We constantly ask for gravity flow challenges that we can test in our Engineering Testing Lab and boy, recently we got our wish.  A Midwest auto parts supplier was looking for an efficient pallet flow rack system, but the challenge was that they relied on not just one or two, but three different types of plastic pallets plus metal container pallets too!  With so many pallets and several pallet flow options, the testing lab got right to work to hone in on the best solution for this customer.

Our first pallet flow rack test was designed to examine the “flow-ability” of the three different plastic pallets.  Plastic pallets can prove challenging as we’ve noted before because the bottoms are not flat surface like wooden pallets for example, plus heavily-loaded plastic can tend to conform to the rollers of a pallet flow system when they sit for long periods of time.

For Test #1 – we tested the 3 different plastic pod pallets on full roller pallet flow.  Full roller is a good choice for pod pallets because it provides as much surface area as possible to connect with the pod feet plus the uniform design easily accommodates changing pallet configurations.  None of the three pallets were exactly the same so change was one thing we knew we had to plan for.

Test #1 – Plastic Pallets with Pod Feet

  • Full roller pallet flow on 2” centers
  • 40# Indirect mount speed controllers
  • 30’ lane length at 7/16” pitch
  • 40” x 48” pallets
  • 565 – 930 lbs. loads
  • Single & double stacked heights tested, double not recommended

Mallard Gravity Flow Test Video with Full Roller Pallet Flow RackAs you will see in the video, one pallet had holes in the pod feet.  This pallet was less controlled and very fast down the flow lane because it had even less connection with the rollers than the regular pod pallets.  This is an important consideration when purchasing these types of pallets.  The speed controllers did their jobs though and the pallet still safely advanced down lane.  Double stacked loads were tested but we found them to be too unstable and inconsistent in flow so we don’t recommend double stacking with these plastic pallets.

The pallets did hang up after being left overnight but with a simple plugging (gentle push-back of front pallet before extraction) the pallets can be restarted.  Also, loading new pallets from the charge aisle will dislodge stuck pallets.

metal container palletOK, so we had our first solution for the plastic pallets but what about these interesting metal container pallets?  These pallets have narrow, 4½” long feet that protrude from the otherwise flat surface of the pallet.

For Test #2 – We decided to test a 3-rail wheeled pallet flow system to see if only the flat portion of the pallet could sit on the rails leaving the legs off the rails of the pallet flow lane.

As you can see in the video that was the perfect plan.  The rails were raised 6” to safely clear the legs and the pallets flow very well in single and double high. Speed controllers slowed the product enough for safe controlled flow and the addition of ramp stops at the end of the flow lane helped guide the pallets to a gentle stop.

Mallard Gravity Flow Test - Magnum Wheel with Metal Container PalletsTest #2 – Metal Container Pallets

  • 3-rail wheeled system
  • Drop-in speed controllers
  • 30’ lane length at 1/2” pitch
  • 48” x 48” pallets
  • Rail positioning raised 6” to allow clearance for pallet feet
  • Ramp stops gently stop the pallet at end of the lane
  • Single, double and triple stacked height, triple not recommended

Well you could say that we got what we asked for when we asked for a challenge, but more importantly, the customer got what they asked for in two pallet flow lane configurations to accommodate their existing product and pallet inventory.  Can we help provide a solution for your storage and order fulfillment challenge? Contact us today and we’ll get right to work!

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