Excellent inventory management relies on an effective storage system for all of your goods. A rack storage system makes it possible to store almost any type of material in the most efficient and effective manner possible. Choosing a good rack storage system for your warehouse can be a tough job, but it's made all the easier with the following considerations.
What Are Your Options?
Racking comes in all shapes and sizes, each system tailored to handle a variety of materials and storage methods. You'll have to choose your racks based on how you manage your inventory, as well as the type of materials being stored:
- Single-Deep Rack - Commonly used in a wide variety of warehouse environments, this rack storage system offers the most versatility of its kind, since it can be used with nearly any type of lift truck. Storage capacity is its only drawback - it's only capable of holding one pallet deep.
- Double-Deep Rack – Unlike a single-deep rack, a double-deep rack can hold twice the pallets. However, you do give up some flexibility in comparison to a single-deep rack storage solution.
- Drive-In Rack – Just as the name implies, drive-in racks allow lift truck operators to drive into the rack storage bay, set their pallets down on the rails running along the bay and reverse out of the bay. Drive-in racks are ideal for first-in/last-out (FILO) storage scenarios where the inventory moves relatively slowly.
- Drive-Through Rack – Unlike a drive-in rack, a drive-through rack theoretically allows lift truck operators to drive through the entire rack. The main benefit is that operators can enter from both ends of the rack storage bay.
- Push-Back Rack – Push-back racks allow lift truck operators to push previously loaded pallets further back along the rack bay as new pallets are loaded. This is accomplished via a system of nested carts that are pushed backwards as lift truck operators load new pallets on the cart below.
- Gravity Flow Rack – With a gravity flow rack, pallets are loaded at the rear, only to travel towards the front of the rack along skate wheels or a roller conveyor. The rack is tilted so that the pallets safely travel using the natural flow of gravity. Gravity flow racks are ideal for first-in/first-out (FIFO) storage scenarios.
Consider What Materials You're Handling
Now that you know what your options are, it's important to consider how they'll fit with your company's storage needs. After all, different materials require different strategies for storage and overall inventory management. Perishable items, for instance, require a different rack storage solution than hardier non-perishables.
In addition, you'll also have to consider storage capacity. When choosing your warehouse's rack storage solution, you'll have to keep in mind the storage density that's needed to accommodate your inventory, the amount of lift truck access that's required and even how your personnel will pick materials for order fulfillment.
Your Building's Footprint Also Matters
The size and design of your warehouse will also have a bearing on the type of rack you'll choose. You have to take into account how much space your business needs to maintain its inventory, whether it's placed in rack storage or brought out on the floor for order fulfillment or other reasons.
There may also be structural limitations that prohibit certain types of rack storage systems from being employed. Structural columns, lighting structures, fire suppression systems and HVAC equipment can limit taller and wider types of rack storage systems. You'll also have to make sure that your planned rack storage system does not block any dock doors, fire exits or corridors used by lift truck operators.