Warehouses are typically designed to make the best use of available floor space to facilitate efficient storage, picking and packing.

The recent rise in the demand for consumer goods, particularly pharmaceuticals, food & beverages and textiles has highlighted the need to make better use of space. According to research by Transparency Market Research, the logistics sector is expected to grow at around 10-15% in the forthcoming years, largely due to continuing growth in the retail, e-commerce, and manufacturing sectors. Labour costs and rentals will continue to increase, adding cost pressure on top of growing volumes. All of this means that manufacturers and distributors must use their warehouse facilities more efficiently. The question is: can you redesign and optimise your existing facility to provide more space, or might you have to move to a bigger warehouse?

Are you maximising your storage space?

Poorly organised storage has a detrimental impact on efficiency. Modern space-efficient storage systems, including some automated solutions, have been developed to fulfil the need for more speed and accuracy. Maximising your storage facilities and capacity has many benefits:

•Lower operational costs

•Efficient inventory management

•Better productivity and employee satisfaction

•Improved safety

•Customer satisfaction

When considering the best system for your warehouse, study the available floor space, any underused or negative areas, and the specific product requirements such as cool or dry storage, and medium and long term needs. The characteristics of the product will define the type of storage needed. The ideal solution is often a combination of more than one type of racking system. The aim is to achieve more efficiency at least operational cost whilst considering both safety and maintenance.

The different types of racking solutions

A warehouse racking system is a storage solution designed to stack materials in horizontal rows with multiple levels. These systems can help you manage and better utilise your warehouse space. Choosing the right storage systems for your warehouse can be challenging; the choices are many. Some of the most common types of racking systems are:

1. Selective Racking

The selective racking system is popular due to its inexpensive design and having the largest selection of sizes and accessories. This racking system is excellent for immediate access to products.

This type of rack is used to store pallets in either single or double-deep modes. Single-deep racks allow full pallets to be stored side by side, so all pallets are accessible from the warehouse aisle. Double-deep options increase storage density by allowing two pallets to be stored back to back.

2. Pallet Flow racking

The ‘classic’ pallet racking system remains the most used storage solution due to its relatively low investment costs and flexibility. The pallet flow racks are a high-density storage system that use a combination of elevated rails and dynamic components such as gravity rollers, conveyors, etc. Using this racking system can double or even triple the storage capacity of your warehouse and is useful for expiration date sensitive products and where there is a high number of different stock-keeping units (SKUs) or where needs are constantly changing.

3. Case or carton-flow racking

This type of racking consists of shelves equipped with rollers or wheels that allow cases or cartons of product to flow forward as they are picked. It is used extensively in retail applications and those with slow-moving SKUs.

4. Drive-in racks

The drive-in racking system offers maximum density storage of products by allowing products to be stored in multiple positions deep, cutting down on aisle space. These are free-standing self-supporting racks that allow drive-in access to forklifts. Large amounts of similar products can be stored in a limited space making this solution cost-effective.

5. Push-back racking

The push-back pallet racking system offers more pallet storage while maintaining better selectivity as different lanes are used for each SKU, making them easier to locate, pick, or put-away. Push back warehouse storage racks use front loading/unloading, which eliminates the need for multiple aisles. This high-density storage option is like drive-in racking but can store pallets up to five deep. Unlike drive-in, every push-back bay can store a different SKU, and all pallet access is done without entering the rack. The system is commonly used in food and cold storage applications.

6. Narrow Aisle Racking

Narrow aisle racking emulates the characteristics of selective racking, which offers better access to every pallet. The warehouse storage racks set up high-density storage by making better use of the floor area and roof height.

7. Cantilever racking

This type of system is used to store long products, such as pipes or lumber. Products are stored across the arms, allowing a forklift to pick up the load from the centre.

What is available in the market?

The market for warehouse storage and racking systems market is expanding, delivering more design choices.

Selecting the right warehouse storage solution can be a confusing and exhausting task due to the wide variety of systems available in the market. There are upwards of 25 key players, each providing a range of equipment and solutions. Some of the leaders are Daifuku Co. Ltd., Kardex AG, Interroll Dynamic Storage, Jungheinrich AG etc. It is worth considering suppliers that in addition to offering racking, shelving and flow lanes, also provide a container range and a choice of accessories.

A note on safety

Safety is an important consideration, especially in terms of ergonomics and worker protection. The storage solutions offered by the leading manufacturers are designed to protect workers. In the UK, equipment safety is overseen by SEMA (Storage Equipment Manufacturers Association).

How to decide on the next steps

First, understand your requirements. Think long-term when creating your specifications. Consider the following:

•How much warehouse space is available for storage?

•How one or more types of racking systems could maximise your available space.

•What is the forklift accessibility considering aisle width?

•What is your budget?

Call to action:

The right combination of warehouse storage systems will help you maximise your space for proper inventory management and help streamline warehouse processes. SCCG can help you optimise your facility to reduce costs and maximise the space. Our warehouse consultants can assist you in finding the best storage solutions and help you understand why it is good to have a longer-term plan. Give us a call on 01926 430 883 or complete our enquiry form on our website www.sccgltd.com

 

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