As the squeeze on budgets and space tightens, the push for faster output is a way of life. We’ve seen a big increase in demand for high density, high throughput order picking systems. Food processors, beverage manufacturers, retailers, and even wholesalers are integrating pallet flow to achieve dense FIFO storage, up to 10-12 pallets deep, combined with efficient case picking from the front pallet position. Each lane has the ability to store a unique SKU, achieving 100% selectivity if needed.
These high volume case-pick applications optimize space and productivity, but also warrant some caution for warehouse operators and order selectors. Continual bending, straining and lifting of cartons and pallets from lower or floor level pallet locations can put considerable physical strain on order pickers, causing repetitive motion and lower back injuries. A significant and often under-estimated culprit is the pressure caused by the weight of rear pallets pressing on the empty front pallet. Once all cases are selected, the order picker has to remove the empty pallet, allowing the rear pallets to flow forward toward the aisle face. While the weight of an empty pallet is only 40 – 60 lbs., the pressure exerted by the rear pallets and their loads is far greater, approximately 6% of the total weight of each of the rear pallets.
Example: In a 4-deep system, 2000 lb. loads, the 1st pallet receives the equivalent pressure of .06 x (2000 lbs. x 3) or 360 lbs.
The good news – Mallard has solutions to remove rear pallet pressure, eliminating back strain and reducing the risk of injury.
Mallard Foot Operated Pallet Release
Mallard’s foot operated pallet lock/release mechanism was designed specifically for pallet flow case pick applications. The device locks rear pallets in place, maintaining a gap between the front pallet and remaining rear pallets, preventing the loads from applying pressure while the operator selects cases. Once all cases are selected, the operator can comfortably and safely remove the empty front pallet, then use the foot release to gently flow the next pallet forward.
- Reduce repetitive motion and back injuries
- Allow operators to remove pallets manually without added back pressure
- Prevents injuries caused by having to force or kick remaining pallets back
- Saves on insurance by reducing workers compensation claims
Other Tips & Tools to Ease Pain and Injury
- Employ ergonomic order picking practices to maximize efficiency and prevent injury
- Learn proper bending and lifting techniques for repetitive tasks
- Avoid excessive bending to reach pallets
- Avoid stepping into the rack (between the flow lanes) to reach rear cartons
- Implement safety guidelines, employee training and picking tools to reduce injury risk
- Design your pallet flow system with speed controllers to allow pallets to travel at safe speeds
- Set-up a pallet return lane to safely collect and send back empty pallets
- Consider Mallard’s Foot Operated Pallet Release for safe pallet flow case picking (see above)
- Lift the pallet height of the front pallet to reduce excessive bending/lifting motion, using Mallard’s Ergo Cell Pallet Lift Table.
Do you need help designing a high volume case pick system? Contact Us, or call our systems experts from some free advice to get you started. Request a site visit to see the action first hand at a convenient Mallard customer location.
Call (800) 243-6694
See the Ergo Cell in Action