Bins and totes are handy in manufacturing and warehousing for keeping small parts and pieces organized and “pick ready.” They’re made from a variety of materials and come in an array of sizes and shapes with a wide range in load capacities. Carton flow rack is the most popular gravity flow application for bins and totes; however, pallet flow rack can be configured for tote or bin applications not suitable for carton flow (think >50 lbs.) or to meet unique operational restrictions/specifications.

The Mallard in-house Engineering Testing Lab recently tested totes for two customers where one application was perfect for carton flow and the other better suited for pallet flow. We thought we’d bring the two tests to our readers to show how and why we chose the best, efficiency-boosting system for each application.

Test 1 – Carton Flow for Tote Storage & Parts Picking

Flo-Guide Carton Flow Tote Storage - Mallard ManufacturingTest Criteria:

  • 5 different plastic totes
  • 24” wide, flat-bottomed
  • 0-25 lbs. per tote
  • 1” rim ¾” up from the bottom of the tote

Lane Design:

Test Results:

The test video demonstrates how the totes are fitted within the two carton flow rails to obtain consistent contact with the flat bottoms of the totes and to control the flow down the lane. The flanged-wheel design of the Flo-Guide carton flow helps guide the totes to a centered stop at the pick face. Guiding the totes keeps the lanes neat and organized which aides in faster more accurate picking.

Flo-Guide Carton Flow Tote Storage - Mallard ManufacturingFlo-Guide carton flow can be configured to accommodate a light-duty application like this auto parts test (<25 lbs.) or a heavy-duty application of > 40 lbs. It’s best to test your totes in the Mallard testing lab to ensure the carton flow lanes are properly designed for the specific inventory and tote design to attain optimized productivity.

Test 2 – Tote Storage & Picking from Ergonomic Pallet Flow

Pallet Flow Rack Tote Storage - Mallard ManufacturingTest Criteria:

  • Single plastic tote design
  • 29” wide corrugated, flat-bottomed
  • 40 lbs. per load

Lane Design:

  • 1 3/8” diameter full roller pallet flow
  • Rollers set at 2” centers
  • 3/8” per foot pitch
  • End stops mounted at discharge side

Test Result:

The 29” wide, postal-style totes push the upper max capacities for use in carton flow, so our engineers recommended the 1 3/8” full roller pallet flow. The totes had good, evenly-distributed contact with the rollers providing smooth, consistent flow. Note that custom end stops are mounted at the end of the lane to ensure that the totes remain within the lane at the discharge aisle until picked. The lane design also complies with food distribution requirements for washdown and safety.

Additionally, the pallet flow lane is configured to satisfy OSHA lifting recommendations for a single worker… filled capacity below 50 lb. Per OSHA, totes, bins or cartons heavier than 50 lbs. should be lifted using two or more workers.

Next Steps

From auto parts manufacturing to organic produce, totes and gravity flow systems work seamlessly to provide more efficient processing of the goods we all rely on. Let the Mallard team review your operational needs and design the solution that is most productive, cost-effective and beneficial for your workforce and your inventory. We’ve got options… and we know how to use them, so give us a call today and let’s get started!