Are you running out of space to store pallets? Do you have peak times when you simply don’t have a place to put all your skids? If so, consider these options:
- Think three-dimensional
Stacked pallets on the floor provide some of the densest storage available in a distribution center. To achieve the best density, however, pallets must be stacked so that they take advantage of ceiling height. If you can, stack your pallets multiple levels high. Granted, not all pallets are stackable, because of box integrity, for instance, or loads that are not flat on top. A way around this is to use a stacking frame, a portable storage unit that can quickly be set up on any floor area so that you can stack pallets right up to your available ceiling height. The structure provides both sides and a top support “shelf” so that additional frames can be stacked one atop the other. Stacking frames can store flat and be assembled only when needed. They can even be stored outside when not in use.
- Narrow your truck aisles
Many warehouses have aisles that are 12 or 13 feet wide to permit access of locations by a traditional counterbalanced fork truck. You can cut the space taken up by aisles by 25%-30%, and create room for more rack runs with no loss of pallet-handling efficiency if you convert from a traditional site-down truck to a narrow-aisle reach truck. These trucks use outriggers in front, rather than a weight in the back, to balance the pallet load. As a result they are shorter and can turn within an 8-ft.-wide aisle with a 48-in. × 40-in. pallet.
- Consider double-deep pallet racks
If you need still more room and you have a number of SKUs with an on-hand pallet quantity of five or more, consider “doubling up” your selective racks. Instead of having just two racks back to back, configure two sets of two racks. A special vehicle called a double-deep reach truck can reach to the inner pallet location, permitting you to store pallets two deep everywhere. These trucks can turn within a 9-ft.-wide or so aisle.
Sam Flanders is president of Durham, NH-based operations consultancy Warehouse Management Consultants.