For the past couple of months, my warehouse efficiency was dipping at regular intervals causing avoidable problems. To make space, aisles were getting used leading to overcrowding of the shipping and receiving ports. Several SKUs and pallets were mixed up in storage locations making it difficult to find specific products when needed. In some sense, things were really getting on to the nerves, and I was getting more worried with each passing day.
A few days ago, I met James at a weekend party and casually mentioned my problems to him. He listened to me very carefully and suggested that pallet racking systems can potentially solve my problem quickly. At first, I was somewhat sceptical, but when James insisted that I should give this a try, I agreed. James also gave me a couple of contacts, who had expertise in pallet racking and I agreed to explore the suggestion given.
On Monday morning, I contacted the people James had mentioned, and by the weekend I had a blueprint of what could be expected. After having examined the initial plan, I was keen to examine different options that I had in pallet racking, before deciding on the final choice. Consequently, the following options were placed before me.
Selective pallet racking
This system offered the following advantages:-
- Storing different pallets in each storage point
- Could use multiple types of forklifts for storing and retrieving pallets
- Depending on the moving equipment employed, aisle width could be very narrow or wide
- Pallets could be stored and retrieved efficiently and quickly
- Pallets of different shapes and sizes can be accommodated, particularly when wire mesh is used
- Supports rotation of FIFO inventory
- With fewer errors in retrieving, the system improves productivity
- Wire decks/safety bars are recommended to prevent pallets stored above the ground level from falling to the ground.
Double deep (selective) pallet rack system
- Increased density of pallet racks between the aisles
- More storage space per pallet for forklift operators
- All retrieving and storing functions can be performed by deep reach trucks
- Flooring space saving up to 30%
- Enhances storage capacity by 40%
- Poor visibility in the rear is, however, a regular complaint from forklift operators using this type of racking.
- Saving in floor space up to 40%
- Can store 60% more pallets compared to the single deep pallet rack
- Different pallets can be stored in each location
- Retrieving and storing pallets easily with the help of centralizers stops and blocking devices
- No need for forklift operators entering the racking to retrieve or store pallets thus enhancing productivity
- Free from debris and dirt and hence more suited for storing food products
- Connecting carts to prevent product jamming and damages which can potentially be dangerous
- Offers better visibility for forklift operators since they have a better view of the front portion of the rack. Also, the forklift operator can remain on the operating side to enhance productivity.
Armed with plenty of information on the functionality of differing pallet racking systems, it was now my turn to align the information with my specific needs. I noted down the following details before moving on to my choice:-
1. Fortunately, the floor to ceiling height of my warehouse was a good 15 feet. That gave me plenty of liberty in determining the layout of the whole warehouse, how the racks would get positioned, how I keep some free some for future needs etc. I was also able to build in adequate moving space for the forklifts and people who managed the movement of material in and out of the warehouse. All safety aspects were taken into consideration, and a blueprint was ready.
2. Selective pallet racking was my choice since it offered great versatility and provided 100% selectivity for every pallet position. I also noticed that I needed more aisles and the storage density was less than some of the other options. Considering the kind of business I was involved with, these factors did not present a huge challenge for me.
3. Having zeroed down to what I would have, it was time to find appropriate vendors. This task was perhaps the easiest. I spent about an hour on the internet and once again came across an amazing range of options from multiple vendors. The fact that I had already done some ground work came in handy in eliminating duplicate information and focusing only on my specific needs.
4. Three vendors were chosen, and I asked for a meeting with all three of them. The following week I completed all the meetings, and it was now time to go out and inspect some similar installations in my neighbourhood. Two of the vendors were happy to assist me with these, and by the weekend I had a complete picture of what I was about to embark upon.
Over the following two weeks, the selective pallet racking I ordered was installed, and when the job was completed, I got all my stocks neatly moved into the racks following a system that was already existing. I was amazed to notice the functional enhancement and the neat, uncluttered space all around leaving even some extra space for future expansion. For the present, I decided to use the extra space to create a staff room and that decision was gleefully greeted by all members of my team.
The final part of my warehouse reorganisation, as you have possibly guessed right was to call James to come over and take a look. He gladly accepted the invite and confirmed that he would join me the following Saturday. Since my business is open only five days a week that was more than convenient. James did arrive with his family and was mighty impressed with the way things were organised.