Retail goods distribution centers may be similar in function but vary widely in method and operation. A recent Mallard in-house engineering testing lab challenge for a world-renowned luxury accessories manufacturer really put this theory to the test. Their case-picking needs were different from any other retail products fulfillment operation that we’ve supplied… and so it made sense that the best solution was unique as well. We’re pretty sure you’ve never seen pallet flow rack like this before…

Warehouse Challenge

  • Single SKU cases are picked and put to mix, multi-SKU, pallets.
  • Cases are picked from the mixed pallet and placed on conveyor.
  • Average pallet weight – 500 lbs.
  • Inventory – luxury accessories

Test Lane Design

  • 3-rail wheeled, floor-mounted pallet flow
  • Pallet jack access ramp
  • Hydraulic lift table with pneumatic pallet release – charge side
  • Ergo Cell pneumatic pallet separator with lift table – discharge side
  • Drop-in speed controllers

Pallet Flow Rack - Mallard Manufacturing

Picking a Place to Start

The main structure of the lane design is floor-mounted pallet flow comprised of 3 rails of polycarbonate wheels.  At either end of the system we placed hydraulic lift tables with pneumatic pallet releases and here’s why…

Charge-Side Design

The pallets are moved via pallet jack, not forklift, to the flow lane. So, the first challenge is to get the pallet at the right height for the lift table that we’ve positioned at the charge end of the lane. Mallard’s pallet jack access ramp is the perfect product for this because it allows the pallet jack to drive up to lift table height and deposit the pallet. Once the pallet is on the lift table, the worker uses a foot-operated control to lift the table to the height of the pallet flow lane. The worker then easily pushes the pallet from the table onto the lane where a pneumatic release device holds it in place until the worker presses the release button that allows it to flow. Drop-in speed controllers manage the flow of the pallets down the lane and help ensure they remain centered for the smoothest operation.

Drop-in Speed Controller

Discharge-Side Design

The discharge end of the flow lane is equipped with the Ergo Cell pneumatic pallet separator with lift table. Slightly different from the charge side in that the Ergo Cell is a pallet separator engineered to hold the rear pallets in the lane from bearing down on the pick-position pallet. It’s designed specifically to work with the hydraulic lift table. Here’s how it works in in this application…

The reserve pallets are held back by the Ergo Cell separator from the last pallet position so that the picker can safely and easily pick the cases then remove the empty pallet. If the pallets were pressing against the front position pallet it is more dangerous and difficult to remove the empty pallet from the lane. The worker lowers the lift table with the foot-operated control then releases the rear pallets with a simple button push. Once the pick face is replenished, the worker raises the lift table again to a comfortable pick height. Case picking at an ergonomically adjusted height improves efficiency and minimizes worker strain. Again, once the empty pallet is removed, the worker lowers the lift table, presses the release button and the pick face is once again replenished and the rear pallets advance.

Picking Pallet Flow

Pneumatic Pallet Release

Pallet flow racking is perfect for case picking. Employing the lift table and Ergo Cell technology to control pick height and pallet flow creates a highly-efficient operation that benefits robust productivity expectations while safeguarding valuable inventory and protecting workers from repetitive injury claims and downtime. Using quality pallets also enhances the function of your pallet flow lane.

What pallet flow and/or carton flow picking and fulfillment challenges are your warehousing staff facing? Let the Mallard gravity flow experts analyze and test your system and inventory specs to design the perfect solution to meet your needs in this highly-competitive and results-driven economy. We’re up for the challenge, contact us.