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Distributor's Link Magazine Fall 2020 / Vol 43 No 4


74 THE DISTRIBUTOR’S LINK STEEL KING INDUSTRIES INC. 2700 Chamber Street, Stevens Point, WI 54481 TEL 1-800-826-0203 EMAIL WEB HOW TO MEET PEAK PRODUCT DEMAND WITH EFFICIENT PALLET FLOW RACK by Ryan Wachsmuth Retailers and the warehouses and distributors that support them know that empty shelves lead to lost sales. But, in any period of peak demand – whether in a crisis like a pandemic, hurricane or other disaster; or a holiday season, etc. – retailers’ shelves can become notoriously empty when logistical bottlenecks occur in the supply chain. When warehouses and distributors are driven to get more product to stores and consumers, having a more effective racking system that organizes the product and provides quick access for loading and unloading is essential. In this respect, a pallet flow rack system is exceptional and can be a key tool in helping logistics professionals quickly and reliably meet peak demand whenever first-in, first-out (FIFO) product retrieval is required, while minimizing labor and forklift travel. On top of this, the racking can store up to 100 percent more product than selective racking and reduce aisle space by 75 percent. Simply defined, this type of dynamic racking system is designed so that when the pallet in front is removed by a forklift, the pallets behind gently “flow” forward to replace it. Inclined tracks, rollers, and brakes – with an assist from gravity – are used to accomplish this task. New inventory is then loaded at the back end of the rack, facilitating FIFO product rotation, which is particularly valuable for items with expiration dates. Flow storage is useful in many applications including ambient, cooler, and freezer environments, raw materials receiving and storage, work-in-process, buffer storage, finished goods and cross docking. It is also often successfully used in pick module and automatic storage and retrieval systems (AS/RS). Expedite Fulfillment, Minimize Labor In terms of improving shipping logistics, there are significant benefits to using a flow system. Pallet flow rack can drastically reduce the labor required to pick pallets, because a forklift is only needed for initial loading of the pallets as well as final unloading. With static racks, forklifts must travel further down aisles and often must spend time rearranging inventory to access the correct items. However, when tailoring a pallet flow system to an application, it is necessary to plan for efficiency. “Forklift travel distance can be minimized with proper pallet flow planning,” says Ryan Wachsmuth, Dynamic Storage Sales Manager at Steel King Industries, a major designer and manufacturer of warehouse material handling, storage and safety products. He explains, “You don’t have to travel hundreds of feet to pick a pallet. If you install pallet flow rack in the ideal location, you may only have to travel twenty feet to pick a pallet. When you return, the next pallet is waiting. This minimizes labor as well as speeds loading and unloading.” Wachsmuth says to let gravity do the work with pallet flow by designing pallet unloading as close to the truck loading dock as feasible. BUSINESS FOCUS ARTICLE CONTINUED ON PAGE 148


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