Pallet flow speed controllers function exactly as the name suggests, they control the speed and tracking of the pallet as it flows down the lane. Speed controllers are recommended in a number of pallet flow lane configurations to ensure system effectiveness and safety. Deep-lane systems, heavy or bulky pallet loads, and non-standard pallets that inconsistently connect with the wheels or rollers are all good examples of systems that benefit from the addition of speed controllers.
Speed controllers in a pallet flow lane perform several functions:
- Ensure the pallets do not gain too much speed progressing down the lane.
- Keep the pallet from drifting in the lane.
- Improve warehouse safety to ensure the pallet arrives squared with the pick face for quick, easy forklift removal.
Now that we’ve established that speed controllers are the safe, easy route to make sure your pallet flow system operates effectively, let’s explore when it is ok to design a lane without speed controllers even if some of the normal triggers are present. A recent pallet flow test serves as a good example of how it can work, and what are the potential downsides.
The Mallard in-house Engineering Testing Lab conducted a test using heavily-loaded plastic pallets for a major grocery store chain. Typically roller pallet flow is best for plastic pallets and since these were pod pallets, split roller pallet flow made the most sense. The aim is to get constant or nearly constant contact of the pallet and rollers and so 3 rails of 9” wide rollers worked to make those contact points. The rollers were set close together on 2” centers for the same purpose. The pallet load weight ranged from 1500 lbs. to a significantly heavier 3000 lbs. which would normally suggest that it would be prudent to add speed controllers to the lane. However, this lane is only 2-pallets deep, so the team worked with the pitch level to create both a safe and effective pallet flow lane.
- Split rail pallet flow: 1.9” diameter 9” rollers on 2” centers
- Load Weight: 1500 – 3000 lbs.
- 2” centers provide the capacity needed to handle the weight of the loads.
- ¼” per foot pitch
- 2-deep pallet lane
As you can see in the test video, both pallets flow down the lane without difficulty; however, we found that the heavier of the two did not restart on its own after sitting in the lane overnight. With the pitch as slight as it is, it’s hard for gravity to take over and restart the pallet. The good news is that with a gentle nudge from the forklift operator while extracting the discharge pallet, the rear pallet will again begin to flow. We call this process plugging the pallet flow lane.
Safety and efficiency are the focus of the Mallard team. How can we most effectively harness the power of gravity to help you in your warehouse storage and distribution challenges? With a wide range of products and configurations at your disposal, we will work with you to design the best system to meet your needs, just contact us today to get started.