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Advantages of Light-Duty Carton Flow for Order Fulfillment

UNEX SpanTrack S9 Light-Duty Carton Flow

By selecting the right step beam and carton flow combination, you can see a 25% increase in storage space - all within your existing warehouse or fulfillment center.

Even the most efficient modern warehouses struggle to keep up with demand in "the age of Amazon." Most warehouse managers are constantly fighting for every extra cubic inch of space. Warehouse storage and order fulfillment centers are no strangers to this game, searching for space within pallet racks, aisle spacing, sprinkler clearance, dock door locations, emergency exits, and the list goes on. 

More than likely, you have seen the very short step beams used on pallet racks in big box hardware stores like Lowes and Home Depot. The use of these shorter step beams allows these retailers to create more vertical space. If you're searching for ways to create more space and still come up empty, you may want to consider a light-duty carton flow solution that can easily drop into this short (2.5" tall) step beam profile. This could mean getting 5 levels instead of 4, or ensuring that all 4 levels of your carton flow racks are ergonomically designed for extremely efficient order picking. In this article, we are going to tackle the most common questions being asked when considering a solution like light-duty carton flow to get that extra space you're looking for.

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Is Light-Duty Carton Flow Right for My Operation?

A light-duty carton flow solution is ideal for fulfillment centers with lighter, smaller products. Examples include but are certainly not limited to, Health and Beauty Aids or Health and Beauty Care (HBA or HBC), Pharmaceuticals, and some Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) companies. If you're experiencing inefficient space utilization in carton flow racks due to improperly sized structures, light-duty carton flow may be the answer.

Knowing When to Consider a Light-Duty Carton Flow Solution

There are several scenarios where light-duty carton flow should be considered, and it's never too late to explore this option! 

  • When you're not using the right size step beams
    When pallet rack step beams are oversized for the capacity requirements of the SKUs being stored, it's time to explore light-duty carton flow. It may seem like a big undertaking, and you may be cautious of the costs to make the switch. But chances are, you're wasting time and money if you're working with a warehouse storage solution that doesn't jive with what you're storing. Right-sizing storage is paramount if you want to stay competitive in the order fulfillment realm.

  • When reusing old beams that aren't right for your operation
    Often, existing beams from former pallet positions may be reused to save on budget. However, this isn't always the best way to cut costs. Implementing shorter step beams and a light-duty carton flow track can increase your storage space by 25%. More storage space means you're able to increase SKU positions and experience more efficient order picking. In the long run, this can result in much more significant cost savings, and most operations see a rapid ROI.

  • When installing new beams in a fulfillment operation
    This is the absolute perfect time to consider shorter step beams and light-duty carton flow! When you're working on specifications for new beams, you should be considering the type of carton flow you need. A vast majority of the time, beams are spec'd to match pallet loads for convenience and adjustability. Standard duty carton flow may be the go-to choice, but you may be missing out on critical space savings. While there are no inherent problems with over-specing carton flow, a facility may be trading track weight capacity for warehouse storage capacity. So unless you truly need the higher capacity, it makes more sense to choose a lighter-duty solution. 

UNEX Space Wizard Pro Tip Light-Duty Carton Flow


Where to Use Light-Duty Carton Flow

There is a sweet spot that offers a 25% increase in storage density over typical systems for inventory of a specific size and weight range.

Systems are typically 96" wide and 96" deep with four pick shelves or levels. However, if the product height is less than 13", and the average weight per square foot is less than 25 lbs, then a pair of 2.5" tall step beams can be used. This will yield a 1,700 capacity and provide an additional level of carton flow per bay.

UNEX SpanTrack Low Profile Drawing

Choosing the Right Step Beam + Carton Flow Combo

UNEX has the solution.

If you've ever been caught in this predicament, you are not alone. As previously mentioned, the 'default' carton flow and step beam combination often look like this: Standard duty carton flow with 2.5" tall step beams. 

At 2.5" tall themselves, the carton flow tracks sit lower in the hanger in order to create a package stop. When this happens, the bottom edge of the track sits lower than the beam, creating a potential cut point for the order picker.

By optimizing the use of 2.5" tall beams with a hangerless end style track like UNEX's proprietary notched S9 track, we can create a five-level carton flow system where, traditionally, you would only get four levels. 

UNEX SpanTrack Hangerless Low Profile Carton Flow Track

This is a much safer option, as the adjustable length track sits on the ledge of the step beam in the front and rear, keeping the face of the beams clear.

UNEX SpanTrack Carton Flow Solution

SpanTrack is UNEX's innovative carton flow solution that drops into existing structures to create a robust flow system for any operation. Our full-width roller lanes and universal wheel beds are engineered to order to create the ultimate order picking environment.

Ideal for order fulfillment operations and a variety of applications. SpanTrack is widely used in full case picking operations to create FIFO storage lanes. Split case picking operations leverage SpanTrack lanes with adjustable pick trays to present open cases to order pickers and eliminate interference with the levels above.

SpanTrack Dedicated Lane and Universal Wheel Bed Features
  • Drop-in design for easy installation
  • Freezer/cooler rated to below zero
  • Light, standard, and heavy-duty capacity choices
  • Knuckled end treatment for improved ergonomic each picks
  • Customizable end treatments that attach easily to any pallet rack setup
  • Interior notching saves vertical space
  • Available in to-the-inch increments
  • 7-year warranty



Download the UNEX SpanTrack BrochureExplore our full SpanTrack product brochure. (Click image on the left.)

Learn more about end style options, selecting the correct track width, various flow options.

Discover parts and accessories like impact plates, slow down strips, guard rail, infeed guides, swing stops, label holders, and more.


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