CARTON FLOW RACK
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 type of dynamic, or live storage system that incorporates a gravity-feed, rear-load design (similar to a conveyor). Carton flow racks supports 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 rack are vehicle assembly, food and beverage, freezer storage, medical/pharmaceutical, and cosmetics.
WHEN TO USE CARTON FLOW RACK
- For split case or full case picking
- When many items of different sizes are stocked (500+)
- When items are picked in small quantities per order
- When at least 2 cubic feet per week is moved
- For medium and slower moving SKU’s which represent 40-70 percent of an operations inventory
One big 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 the greatest 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, both picking and stocking functions can be performed 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. With dynamic storage, floor space is saved and travel is minimized because less 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.
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 important 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 is always done 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 that is required in static systems where product needs to be picked within the structure.
TYPES OF GRAVITY CARTON FLOW RACK
The first true mass-marketed flow rack, wheel track is a flow rack design that uses inclined shelves with wheeled tracks to move cartons by gravity from the loading side to 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 used 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, and they can operate with less than perfect cartons. They 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
Roller tracks are integrated into specialized racks that are sold as starter units and adder units, or they 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.