What is Pallet Flow Rack?
Pallet flow rack is a FIFO (first in first out) high-density storage system using pallet rack. Gravity flow systems are placed inside of a rack structure. Pallets are loaded in on the front, pallets roll down and are unloaded on the opposite end.
Understanding Pallet Flow Rack
A pallet flow rack system is able to increase your storage space better than standard selective pallet rack. A pallet flow system increases your storage capacity by storing pallet loads in pallet flow lanes. This warehouse storage system allows you to eliminate aisle spacing and increase pallet positions. It is a high-density racking system that allows you to have proper stock rotation if you have products that expire.
Here is how it works. If the rack structure is empty, you take the first pallet and load it into the back of the system. The pallet will flow down on the track system to the front of the rack. You can then continue to load up the next pallet with however many pallets it will hold.
You unload the pallet flow rack in the front of the system. Your operator will take the lift truck and take out the front pallet on the side opposite that you loaded. Slowly take this pallet load out of the rack system, and the rest of the pallets will flow down to the front. The first pallet you loaded into the system will be the first out.
You can design your pallet flow rack to be as deep as you need it to be with deep lane pallet flow. The pallet flow lanes consists of pallet flow rails that are on a slight incline. This incline allows the pallet to flow in your gravity flow storage system.
Components of Pallet Flow Rack Systems
Pallet rack upright frames hold the system up vertically. The pallet rack beams are hung from the horizontally.
The rack uprights run front to back of the system. They are held together with pallet rack row spacers to keep the system rigid in the front to back direction.
Pallet Flow Rails
The pallet flow rails are what the pallet loads sit on. The pallet flow rails are at a slight incline and are what make it gravity flow pallet rack.
Full width rollers: Full width rollers allow you to flow pallets that do not have good bottom boards through the system.
Skate Wheel Tracks: Skate wheel tracks can be single wheel or double wheel. They can also be made of metal or plastic. Skate wheel tracks are the most economical solution.
Pallet Rack Beams
Pallet rack beams are what the pallet flow rails sit on. The bays can be single wide or double wide bays. They can be designed to be able to hold whatever weight your specific needs are.
The beams can be made of structural c-channel steel or hot rolled steel. They are typically adjustable on 2" centers.
Speed controllers or brakes for pallet flow racking keep the pallets from going to fast through the system. If the system is deep enough when you load up the system, the pallet could potentially get moving too fast. If the pallet goes too fast through the system it can hit the end and tip over. Speed controllers keep the speed of the pallet under control.
How to design your pallet flow rack
The first thing to consider when you are designing your pallet flow rack system, is to make sure your layout will work with your warehouse space. We offer free layouts and AutoCAD drawings to all of our customers to make sure there are no surprises on installation day.
The next thing to take into consideration is what type of pallet you have. Plastic pallets will take a different type of roller than a standard pallet or GMA pallet. You also need to consider if the pallet has point loads. If the pallet has feet on it, this can present a new set of challenges to make it work in your storage systems. If your pallets are wood, you need to make sure the wood pallets do not have chips in them, that could potentially get the pallet stuck in the system.
Clear height of the building is the next thing you need to look at. The height of the front of the system will be lower than the back of the system because the slant of the rails. You need to make sure the back of your gravity flow racking system has enough clear height for full pallets to be loaded.
Pallet flow rack is commonly used in picking systems like pick modules to flow pallets to the center of the module. Pallet flow rack differs from carton flow rack because you are loading full pallets into the system. The energy to flow the pallet flow rack is generated by the slope in the high density storage system. Pallet entry rails may be used on the rack uprights to help the forklift operator guide the pallet into the system and keep the pallet rack upright from being damaged in the process.
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- Sterling Lindsey