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How To Understand Flow Storage Racks

May 18, 2017

1)  Consider flow storage when efficient storage is critical and space limited.

Flow storage is useful in many applications including ambient, cooler, and freezer environments, raw materials receiving and storage, work-in-process, buffer storage, finished goods and cross docking.  It is also often successfully used in pick module and automatic storage and retrieval systems (AS/RS).

 2)  Understand how flow storage works.  Unlike traditional selective rack, a pallet flow storage system has two parts: a static rack structure and dynamic flow rails.  The flow rails are set at an incline in the rack structure, which allows loads placed on one end of the rack to move by gravity down to the unloading end.  Rollers let the loads move smoothly while self-energized speed controllers act as gentle brakes.  As a load is removed, the loads behind it move forward automatically.

 However, due to pallet flow system design as well as moving parts, there are additional things to consider.

 Pallet Flow Design Considerations

3)  Choose a design that can adapt to both current and future needs.  Because budget and inventory requirements change at both the facility and corporate level, it is wise to select a flow system with a design that can grow as your business needs grow.

 “With flow systems, bays can be added to groups and the bay widths and depths can be easily be expanded to hold additional inventory, which allows you to buy for your current needs and expand later,” says Ryan Wachsmuth, Dynamic Storage Sales Manager at Steel King Industries (steelking.com), a major designer and manufacturer of warehouse material handling, storage and safety products.

 4)  Ensure that the flow storage system has enough rack strength.  To be even more accommodating of future needs, such as higher or heavier pallets, Wachsmuth also advises selecting a flow system that provides vertically adjustable beams and ample strength.

 “You can always re-profile your flow rack to handle higher, heavier pallets if you design for it,” says Wachsmuth.  “Let’s say you use a 48” high pallet today, but decide later that a 60” high pallet is more efficient because you want to add two more levels of ice cream to each pallet.  A system with vertically adjustable beams would allow you to do it, provided you have the rack strength.”

 5)  Ensure that capacity matches capabilities.  When you design your flow storage system, you have to know your warehouse’s capabilities and limitations.  For instance, know how low girders, trusses, warehouse lighting, HVAC ductwork, and sprinklers and fire suppression lines hang, and determine how much clearance is required.

 In addition, before you begin loading the system it is critical to consult with the local fire marshal and get their approval on the design and layout to ensure it meets fire code regulations.