When it comes to running a warehouse, any manager knows that efficiency is the key word. This applies not only to work operations and the moving of stock in and out of the warehouse, but to the shelving and racking systems too – the way they are set up, and the way they are used. We have looked at the different types of shelving solutions that are available in previous blogs. In this one we focus on racking – and try to answer the question of what efficient warehouse racking is.
As with warehouse shelving, there are many different types of racking options available. Every warehouse has different needs and different dimensions, so there is no one best, or universally applicable, racking system. The important thing is that the racking fulfills your storage needs while making optimum use of the space available (particularly vertical space), and allowing for smooth workflow.
Pallet racking systems are widely used, with each sub-type offering different advantages in terms of efficiency. For example, pallet flow racks, also known as gravity flow racking systems, make use of metal rollers and reduce aisle space for floor space optimisation and ease of stock movement. Push-back pallet racks are especially good at increasing storage density. Carton flow racks are great for warehouses with high volumes of stock movement. And of course, basic pallet racks (also called standard pallet racks, or selective pallet racks) can be used simply and reliably.
Slightly less common racking systems can also be very efficient. Two examples include cantilever systems – good for unwieldy, bulky stock such as timber and steel, and mezzanine racks (though these can be expensive to install). Racking should be used with shelving systems for maximum organisation. A good tip – and something which I have found very useful – is to place rotabins in corners and at aisle ends. These are super for the storage of accessories and small parts.
Some warehouses work well with mobile racks and racks that allow drive-in, drastically cutting down aisle space. Other warehouses may find that stationary racks better suit their needs, and yet others may opt for a combination of types. In very large warehouses with high rates of workflow, managers may find that installing conveyer belt systems enhances the overall efficiency.
Technology is actually an important part of efficient warehouse racking. For one thing, when planning your racking systems, it is vital to consider how they will be integrated with your moving systems, such as fork lifts. For another, technology in the form of software and corresponding labelling systems can be leveraged to improve the organisation of the racking and stock storage and movement.
Efficient warehouse racking is cost-effective warehouse racking. There should be no wasted space, and no racking left to stand empty. In addition, for racking to remain efficient, it is important that it be regularly and thoroughly inspected and maintained. Any damage should be noted and dealt with quickly. The breakdown of a rack can have serious health, safety and financial consequences.