As 2020 rolls to a close we couldn’t resist bringing you this recent full roller pallet flow test. Nothing represents this past year better than the image of giant rolls of white paper flowing out of a distribution center. While these rolls aren’t the infamous white paper of 2020, the test is a really good review of the concerns about point loading and how to go about finding a universal pallet flow solution for varying sizes of inventory. The good news is that despite the challenges this story has a happy ending!

Full Roller Pallet Flow Test Parameters

  • 1.9” diameter rollers
  • 2” wheel centers
  • Ultra-grip rollers with FIBA speed controllers
  • Speed controller spacing at 46″ intervals
  • Pitch 3/8” per foot over 30’
  • 360 – 1700 load weights

Full Roller Pallet Flow with Ultra-Grip Rollers

Field Installed Speed Controller Assembly

Lane Design to Overcome Inventory Challenges

The Mallard Engineering Test Lab conducted this pallet flow test to ensure that the system would deliver positive, consistent results for the customer. Of the 9 wooden pallets supplied to our team, most were standard-sized 40” x 48”. Two were smaller at 32” x 40’ and 40” x 40”.

Typically, we recommend full roller pallet flow systems for plastic pallets. In this case, however, the wood pallets show a great deal of bowing due to the load concentration of the inventory in the pallet center. Using full roller pallet flow allows the best pallet to roller contact to combat the point load challenge in this case.

The Ultra-Grip rollers and speed controller combination controls the speed of the pallets across the wide range of load capacities. Only the lightest weight pallet struggles to fully flow down the lane. The pallet is easily restarted with one of two options. Loading another pallet into the lane will restart the stopped pallet as will as using the Plugging Method when extracting pallets from the lane. Plugging suggests that the forklift operator simply push back a little before extracting a pallet from the lane. By nudging the rear pallets in this way, it will prompt flow to restart.

Taking a Bottoms Up Approach

Something we caution about regularly is pallet condition. In this test, we saw pallets with obvious warping, broken boards and protruding nails. Pallets in poor condition are always a concern in a gravity flow rack system as they can get caught up in the lane and cause warehouse safety issues plus productivity slowdowns. We recommend training forklift operators to quickly scan pallet for obvious damage or dangling plastic before loading pallets into the lane to prevent mishaps.

If you’d like the Mallard team to design and test a pallet flow lane to address warehouse storage needs and productivity goals, just give us a call. Our team is ready to work with you to tackle the challenges your operation is facing. Let’s put the power of gravity to work… and let’s put 2020 in the rear view as we look to a brighter new year.