Deep Lane Pallet Rack Storage
Working backwards is often a great way to get the right solution. Your numbers indicate that you have or are planning for high volume, low SKU inventory movement.  With efficiency and high-density storage as your goal, which system will deliver the best results? The decision can be daunting with warehouse efficiency riding on your choice. This week’s blog will help you decipher the pros and the cons of the major high density systems available; Drive-In Rack, Pallet Flow Rack Systems (our favorite!) and Automated Deep-Lane Shuttle Systems.

Drive-In Pallet Rack
Drive-In pallet racking is cost effective, but limited to LIFO product management and not a fit for storage of dated goods.  If you already use LIFO product management, then drive-in may be an option, but you also have to consider the added time and labor needed to drive in and out of the system as well as less than ideal inventory management, i.e. the honeycombing effect.

Pallet Flow Rack
An excellent option for deep-lane storage is pallet flow rack.  In a pallet flow rack system, product is loaded from one aisle and unloaded from the opposite aisle.  Gravity moves the pallet along slightly inclined rails from load side to the pick face.

 pallet flow rack - side viewPallet Flow Pros:

  • Cost effective in either deep or shallow-lane configurations
  • Maximum selectivity – unique SKU stored in each lane
  • Lower installation and maintenance costs
  • Easily reconfigured for shifting inventory specs
  • Orderly & efficient separate aisle loading and unloading
  • Braking systems control pallet for product & worker safety

Pallet Flow Limitations:

  • Requires warehouse personnel to load & pick
  • Requires front and back aisle
  • Limited to FIFO product rotation

Automated Deep-Lane Shuttle Systems
The automated deep-lane shuttle system offers fast and efficient high-density product movement in a space-saving design.  The shuttle itself is battery powered and remote control operated.

Shuttle Pros:Deep lane pallet shuttle

  • Maximum selectivity – unique SKU stored in each lane
  • Ideal for deep storage – 24-26 pallets deep
  • Best suited for high-turnover, low SKU inventory –20-100 SKUs
  • Fast pallet storage/retrieval
  • Increased productivity — freeing operators to work elsewhere while shuttle picks pallets
  • Utilizes vertical warehouse space most effectively due to limited required bay height
  • Efficient with LIFO or FIFO inventory management

Shuttle Limitations

  • Additional shuttles may be needed to handle increased demand or output requirements at a cost of up to $50k each
  • Automated systems may require higher maintenance costs
  • Lane changes require moving the shuttle –decreasing productivity
  • Electricity costs for battery charging
  • Tall configurations require specialized fork truck equipment

Automated Shuttle vs. Pallet Flow

Both deep-lane pallet flow racking and automated shuttle systems offer efficient storage and movement of high-density product in a condensed space.  Unlike shuttle systems, pallet flow isn’t limited to low SKU inventory to be cost-effective, however initial costs for a deep-lane pallet flow rack can be about 25% more than a pallet shuttle system. For the long term, pallet flow does not incur the incremental cost of new shuttles (if needed to increased productivity) and higher operating and maintenance fees associated with shuttle systems.

Let one of our gravity flow experts help determine the best high density pallet storage solution for your business. Give us call – we’re happy to help.

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