Pallet Flow Racking
Pallet flow racking systems share a lot of the same mechanics as push-back racking systems, largely in that their motion is achieved by sloping a rail to propel pallets in a certain direction. In terms of density, pallet flow is comparable to both push-back and drive-in/drive-thru rack but falls between the two in functionality. Pallet flow rack is less limited in achieving larger depths than push-back systems that rely on individual carts for each palletized load but require greater evaluation of the structural integrity of the pallets themselves. Very deep systems are also recommended to be styled more similarly to drive-in/drive-thru systems, with only a single pallet width per bay.
RBI’s pallet flow racking systems utilize a combination of sloped beams and a depth-spanning roller system. There is a wide variety in flow track types designed to meet nearly every application of pallet racking storage; from heavy, poor-conditioned palletized loads to many SKUs pallet flow offers the most ‘coverage’. Fork trucks interact with pallet flow systems exclusively at the front and rear – allowing for the system to be loaded as a selective pallet rack system would be. The fork truck will approach the higher end of the system and deposit the pallet. Once the load leaves the forks it will slide through the depth of the system and arrive in the next available pallet location. This design makes pallet flow very helpful not only for storage but for facility flow-through in the warehouse itself.
For example, a fork truck could be unloading at a dock and depositing the pallets into a pallet flow system. The pallets would then be gravity-fed into the “exit” position further into the facility where they can be removed by another operator. This design creates a first-in, first-out system – ideal for moving large numbers of SKUs while also keeping the product on the rails for as little time as possible. Food applications, such as soda storage or even fresh produce can be stored in a highly dense storage rack configuration but not run into the ‘last-in, first-out dynamic’ of push-back or drive-in/drive-thru systems.
Pallet Flow as Push-Back Pallet Racking
Pallet flow rack systems can also be used with the intention of only accessing pallets from a single end. This configuration negates needing an extra aisle at the rear of the system as fork trucks can simply push the pallets back and up the slope. By utilizing pallet flow as push-back rack, system depths can exceed what is feasible by telescoping carts and can be installed with the rear of the system close to a wall. This not only factors in increased storage density but also decreases the footprint required to use the system.
Pallet Condition & RBI Storage Solutions
For pallet flow systems, pallet condition is a highly important aspect of design that should always be evaluated extensively. Poor condition pallets can result in less than desirable performance or outright failure if not evaluated carefully. However, RBI can provide a wide range of solutions that can be used:
- For pallets with excellent to good quality, two pallet flow rails per pallet lane becomes an option. The wheels or rollers can be singular or staggered for variances in SKU sizes.
- For pallets with fair quality or in cases of heavy loads, a center roller lane can be added to spread out the load bearing of each pallet.
- For poor quality pallets or large variances in SKU sizes, full width pallet flow rollers can be provided.
Several different types of accessories can also be added to tailor a pallet flow system to each individual client’s demands. These range from guidance devices that can be installed throughout the depth of a system to keep lanes separate or at the entry points of the system to help with loading, to braking systems that provide a more controlled flow particularly in very deep systems.