Park Logisitics - Creating Supply Chain Solutions

Park Logistics - Creating supply Chain Solutions

Creating Supply Chain Solutions
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STORAGE SOLUTIONS – Knowledge is best defence – Racking supplier advice may be prejudiced

Warehouse racking/shelving have diversified hugely over the last 50 years to deliver more cost effective storage solutions but in the process it has thrown up the need for greater care in the selection process. To further complicate matters, buyers contemplating new installations or extensions are faced with the possibility that the advice they receive from racking specialists may not be the best kind because they want to sell their own kit and as much of it as possible. Another snare to avoid is choosing racking based on price primarily. Mobile racking, for example, may cost three times as much as APR but the former’s much denser kind of storage means much lower construction and running costs.

chazTo counter these risks, buyers could consider using a specialist consultant familiar with not only racking but all the interfacing equipment like forklifts. At the very least, however, buyers should be acquainted with the various types of forklift capabilities. This is important because it could affect the overall size of any warehouse and therefore the pallet handling productivity rates, so important in meeting today’s e-commerce demands for fast delivery.

Consider, for example, a leading company that provides a package of racking/shelving, automation and forklifts. Their various software packages can be useful in showing the impact on goods throughputs of various storage scenarios by asking many ‘what if’ questions but their  product portfolio may exclude certain types of more cost-effective trucks. In such a case, they may suggest that reach trucks in their product range would be a better choice than counterbalanced trucks because of the space they can save. However, an even better space-saving choice would be articulated forklifts, which need only 1.6 mt wide aisle as opposed to a minimum of 2.6 mt needed by reach trucks. Such a space saving typically means the articulated trucks offer 30% more pallet positions than reach and 50% more than cb trucks. This difference has substantial implications for building costs, utilities, productivity rates, rent and rates and so on. In cold stores, in particular, where energy costs typically are 20%-30% of total warehouse running costs, choosing the right kind of truck is just as important as choosing the right kind of racking.

Generally, it is the nature of the stored products’ dynamics that will govern the choice of racking mix, and so to ensure a successful installation warehouse management must research their history of stock flows, by volume, SKUs, sizes, weights, time sensitivity, hazard levels, packaging and demand variations. At the same time they should allow for flexibility to cope with future changes in demand, especially crucial in automated or semi-automated situations.

If fast-moving, high-volume pallet loads typify an operation then the most commonly found racking, APR, will be the usual choice as this allows instant 100% accessibility. If, however, there is a certain level of stored product homogeneity then operators could consider using forklifts with pantograph or telescopic fork attachments for double deep storage, a method that would improve storage density by up to 40% compared with standard APR.

There are some misconceptions about the true costs of racking, which should not be measured merely in terms of cost per pallet installed. On that simplistic level, the various types of racking could vary 15-fold. It is the lifetime costs that should take precedence.

Despite racking’s low costs there remains a flourishing market in second-hand racking. This can be a profitable way to save investment costs but buyers should beware that there could be hidden or unknown damage present within the structure. No matter how stringent an operators’ safety procedures may be there will be damage to racking, especially in narrow aisles and with drive in/drive through racking. Another problem area is customer alterations as this can threaten racking integrity if not done according to the rack maker’s rules. Changing beam levels, for example, will affect frame loading. Repairs should be done according to manufacturers’ guidelines, and racking audits, following accidents, are best left to experienced engineers. Some of the leading rack makers offer useful guides for racking buyers along with inspection audits.

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