can position themselves under the selected pallet for retrieval.
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