Simply put, pallet flow racking systems consist of sets of rollers integrated into a supporting structure of frames and beams. The supporting structure can be either welded or bolted using standard pallet rack components for maximum flexibility and lower costs. Rails fitted with a series of rolling wheels are then integrated into the support frame, operating using gravity. Support beams are placed at the appropriate heights within the lanes to maintain proper pallet flow, and flow tracks are fitted onto the beams to facilitate the pallet’s movement. These flow rails decline from a higher loading side of the structural or boltless pallet flow rack to the unloading or pick face side of the pallet racks. Pallet flow speed controllers control the speed of the pallet as it moves down the flow rails. As one load is removed from the unloading side of the pallet flow racks, the next load flows down into the unloading position. Rails can either be standard or full roller, depending on the application. Lanes are typically anywhere from a few pallet positions deep all the way on up to 20 pallet positions deep.
Pallet Flow Rack features many advantages over standard pallet racking. First and foremost, pallet flow is a key component in any high-density FIFO (First-in, First-out) storage system. It offers the highest storage capacity for FIFO without the use of automation. It also allows for near maximum usable floor space optimization, with retrofit drive-in racking seeing an increase of up to 75% more utilization. Aisle space is reduced as well, freeing up more floor space for storage. Flexibility is another game-changing feature of pallet flow. If an operator is utilizing standard pallets throughout, standard pallet flow can be utilized, saving money across the board. However, if use of multiple types of non-standard pallets is required, full conveyor rack roller rails can be installed, making the transition seamless.
Many industries can greatly benefit from utilizing pallet flow. Trades that specifically require cold storage in their manufacturing, storage and shipping processes are big proponents. Businesses like beverage producers appreciate the cost savings that a dense system like pallet flow affords, as it is more economical to keep a refrigerated warehouse cooler. Temperatures are kept more consistent as a result, resulting in less product spoilage and overall better quality. Beer producers enjoy the full roller features of pallet flow, as they often utilize many different types of pallets in their manufacturing processes. Pallet flow is similarly highly suited to frozen-storage warehouses, food distribution or high-volumes of consumer goods. Gravity flow pallet racks are also good for buffer warehouses and dispatch areas where pallets need to be removed quickly.
It should be noted that all pallet flow systems are custom designed, built and installed depending on where and how they will be utilized, and what product or pallets they will hold. Creating a unitized system that will work properly and last a lifetime requires a strong partnership between manufacturers, installers, and project coordinators. Nowhere is this more evident than in the partnership formed by Hannibal Industries, Mallard Manufacturing, and Conveyor & Storage Solutions, Inc. Hannibal is the largest manufacturer of pallet rack west of the Mississippi and a leader in the field; Mallard sets the bar as far as pallet flow components and systems are concerned; and C&SS have been Southern California’s premiere material handling and storage experts for over 28 years, experienced in design, permitting, installation and project management. Each individual customer’s needs are carefully evaluated, considering industry, warehouse design, product and pallet specification, locations, current facilities, and myriad others factors to create the best possible outcome. Mallard goes so far as to test the custom designed pallet flow systems in their laboratory to ensure the design meant for them will work every time. Hannibal can provide any necessary pallet racking uprights and beams to make the system work. As a Master Dealer for Hannibal, C&SS is then able to help both parties work in concert, orchestrating timely delivery, installation, and polish.