Pallet flow rack, also known as “gravity flow,” is a FIFO (first in, first out) dynamic storage system. Pallet flow rack makes it possible to achieve high-density storage while maintaining a FIFO retrieval order and product handling efficiency. Gravity flow pallet racking maximizes actual storage space by minimizing aisles. Gravity pallet flow systems can be designed to hold up to 20 pallets deep in one lane and allow for quick and efficient inventory turnover.
Customization is key in pallet flow racking systems and manufacturers offer multiple types of rollers to meet the demands of individual users’ pallets and products. Some manufacturers can even customize their pallet flow racks with speed controller capacities that are uniquely designed for users’ product weight ranges. The AK Design Group of rack systems specialists has decades of combined experience designing customized pallet flow systems and can help you create the pallet flow system that accommodates your own unique storage needs.
How Pallet Flow Rack Works
Pallets are loaded into the storage lane from the loading aisle and gravity fed towards the discharge aisle. The pallets are first placed onto rollers upon which the pallets easily flow towards the front of the rack system. Once they’ve glided to the front of the system, the pallets rest on pallet stops until they’re unloaded from the pick face. As pallets are removed or unloaded from the system, each of the pallets that were behind them “flow” into the next position via gravity. Pallet speed is controlled by the type of rollers and brakes engineered into the system.
Types of Pallet Flow Rack Lanes:
Full-width rollers: Because of their width of support, these are ideal for applications with multiple pallet sizes for products. Full-width rollers are also the most flexible pallet flow roller option available on the market.
Magnum (Poly) Wheel Rollers: These are the most durable type of pallet flow roller available. Magnum wheel rollers are ideal for pallet loads reaching over 3,000 pounds and are perfect for freezer storage applications.
Skate Wheel Rollers: Skate wheel rollers are typically used with standard wood pallets in pallet flow systems that have short lanes. Skate wheel rollers are generally the most cost-effective pallet flow roller option.
Pallet Flow Rack Safety
- Safe Loading
In pallet flow rack systems, pallets are loaded onto one side of the system and move via roller track to the other end where they’re unloaded. Therefore, it’s important to properly place pallets onto the loading end of the rack system as the operator takes care not to collide with frames or damage product. If pallet flow is being used for a push-back application, operators should be use caution when pushing the pallets, that are already on the roller track, backward.
- Safe Unloading
Once pallets have been carried via gravity to the unloading end of the rack system, they will sit at the pick face until unloaded. The pallet being unloaded is the only barrier between the next pallet in line and the front of the system, so it should be unloaded slowly to encourage a smooth transition.
Proper maintenance is the key to keeping your warehouse safe and preventing your pallet rack from losing its strength and stability. Like other pallet rack systems, it is advisable to perform routine safety checks on pallet flow rack systems in order to monitor the system’s structural integrity and verify the proper function of its parts. Specifically, wheel beds or roller tracks should be thoroughly inspected to ensure pallets will properly flow and remain on the track when moving through the system.
Advantages of Pallet Flow:
- Space-saving, high density storage
- Customized, tailor-made design and layout
- Dynamic “flowing” warehousing
- Fast — Immediate access to every product
- Versatile — Well-suited to refrigerator or freezer storage applications
- Practical and efficient
- Operator friendly
- Tested for your unique application
- Time-saving — only one input and one output aisle
- Minimal maintenance and reliable
- References from all types of industries
Pallet Flow Pallet Rack Limitations
- High capital investment compared to other rack systems
- High pallet quality required
- Limited selectivity
- Limited number of SKU’s
Pallet Gravity Flow Rack System Components
Gravity flow rack systems are made up of two main parts:
The rack structure: depending on your application environment, pallet flow racking can be engineered with either structural or roll formed pallet rack, offering you the best solution for your operations.
Pallet flow wheels, rails and brakes: These components are all selected based on the individual application.
Pallet Flow Roller Product Testing
Our pallet flow products are fully tested to meet the demands of your pallets and operations. We work with the manufacturers to set up a sample system to test your pallets and deliver a successful project.
Frequently Asked Questions:
- How many pallets deep can pallet gravity flow hold?
Most pallet flow rack systems can hold anywhere from 2 to 25 pallets per lane. However, custom-engineered pallet flow systems can be designed to store an even greater number of pallets per lane if necessary.
- What is the estimated lead time for a pallet flow project?
Lead times for pallet flow projects are similar to other engineered rack systems, which generally hover in the 8 to 12-week range. Lead times can be influenced by the approval process, but otherwise remain fairly static.
- What is the typical pitch of a Pallet Flow Lane?
The pitch of a pallet flow lane can vary from system to system. That being said, the most common pitch given to pallet flow lanes is 1/2” per linear foot. To illustrate this, imagine a pallet flow lane that is 20’ long. If the pitch is 1/2” per linear foot, the loading end of the lane will be 10” taller than picking end. This slant allows the pallet to “flow” effortlessly from one end of the system to the other.