Carton Flow 101: The Advantages of a Gravity Flow Rack

UNEX Carton Flow Racks

Why Carton Flow Storage Solutions?

When it comes with warehouse storage, space optimization solutions like carton flow rack systems help manufacturers, distributors, and retailers accelerate case and order picking processes. But before we get into the benefits of carton flow systems, understanding the difference between static and dynamic storage solutions can help operations choose the right product for their space.

Static Storage at Distribution CenterStatic Carton Flow Storage Solutions

Static storage is often traditional pallet racks and shelves for holding products in storage. They are designed to hold materials on pallets in horizontal rows on multiple levels.

Static Carton Flow Storage Benefits

Static storage solutions are relatively inexpensive, which is why they are popular, yet the labor to stock and pick from the shelves is more extensive, requiring more time from workers. Forklift trucks are often used alongside this type of storage to place the loaded pallets onto the storage racks.

Besides the low cost, static racks can be configured to reach from floor to ceiling, using a variety of shelving, from wire shelves to wood. With adjustable shelving, you can reconfigure, dismantle and reuse the shelving elsewhere.

Learn More: Solutions Spotlight: Pick Shelving

Static Storage Challenges

However, static storage can create several points of pain in an order picking operation. Because product does not flow forward to the point of pick, workers must spend extra time and energy retrieving product from the back of the rack or store the same product at several pick facings. This creates a product footprint that is vastly oversized, wasting space in static racks and contributing to what we like to call "storage sprawl."

Storage sprawl negatively affects the efficiency of order pickers. Statistics show that workers waste 85 percent of their time walking and searching for products within warehouses using static storage methods. If there is a static storage area in your warehouse, are workers wasting steps looking for items to pick?

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Dynamic Carton Flow Storage Solutions

Carton flow: UNEX 8ft Roller Rack with Span-Track Knuckle BedDynamic storage or forward pick uses gravity flow racks, like Roller Rack, which are characterized by their gravity feed rear-load design. Merchandise is stocked in the rear and moves forward toward the picking area in front on an inclined shelf equipped with roller tracks, like SpanTrack Lane or SpanTrack Wheel Bed.

Carton Flow Rack System Benefits

In today’s e-commerce environment, distributors are less likely to be handling full pallets; instead inventory is moved to the pick area in individual cartons, where pickers pull items to fulfill the more typical smaller, multi-SKU order.

In this type of application, using carton flow racks can increase operational efficiency by as much as 75%, often immediately.

UNEX Carton Flow Solutions - Pallet Track Spit PickWhen a carton is moved from the front of the rack, the next carton slides forward in its place. Items are always and easily in reach of pickers and do not require multiple pick facings, drastically reducing "storage sprawl." Inventory is easy to monitor, as products are fully visible. Because items are picked from the front and stocked from the rear, restocking and picking can be performed with minimal travel and greater efficiency.

With carton flow rack systems, labor savings of up to 75% can be realized as stocking speed is often doubled or tripled. These systems also take up less floor space because fewer aisles are needed to reach the same amount of products. Carton flow racks present a larger number of SKUs to the picker in a smaller area, improving efficiencies.

Gravity Flow Rack Challenges

On the downside, many gravity flow racks do not offer the opportunity to store pallets above the rack. However, UNEX engineers designed, Pallet Track, for pallet picking and partial pallet picking  to alleviate the need for a pallet position above a gravity flow rack.

UNEX Carton Flow Solutions

Depending on what you need in your warehouse, UNEX will learn your requirements and suggest the best storage system for your needs and budget.

If you'd like to discover an optimal storage method for your facility, start by designing a custom solution with our Span-Track Configurator.
Build a Storage Solution in Minutes with UNEX SpanTrack Configurator
Posted by: UNEX