Chicago Pallet Rack Shelving

January 21, 2019

What Should Your Aisle Size Be Between Your Pallet Racks?

When you have a new pallet rack system installed, it can be tempting to just eyeball it or directly place the new pallet racks exactly where your old ones were. Unfortunately, eyeballing it can be completely useless. And just putting the new ones where the old ones were? You’re squandering an excellent opportunity to improve your warehouse’s efficiency.

When it’s time to get new pallet racks, we always suggest you make use of a professional warehouse designer in order to get the most space from your warehouse and the industrial pallet racks inside. An expert in warehouse optimization can use software to calculate the absolute best way to make use of every square inch of your warehouse, which could solve you a lot of problems in the future. When you speak with them, you’ll probably discuss the various options regarding how wide to make your aisles. Let’s take a look at the aisle options and what a more efficient space can mean for your warehouse.

 

What Are The Size Options?

In general, there are three basic widths of aisles between pallet racks. The first is called standard and is the most common, which is the aisle width for your basic forklift. This width gives a twelve-foot space so that a forklift can turn around.

The other two size options are narrow and very narrow. As you might expect, these types of aisle widths require specialized equipment to make them work. Narrow aisles often require a stand-up reach truck (standing forklift), while very narrow aisles will most likely need wire or rail picking.

 

How Do You Choose?

There are many aspects that you and your warehouse space optimization expert should look at when it comes to deciding which aisle width to go with:

  • Get Rid of Some Aisles – It might sound strange, but getting rid of aisles is an option. If you have inventory you don’t have to access that often, double deep pallet racks might allow you to compress your pallet racks and do away with some aisles altogether.
  • Think About Your Inventory – If your average pallet rack is full of large items, or if the weight necessitates standard counterbalanced forklifts, you’ll probably need to stick with standard aisle sizes. But if you often deal with smaller or lighter items on your storage racking, you might be able to squeeze things together a bit more.
  • Your Equipment Might Decide – The cost of your current equipment always has to be considered when it comes to switching from standard aisles to something more narrow. Will you save enough money switching to narrow aisles to offset the cost of selling your counterbalanced forklift and purchasing stand-ups? We can help you figure out the cost savings of changing aisle widths versus replacing your equipment.
  • Go Half and Half – Depending on the kind of inventory you have, you might be able to reduce the aisle space between some of your pallet racks and leave the rest of the inventory space as is.

 

What Can More Space Do For You?

What can reducing your aisle size — and warehouse optimization — do for your bottom line? Let’s take a look.

  • Keep More Inventory – The primary reason that most warehouse managers contact us for a warehouse audit is that they’re running out of space and want to keep more inventory in the same space. Reducing aisle widths can certainly help with that.
  • Make Customers Happier – Having the item on hand and being able to get to it quickly will make your customers that much happier
  • New Inventory System – If you’re doing a complete redesign of your warehouse, it might be time to implement a new warehouse management software (WMS). Doing so could make you more efficient across the board.
  • Keep The Same Warehouse – Too many warehouse managers think that their only option when they want more space is to expand the current warehouse or build a new one. While there are situations in which that makes the most sense, many times simply hiring warehouse layout optimization experts can prevent the need for such a huge expense.

 

Contact DAK Today!

The fact is, making the most of your warehouse space can save you lots of money, so it’s always a good idea to bring in a warehouse optimization expert. When you make use of every inch possible, you can hold more inventory and satisfy more customers. You’ll make better use of your employee’s time, and you might even be able to prevent building a second warehouse altogether. Remember, the decisions you make now could affect your warehouse capacity for years to come.

If you’re unsure about the width you’ll need — and honestly, it can be difficult to tell without the right warehouse layout software — it might be time to contact a professional. Call DAK Equipment and Engineering to get the process started!

 

 

 

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December 11, 2018

When Robots, Drones, and Automated Forklifts Rule Your Pallet Racks

As we write this blog, it’s December of 2018, and the new year is right around the corner. Depending on the products you keep in your warehouse, this could be the least busy or the busiest time of the year. Sales will certainly change during the course of the year depending on whether you sell lawnmowers or snowblowers, or bathing suits or winter coats!

While most people think of warehouses as being technology wastelands, more warehouses are becoming automated and sometimes contain the most complex pieces of machinery a business owns. This is certainly true when it comes to warehouse robots, forklifts, and drones, which are three of the hottest trends in the future of warehouses. Whether it’s stocking pallet racks, finding inventory on them, taking inventory on a daily basis, or picking and packing from industrial conveyor systems, there’s no doubt that automated machines will play a big part in the future of warehouses.

The new year seems as good a time as any to talk about warehouse trends and what it means for the future of industrial pallet racks and material handling systems, including how they’ll work with robotic machinery. Not all of these will apply to every business, depending on your supply chain and the inventory you sell. But we’ll bet you’ll be looking to “hire” something robotic in the next five years.

Robots

Robots in warehouses aren’t necessarily new. They’ve been stacking pallets that come off of production lines and conveyor systems for decades. They’re quite good at loading a pallet as efficiently as possible to make the best use of space and to keep the load even.

While those big pallet-loading machines would spin their arms around quite a bit, they were usually stationary. The big change that has been occurring with robots recently is how mobile they are, sometimes sharing space with their human counterparts. Some robots are involved in stocking inventory, while others can pick and pack.

One benefit of robots is that they can work all-day-every-day, and they don’t need to take breaks (except for recharging, which some robots deal with by changing out their own rechargeable batteries). Some can even work with the lights off.

 

What About Your Warehouse?

Whether or not you’ll be “employing” robots anytime soon depends primarily on the workflow of your warehouse. Do you have thousands of items going out the door on an average day? Then you might want to investigate what robots can do for you. On the other hand, if you stock large items that are worth thousands of dollars and only ship a few items out per week, you’re more likely to stick with a traditional forklift.

 

What Are The Problems?

Machines can be efficient, but when they’re inefficient then they’re very inefficient. A machine that breaks down — whether it’s software or hardware related — will take a specialist to fix, which means that it could be down for days at a time. And that’s after it’s already caused a mess of inventory.

Another problem that robots encounter is robot/human interaction. While robots can be programmed to spot humans, they can’t always be relied on (yet) to avoid bumping into people’s ankles or running over their feet. In many warehouses, it’s the humans who are told to avoid the robots…”just in case.”

It’s also important to remember that machines are there to do work, which means they’re taking jobs away from people. While that might be exactly what you’re looking for in order to save money, it could also be a public relations nightmare.

Automated Forklifts

A forklift might be your next robot. While most people think of robots as being machines the size of a microwave, they certainly don’t have to be. It’s very likely that, in the future, you’ll simply tell your robot forklift which pallet you need and it will go get it for you. (You might not even have to tell it, if it notices that inventory levels are low at the picking/packing station.) Will robots ever completely replace humans who drive forklifts? While we’d like to see a John Henry vs. The Machine style competition, the fact is that robotic forklifts are already around and in operation.

 

What About Your Warehouse?

While many small robots rolling around might not be right for every warehouse, robotic forklifts could benefit most of them. As long as a warehouse is set up with the proper sensors, barcodes, and RFID chips, a robotic forklift could easily be sent off to grab anything in the building.

 

What Are The Problems?

It’s not the end of the world if a small robot crashes into a guardrail, or if a drone drops a $20 items. But if an automated forklift goes nuts, watch out! Being driverless isn’t going to reduce the weight that much, and a robot forklift will still need to be nearly 10,000 pounds in order to lift heavy items from pallet racks. If a sensor gets misaligned, it could cause a serious industrial shelving collapse. But if humans are kept away from robot forklifts, as they should be, at least people won’t be around this dangerous situation.

 

Drones

Drones, sometimes called unmanned aerial vehicles, are essentially flying robots. But there are a few major differences to highlight. First of all, drones can get above pallets so that they can see down into boxes with open tops. Optical sensors can be utilized to identify and count items, immediately returning that information to the warehouse computers. This can help a warehouse determine inventory levels much faster.

Drones can also use their scanner to identify the barcodes on pallet racks or the pallets themselves from a greater distance, allowing them to find a particular location faster. And if the drone is powerful enough, it can bring an item down from a top shelf much faster than a person can go get a forklift, lower the pallet, find the item, replace the pallet, and return the forklift to its parking spot. There’s also less a chance of the pallet rack getting hit by the forks or the pallet being returned misaligned.

 

What About Your Warehouse?

If you use robots in your warehouse, it’s likely that you’ll find a use for drones as well. Again, the primary decider for many warehouses is inventory turnover.

 

What Are The Problems?

The biggest restriction with drones is the amount of weight they are able to carry. In general, drones can’t carry more than a few pounds, though the amount they can carry is getting better all the time. Like robots, a drone that is damaged is going to be out of commission until a professional can take a look at it.

Another problem: danger. If you think it’s bad getting hit in the ankle by a robot on the ground, imagine getting hit with a drone propeller at eye level! Drone/human interaction is an even bigger problem than the average robot/human interaction. Sure, drones make the telltale droning sound when they’re nearby, but when there are multiple drones in a warehouse humans tend to tune it out.

 

How Close Are You?

We certainly don’t expect every warehouse to be completely automated anytime soon, but big retailers are certainly leading the way with all three of the robots we’ve been discussing. Interestingly, the robots being created today might determine which kind of pallet racking system you look at in the next few years. Contact the experts at DAK Equipment and Engineering to find out more about the future of warehouses!

 

 

 

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November 01, 2018

4 Reasons To Move Pallet Racks

When the average person walks into a warehouse and sees pallet racks, they often think that there’s no way those things could move. To most people, pallet rack systems are like a furnace, in that they’re a part of the house. But if you’ve ever dealt with industrial pallet racks, you know that they’re really more like a refrigerator: difficult to move, yes, but meant to be moved if necessary.

Pallet racks are moveable, but that brings up a good question: why would you? While they’re certainly sturdy, all pallets racks are designed to come down if necessary. Let’s take a look at a few of the reason why they might need to be moved.

 

A More Efficient Design

Warehouse layout optimization can dramatically increase the amount of inventory a warehouse can hold. But many industrial shelves are put in too haphazardly and without the help of a warehouse layout expert.

If you want to make the most of every square foot of your warehouse, we can redesign the layout to make use of your current space. You might be surprised how moving your pallet racks can give you more space so that you can have even more pallet racks installed.

 

Replacement

There are many reasons to replace pallet racking (see out blog “5 Reasons You Might Need To Replace Your Pallet Racking” right here. Sometimes it’s due to damage or wear, but other times pallet racks are replaced even though they’re still very usable. A company’s sales strategy might pivot and need a different type of rack, such as if they start selling to the public and need an industrial conveyor system installed. Other times a warehouse might change their material handling systems and forklifts and be able to get new pallet racks that are much taller than the previous ones.

What happens to the old racks? There a good market for them, and we can sell them here.

New Floor

Many old warehouses have the simplest of concrete floors. But after a while, that simplicity can start to cause problems. Floors cracked, stain, and sometimes even let moisture in. They can also be much more slick than new types of flooring and could lead to employee injury. Be sure to read this blog for seven reasons a warehouse might get floor sealants applied.

If a new floor is being installed in the warehouse — even if it’s a simple epoxy coating — the pallet racking will have to be removed, or, at the very least, temporarily moved.

 

Cleaning

We admit it, there aren’t many times when cleaning a warehouse is going to necessitate the removal of an entire pallet rack system. Most racks have space so that they can be cleaned out underneath, especially if the lowest wire decking is removable. But it can be done, and might be done if a warehouse is about to be sold.

 

Do You Need Pallets Moved?

Having pallets moved can actually be a very good thing. When they’re moved, you can have them reassembled and inspected at the same time, ensuring that they’re safe and not about to collapse. Check out our racking inspection services right here!

 

 

 

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