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DYNAMIC STORAGE: CARTON FLOW RACK

on November 10, 2023

If you are only using static storage in your warehouse system, you might be leaving money on the table. As opposed to a static storage system where products remain in a stored position, Carton Flow Rack (also known as Gravity Flow Rack) is a dynamic or live storage system that incorporates a gravity-feed, rear-load design (similar to a conveyor). Carton flow racks support inclined rollers or wheels that allow cartons to glide by gravity from the back loading side to the front picking side. As an item is removed from the front, the item directly behind it slides forward.

Common industries that utilize carton flow racks are vehicle assembly, food and beverage, freezer storage, medical/pharmaceutical, and cosmetics.

PICKING EFFICIENCY

One significant advantage of carton flow over static storage is picking efficiency. With carton flow, goods are better organized and are easier to find and pick. Restocking and picking typically offer a great opportunity for improving efficiency within order picking operations. Because items in carton flow storage are always stocked from the rear and picked from the front, workers can perform both stocking and picking without interfering with each other.

With a static storage system such as standard shelving, the stockers and pickers are often doing a lot of unnecessary travel. Dynamic storage saves floor space and minimizes travel because fewer aisles are needed to reach the same amount of products. Gravity flow racks can reduce labor costs up to 75% in pick operations compared to static storage.

INVENTORY MANAGEMENT

FIFO (first-in, first-out) inventory management is always maintained with carton flow systems, ensuring that the first stock that comes into your warehouse is the first out. Good stock rotation created by FIFO systems is essential if you have perishable goods, such as food, medicine, cosmetics, products that could become passé, like fashion, or obsolete, like technology. 

A dynamic FIFO rotation of inventory ensures order picking always occurs at the most accessible pick point — the front of the storage system. This type of picking process is safer and more ergonomic because it eliminates the reaching, bending, and pulling required in static systems where product is picked within the structure.

WHEN TO USE CARTON FLOW RACKS

  • For split-case or full-case picking
  • When stocking many items of different sizes 
  • When picking items in small quantities per order
  • When moving at least two cubic feet per week
  • For medium and slower-moving SKU’s which represent 40-70 percent of an operation’s inventory

TYPES OF GRAVITY CARTON FLOW RACK
  

Wheel Track

The first mass-marketed flow rack, wheel track flow rack, uses inclined shelves with wheeled tracks to move cartons by gravity from the loading side to the picking side. The tracks are one wheel width and are used in pairs to form “lanes” in each carton flow shelf. Because these racks are designed from the ground up to be carton flow racks, you don’t need pallet rack to support the flow storage. Sold as starters and adder units, they are economical, easy to assemble, and relatively inexpensive to ship. Wheel track racks are for lighter, consistent loads that do not change over time.

Gravity Skatewheel Flow Racks

Instead of rails or wheel tracks, these heavy-duty racks use strong skatewheel conveyor sections, creating an entire bed of flow. Gravity skatewheel flow racks are not restrictive and have the ability to handle products of various sizes and weights without any required reconfiguration. They can also operate smoothly with less than perfect cartons. Skatewheel flow racks are often used in manufacturing and assembly plants because of their strength and versatility. Skatewheel beds can be easily configured to fit into existing pallet rack.

Full-Width Roller Track

Gravity roller tracks are integrated into specialized racks that are sold as starter units and adder units, or the roller conveyor tracks can be dropped into existing pallet racks to create lanes of rollers spanning the full width of the bay. Fullwidth roller carton flow systems are for same-sized cartons or containers requiring full roller coverage. They’re durable enough for heavier loads and easy to install, but you will need to select the appropriate roller widths for each carton size to avoid wasted space if the carts are too small or system hangups if the cartons are too large for your rollers.

IS CARTON FLOW RIGHT FOR YOUR FACILITY?

For pick operations, static storage is often inefficient and labor-intensive, typically requiring two to four times more pickers and twice the floor space than gravity flow systems. This inefficiency can cause problems with inventory control, stock rotation, and picking accuracy. Here are the advantages of dynamic carton flow:

  • Less time spent walking and searching for items means fewer pickers with less supervision. 
  • You save floor space because fewer aisles are needed to reach the same amount of products. 
  • You will always achieve FIFO stock rotation, eliminating problems with expiration dates.
  • Better ergonomics means fewer injuries and happier workers. 

Is carton flow rack right for your facility? If you can save time and steps by flowing goods to a location, the answer is probably yes. 

BUY NEW OR USED CARON FLOW RACK

If you are looking to save time, labor, and space with a dynamic gravity flow storage system, let the material handling pros at Camara Industries help you select the new or used gravity flow rack style that is suitable for your application. We have both new and used carton flow racks of all styles and nationwide distribution for freight optimization. Reach out to our material handling pros today to get started.