Do you work within the food and beverage industry, particularly at a warehouse? 

If so, you will be pretty familiar with the unique material handling challenges synonymous with this industrial space.

Unlike your typical dry goods warehouse, food and beverage warehouses have to consider an extensive range of factors, whether it be handling chilled, frozen, or refrigerated products. Each item has to be cared for and maintained according to the appropriate sanitation standards, health compliance, and storage efficiency.

Food and beverage warehouse.

With all of these components to consider, it may seem challenging to maximize efficiency and safety within your warehouse space. Different food industries may have varying objectives too. For example, fast turnaround, long-term storage of food, etc. – each posing its unique issue.

Unique challenges. Much of this involves a supply chain that provides ample room and pallet rack systems to maximize space and efficiency. Racking thus provides that much-needed organization to facilitate accessibility and space-saving within the warehouse. We have identified some of the challenges that you may face when storing food and beverage are following:

  1. Cost: The Need to Reduce Costs and Maximize Productivity.
  2. Dealing with SKU Proliferation
  3. Maximize Storage (Pallet Positions)
  4. FIFO Requirements
  5. Food Sanitation

Ambient Vs. Cold Storage Areas

Since most operations have both types of storage and production areas, should they be treated differently for a rack design? Generally, the same principles apply for both ambient and cold storage. But, there can be important rack considerations that are different such as having your rack galvanized for certain types of coolers or wash down areas. Another example is that freezer racking should be heavily reinforced and designed to prevent rack and product damage as operators tend to be operating at a higher speed.

Rack types for the Food and Beverage Industry

Our experience has shown that High Density Rack systems are the prevalent style of rack. Pushback, Pallet Flow, Mole Systems, and Drive-in are used in both ambient and cold storage environments. Selective rack will always have its place as well to take advantage of all of the available space in a plant or the applications of small lot size per SKU.

Cold storage three level pallet racking system utilizing floor level storage with cantilevered legs, second level drive-in, and third level push back.

Criteria for Rack System Design

The following is a list of criteria that we take into consideration when designing a Food and Beverage warehouse:

  1. Is FIFO Required
  2. # SKUs
  3. Total Pallet Positions needed
  4. Pallets per SKU
  5. Sanitary Requirements
  6. Open Product? I.e. Drip pans required
  7. Temperature
  8. Forklift type
  9. Space allowed for storage
  10. Guarding /Reinforcement Needed

By properly planning and choosing a proper pallet rack system, you can increase productivity, safety, product damage/loss and reduce the number of errors that come with warehouse performance. We have worked with market-leading companies in a range of Food Industry sectors. We have a wide variety of clients within the Food and Drink Industry.

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About AK Material Handling Systems

We deliver value to our customers by providing the absolute best combination of quality products, helpful customer service and competitive pricing. We specialize in warehouse layout & design, pallet rack systems, engineered sales, mezzaninesmodular offices and completed turn-key warehouse systems. For more information email us or call (800) 722-5908