BY PAUL FAGAN, MANAGING DIRECTOR, THE NENE GROUP
Pallet racking systems are the backbone of any warehouse, providing a safe and secure method of storing goods for picking, packing and shipping. Comprising of beams and uprights, this basic yet invaluable steel structure helps create order in a warehouse, maximising storage density and making the greatest use of floor space and roof height.
Today, customers expect their goods to be delivered without damage, on time and often to meet Just-in-time requirements. A properly designed rack storage system is a key component in the need to achieve customer satisfaction and continued growth. Companies, such as the Nene Group, specialise in designing storage systems that maximise productivity and operational efficiency.
Choosing the right type of racking for your warehouse necessitates answering a number of questions, namely: –
a) What size of a pallet will need storing?
b) Is access required for picking?
c) What beam size and load capacity will be needed?
d) What height is needed?
e) What type of decking is needed?
f) Will the racking be accessed by forklift trucks, reach trucks, etc?
SELECTING THE RIGHT TYPE OF PALLET RACKING
The most common warehouse racking is Very Narrow Aisle (VNA) or Wide Aisle with both offering immediate access to each storage unit (SKU). If the system is maximising headroom, it needs to be designed for full throughput and storage capacity. Some racking systems provide flexibility enabling them to be expanded as the volume increases.
Single-deep pallet rack is the most common form of racking. Because loads are stored only one pallet deep, single-deep racking provides the lowest-density storage of any pallet racking.
As implied, Double Deep stores one pallet load behind another in a rack structure. A reach truck is required to access the back pallet positions.
Combines a stationary rack structure with pallet carts and allows up to five loads deep to be stored from each side of the aisle for increased density. Push-Back racking manages inventory on a last-in-/first-out basis and provides up to 75% additional storage over conventional selective pallet racking.
Drive-In & Double Wide Drive-In
Creating extremely dense storage, Drive-In racking can be configured to store loads up to four or more deep to create extremely dense storage. The racking enables lift trucks to enter the bays from either end thereby increasing access to pallet loads. Double Wide Drive-In can store up to 35% more density than single Drive-In racking systems and can drastically reduce labour costs.
Can store long & heavier industrial loads such as timber and girders and allows unobstructed access with hard-to-handle items.
Combines a stationary rack structure with a conveyor to create a dynamic storage system. It allows easy rotation of inventory on a first-in/first-out basis and is typically used for storing dated products.
Provides storage for products of irregular size, weight and shape and is normally intended for manual loading.
NEW, USED OR RENTED
Whether a company uses new, used or decides to rent racking is usually dependent upon budgets and for how long that racking system is required.
New pallet racking is designed using CAD system to perfectly match the actual warehouse and the kinds of pallets that the system will be supporting. The depth, width and height of the largest load are also important in designing new pallet racking.
Reconditioned or used pallet racking does save money and is ideal for companies with small warehouses or start-ups and those that wish to add to an existing system. However, it is important that reconditioned or used pallet racking is only purchased from a reputable company and that it has undergone extensive safety checks.
It is now possible to rent all types of racking as well as shelving. Even specialized racking such as live and drive in storage are available for hire for any size of facility and for any period of time from two weeks to 10 years. Renting racking saves managers' time and effort in gaining approval for capital expenditure thereby ensuring prompt delivery for potential new business. It also enables companies to claim 100% capital allowances from the Inland Revenue for the rental, which can work out cheaper than paying cash.
HEALTH & SAFETY
Racking inspections need to be carried out every six months by qualified staff and repairs carried out promptly to meet health & safety legislation. Pallet racking uprights need to be protected against expensive and potentially life-threatening structural damage by installing deflectors. These moulded protectors are quickly and easily attached to uprights to form a protective bumper that minimises the force of a fork truck collision that can damage racking frames, vehicles and operators.
In warehouses with potentially flammable material, wire mesh decks unlike closed wood or metal decking, allows the smoke to rise directly to the sensors, which quickly activates the sprinklers thereby allowing water to progress unhindered to the source of the fire. Designed and manufactured to fit any pallet racking system, wire mesh decking quickly and easily drops over front and rear support beams for easy installation and relocation.
Pallet racking systems are among the most basic and yet useful materials handling tools. As warehouses depend heavily upon pallet racking, it is imperative a company carries out research and chooses a racking supplier that can provide a wide range of options and has the professionalism and knowledge to advise you on the best possible racking system for your specific warehouse.