Whether you are kitting out a warehouse from scratch or adding to or upgrading your current racking, it is important to consider just what you will need, not just for the present, but in the future. Obviously, it is never easy to work out what kind of stock levels you will need to keep looking ahead, but by looking back at order books it should be easy enough to work out a trend. If you stock seasonal items, this will also have a bearing on what racking you need, because you will always have one area of your warehouse without very much activity, depending on the time of year.
If possible, make enough space to accommodate the stock without having to move it because this is not only very labour intensive but also creates more chance for items to become damaged. If this is the case in your business, you should be looking at space saving options, so that you can stock as much as possible in the main warehouse. You will also need to consider carefully what type of racking you need if your inventory is date-sensitive. Losses can be considerable if items don’t get used in proper rotation and so go off or pass their sell-by date.
Pallet racking speaks for itself – it is racking specifically designed to take pallets loaded with inventory and there are usually two sizes available to allow for the two most commonly found sizes of pallet. The load between two beams is usually 2000 kg which is adequate for most kinds of pallet loads – essentially this is 1000 bags of sugar, a unit which most people can understand.
If your inventory is very heavy you will need to put the beams closer together. As it is the beam that bears the load, it is easy enough to calculate. When planning a warehouse it is important to allow enough room between the rows to get the lifting equipment in and turned ready to add or remove the pallets.
Although it is tempting to keep the rows as close together as possible, from a health and safety point of view it is better to allow a little more room because working in confined spaces can cause accidents and if there is a miscalculation on the part of the driver, it could have very serious consequences regarding shelving being knocked over, or even a crush injury. Pallet racking can be extended by buying additional units, so it is easy to buy as you go along if you are building a business from scratch.
Longspan racking is ideal for items of moderate weight, but heavy duty longspan racking is also available. If your inventory consists of many small items – ironmongery for example, or car parts – longspan racking with individual boxes set in is ideal, because stock picking is much easier if small items which are shipped in small numbers from the warehouse are much more accessible if decanted from their boxes into dedicated drawers. This lends itself to chaos warehousing, as items can be moved en masse if ordering levels change, without enormous changes taking place in the shelf layout.
Longspan racking can be placed quite closely together if you are not using lifting equipment and is very accessible – with careful shelf filling, two warehouse staff can access from both sides, which speeds up order filling.
Cantilever racking is ideal if your warehouse stocks long items such as timber or plumbing items. With strong frames it has a good load bearing capacity and is very easy to clean beneath as there is no frame at the front to impeded brushes or even mechanical cleaners.
Cantilever racking can be easily extended or shortened by simply adding or subtracting an upright, so it particularly useful for any warehouse that tends to deal in varying inventory. It is particularly popular with building trade stockists and works very well with sheet and bar racks, which can be accommodated between uprights as required to save space and to give the option of having everything needed for one project to be stored together.
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