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 warehouse rack systems are loaded from the backside, and the product (boxes or cartons) flows to the rack system’s front 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 industrial systems, carton flow provides an ideal case picking strategy for products that are picked 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 known as carton flow rack(s), gravity flow rack(s), flow rack(s), 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 about carton flow racking before incorporating it into your warehouse layout design.
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Advantages of Carton Flow
First-in, first-out order picking
Less floor space used
Lower labor costs
Less product damage
Better inventory control
It can be used in existing pallet rack applications
Labor time reduction
Easy to re-slot or reconfigure
How Carton Flow Rack Works
Carton flow rack is a FIFO (first-in, first-out) storage system. Carton flow can be implemented with pallet rack systems or as standalone units. The cartons or boxes are loaded onto one side of the pallet rack system and picked from the other end after sliding 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 design allows rollers to turn independently of each other. Full-width rollers provide a large surface area, which evenly disperses the weight of totes and cartons across the rollers. By spreading the load this way, full-width roller lanes decrease the risk of roller wheels leaving imprints on cartons.
Roller lanes are typically used in applications requiring dedicated lanes of carton flow, as well as operations that do not require a wide variance in carton sizes.
Wheel beds 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 provide a pattern of alternating or staggered wheels to spread the carton weight across the bed. This ensures that no single or group of wheels takes on more weight than the rest of the bed, reducing the risk of imprinting.
Wheel beds differ from full-width rollers in that they can be placed side-by-side, offering an uninterrupted bed of carton flow across an entire level. This makes wheel beds ideal for operations where carton sizes have a high level of variance and operations where bays must be re-slotted for a changing product line.
Tilted shelves are made of mesh wire or solid metal. They angle towards the pick face, allowing SKUs to flow forward once an item is picked. The angle also increases visibility/accessibility for split case picking by exposing the top of the carton to the order picker. Unlike flat, static shelving, tilted shelves lack a “dead zone,” or an area at the back of the shelf that an order picker cannot reach. 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 a product in the dead zone.
Titled shelves are well-suited for slow-moving SKUs. Because they are typically much shallower in depth than roller lanes, wheel beds, and wheel rails, tilted shelves are not ideal for SKUs that require frequent restocking.
Wheel rails are plastic, aluminum, or steel wheels mounted directly within a channel. Wheel rail designs vary greatly; some models have wheels mounted on individual axles, while others are mounted within the channel with 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 at varying distances and arrangements.
Wheel rails are not load-bearing, which requires intermediate support within the rack. Cartons and totes can get stuck on the rails if wheel rails are not parallel within the rack. Ultimately, wheel rails are best utilized when flowing smaller, lightweight cartons to avoid movement of the rail and imprinting of the carton.
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