With a First-In/First-Out product rotation, carton flow storage racking is commonly found in warehouses with high volume order picking. These gravity driven systems are loaded from the back side and the product (boxes or cartons) flow to the front of the rack system for pick and packing. These products typically include split case and piece picking products such as candy, small parts or small boxes. Carton flow or span-track rack storage systems can be built custom to match your SKUs.
With adjustable shelf levels and multiple roller options, a “pickologist” is a must when planning your warehouse design. Our pickologists specialize in analyzing the application and finding the best solution. Are you a beer distributor or brewer looking to optimize your warehouse storage, improve efficiency and create a more ergonomic warehouse? See our Keg Storage webpage.
In use with pallet rack, carton flow rack systems provide an ideal strategy for incorporating case picking with storage of product that picks by the layer from full pallets. These systems can be custom engineered to compliment the order filling traffic flow. Carton flow rack systems are also commonly known as carton flow racks, carton flow rack, gravity flow rack, carton flow, flow racks, flow rack, flowrack, cartonflow, gravityflow, span track and numerous other names. Interested in learning more about carton flow and its applications? A member of our Design Group will help you learn everything you need to know about carton flow racking before putting it to work in your warehouse.
Advantages of Carton Flow:
- First in, first out order picking
- Less floor space used
- Lower labor costs
- Less product damage
- Better inventory control
- Can be used in existing pallet rack applications
- Labor time reduction
- Easy to reslot or reconfigure
How Carton Flow Rack Works
Carton flow rack is set up as a FIFO (first in, first out) storage system. Carton flow can either be designed to be implemented with pallet rack systems or to work as standalone units. The cartons or boxes are loaded onto one side of the pallet rack system and are picked out of the other end after having slid down the wheel bed.
Types of Carton Flow
Roller lanes typically consist of full-width steel or aluminum rollers suspended between two channels, each on an independent axle. This allows rollers to turn independent of one another. Full-width rollers provide a large amount of surface area, which allows the weight of totes and cartons to be dispersed evenly on the rollers. By spreading out the load in this way, full-width roller lanes decrease the risk of roller wheels leaving imprints on cartons.
Roller lanes are typically used in applications that require dedicated lanes of carton flow, as well as operations that do not require a wide variance in carton sizes.
Wheel beds also consist of rows of plastic, steel, or aluminum wheels suspended between two channels. Each row of wheels is mounted on a single axle, but many wheel bed options offer bearings that allow the wheels to turn smoothly and independently of one another. Wheel beds typically offer a pattern of alternating or staggered wheels to spread the weight of the cartons being flowed across the bed. This ensures that no single or group of wheels takes on more weight than the rest of the bed, which reduces the risk of imprinting.
Wheel beds differ from full-width rollers in that they can be placed side by side to offer an uninterrupted bed of carton flow across a full level of pallet or flow rack. This makes wheel beds ideal for operations where cartons tend to differ in size, as well as operations where bays must be re-slotted for changing product lines.
Tilted shelves can be mesh wire or solid metal and are angled towards the pick face in order to allow SKUs to flow forward after the item at the facing is picked. The angle also exposes the top of the carton to the order picker to help increase visibility and ease of access for split case picking operations. Unlike flat, static shelving, tilted shelves lack a “dead zone” or an area at the back of the shelf that cannot be reached by an order picker. This eliminates the need for a shepherd’s hook and ensures that order pickers do not engage in unsafe picking practices like stepping up on the rack to reach product in the dead zone.
Titled shelves are well-suited for slow-moving SKUs because they’re typically much shallower in depth than roller lanes, wheel beds, and wheel rails. Tilted shelves aren’t recommended for SKUs that require frequent restocking.
Wheel rails consist of plastic, aluminum, or steel wheels mounted directly within a channel. Wheel rail designs can vary greatly; some models have wheels mounted on individual axles, while others are mounted within the channel using rigid studs. Wheel rails can also use an alternating wheel pattern or a single, vertical line of wheels. Each wheel rail is independent of the next, which allows the rails to be placed in varying distances and arrangements.
Wheel rails are not load bearing, meaning they require intermediate support within the rack. If wheel rails are not parallel within the rack, cartons and totes can get stuck on the rails. Ultimately, wheel rails are best utilized when flowing smaller, more lightweight cartons in order to avoid movement of the rail and imprinting of the carton.