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6 Considerations When Selecting a Carton Flow System

UNEX carton flow system in a fulfillment center

Learn what to look for when selecting a carton flow system for your facility.

Carton flow systems speed order picking operations in fulfillment centers by storing items in an easily replenished FIFO (First-In-First-Out system). When purchasing a carton flow system, it is important to know what you will be using the system for, what you will store on it, the weight of the items, and more. Here are 6 things to consider when selecting a carton flow system:

1. SKU Analysis – Knowing as much as you can about the SKUs you are storing currently is the first thing to consider when selecting a carton flow system. It is essential to know how many and what types of SKUs you expect your carton flow system to handle. Arming yourself with comprehensive SKU data prior to any change in warehouse storage mediums will determine many key factors, like the number of carton flow shelves and the style of carton flow tracks you will need.

2. Size, Weight, and Width of Items – Are your SKUs stored in boxes, totes, or nothing at all (like a beer keg, for example)? Are the items or boxes of varying size, height, and weight? Answers to these questions will determine the configuration of the carton flow shelving and what type of carton flow you will need.

Carton flow tracks come in a variety of flow options like steel or aluminum roller lanes, plastic wheel beds, skatewheels, and more. If the items you are storing are the same width, SpanTrack Lane carton flow rollers will be your most efficient and cost-effective option. If the items you are storing vary in width or you have a need for frequent reslotting, SpanTrak Wheel Bed, commonly known as carton flow beds, will provide maximum efficiency and flexibility.

3. SKU Velocity – Do you carry seasonal products? Do you have products that spike in demand due to a promotion or change in consumer taste? If you answered "yes" to either of these questions, you will need a carton flow system that is flexible and easy to expand. UNEX offers a variety of flexible, modular options for carton flow:



SpanTrack: SpanTrack is the original carton flow track. UNEX carton flow tracks easily drop into existing pallet rack to create a total carton flow system that offers FIFO stock rotation and unrivaled flow. SpanTrack comes in a variety of styles and capacities, so depending on the unique needs of your operation, there's a carton flow solution for you!




FlowCell: FlowCell is UNEX's modular flow rack system. FlowCell structures can easily be added throughout operations to stand up carton flow systems whenever and wherever they may be required. FlowCell is especially useful in order fulfillment assembly lines, and in areas of warehouses where overhead clearance is a concern.


Take HelloFresh for example; this operation uses FlowCell flow racks with straight and knuckled SpanTrack carton flow rollers, and gravity conveyors, paired with a pick-to-light system for assembling meal kits. 

UNEX - Hello Fresh Case Study - Pick to Light

Download The Hello Fresh Case Study



Roller Rack: UNEX Roller Racks are standalone carton flow racks. If you don't have existing pallet rack in your facility, or if you're looking to add standalone carton flow systems in key places throughout your operation, Roller Rack is the answer. Roller Rack offers a pre-configured, easy-to-assemble rack structure that can be outfitted with any type of SpanTrack carton flow to suit your needs.

4. Stock Separation – Do you plan on storing your products by SKUs, customers, product categories, or another division? Keeping stock orderly and sorted by SKUs (or whatever method you choose) ensures that when workers are picking an order, they can quickly find the item on the shelf. With a carton flow system like SpanTrack, you can easily add labels for barcode scanning systems. And as mentioned previously, SpanTrack also pairs well with order picking systems like pick-to-light. Whatever order picking system or methods you use, keeping stock orderly will ensure SKUs can easily be located and picked.

5. SKU Replenishment – Do you need to replenish SKUs from the rear as pick operations continue in the front of your racks? In general, carton flow systems make restocking a breeze because order pickers can continue operating in the front of your racks, while workers continuously restock from behind. Whether you require carton flow rollers or wheel beds, there are a number of parts and accessories that can make SKU replenishment even easier. Infeed guides, guard rails, and guide rails keep boxes and products in place as they are fed from the back of the rack and flowed to the picking facing in front.spantrack-infeed-guides

6. Select Capacity and End Styles - Carton flow systems are offered in light, standard, and heavy-duty track capacities. The capacity of your track will depend on a number of factors like the weights and dimensions of your SKUs, the type of racking you will be using, and whether the tracks will rest in between pallet rack beams or on top of them (to name a few). When designing your carton flow system, it's important to know your existing rack dimensions and rack manufacturer. This will help start the process of determining which capacities and end styles you may need for your carton flow system.

Do you need angled shelves for each picking or straight shelves for case picking? Knowing this information will determine the configuration of your carton flow system's end style. Carton flow tracks can receive a knuckled end treatment that will tilt boxes or items at an angle for easy each picks. Pick trays can also be added to the ends of carton flow tracks to accomplish the same thing. If your order picking operation has no need for tilted tracks or trays, straight carton flow rollers or wheel beds will do the trick, but it's important to consider all of this when determining what carton flow system will work best for your operation.


Design Your Carton Flow System with UNEX

If you need a carton flow system that maximizes product flexibility and flow, is easy to install, has a variety of capacity options, maximizes space, and reduces picker travel time, look no further than UNEX SpanTrack. The Space Optimization Experts at UNEX can help you design the right carton flow system that will speed your fulfillment operation. Contact us today!

Try Our Free Carton Flow System Design Tool!

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