A Comprehensive Guide to Different Warehouse Storage Types
Choosing from the different warehouse storage types and the types of warehouse storage racks is key when it comes to optimizing your warehouse operations. With a myriad of options available, it can be overwhelming to determine which warehouse storage types are best suited for your business. That’s why we’ve created this comprehensive guide to help you make an informed decision.
In this article, we will explore different warehouse storage types, including pallet racking systems, shelving units, mezzanine floors, and automated storage and retrieval systems. We will delve into the advantages and disadvantages of each option, highlighting their unique features and ideal use cases. Whether you’re looking to maximize storage capacity, improve accessibility, or enhance order picking efficiency, we’ll provide insights on the storage solution that best aligns with your operational needs.
At Conveyco, we understand the importance of optimizing your warehouse space to meet your business goals. That’s why our team of experts has curated this guide to help you navigate the world of warehouse storage systems. Get ready to take your warehousing operations to the next level with the right storage solution tailored to your specific requirements.
Factors To Consider When Choosing Warehouse Storage Types
Before diving into the different types of warehouse storage options, it’s important to consider several factors that will influence your decision. These factors include:
- Space availability: Assess the available space in your warehouse to determine the type and quantity of storage systems that can be installed. Consider the layout, ceiling height, floor load issues and conditions, and any obstructions that may impact the installation of certain storage solutions.
- SKU and inventory characteristics: Take into account the size, weight, environmental requirements (frozen, cool, humid, nitrogen content, and temperature) and fragility of your products. Some storage solutions may be better suited for pallet storage and bulky items, while others may be more suitable for small, lightweight products. Consider the load capacity of each storage system to ensure it can handle your products.
- Accessibility requirements: Evaluate how frequently you need to access your products. If you require quick and easy access to a wide range of products, a shelving system or an automated storage and retrieval system may be the best option. On the other hand, if you have products that are rarely accessed, bulk storage options may be more suitable.
- Order picking efficiency: Determine the level of order picking efficiency you aim to achieve. If speed is crucial, consider systems that allow for fast and accurate order picking, such as case flow systems or automated storage and retrieval systems. If accuracy is more important, systems that provide clear visibility and organization, like shelving systems, may be ideal.
- Labor levels: Understand your desired labor outcome. If you are looking to decrease labor by up to 2/3 then a form of automation such as AS/RS or autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) would be logical technologies to investigate. If you are looking to use existing labor, but increase productivity and throughput levels an analysis of your current state should be done to identify imperfect processes and procedures and then evaluate these fixes. Next step is review potential equipment or software fixes.
- Budget: Consider your budgetary constraints when investigating storage solutions. While some systems may offer advanced features and automation, they may come at a higher cost. Evaluate the return on investment (ROI), long-term benefits and cost of ownership of each option before making a decision. To help determine your budget a very fast way to evaluate is to see how much labor you currently have doing a process you are thinking about automating. Then based on the level of automation, use the reduced EFTs (Employee Full time) you can save and multiply it by the acceptable years your organization considers acceptable. The number of years will often run between one to five years determined by financial goals and strategic benefits of the project.Example: You currently have 100 FTEs doing order picking and replenishment. The AMR system you are thinking about can have a 2/3 reduction in labor (best case scenario). That saves me 66 FTEs and lets say they were receiving fully burdened salaries @ $40,000 each. This tells me I can save $2,640,000 annually. If the organization accepts a three year ROI. On labor alone, My replacement AMR system can cost me $7,920,000. This is on labor ONLY. There are many other factors that go into a ROI analysis besides labor savings including space savings, savings of eliminating mis-picks and chargebacks, customer retention, lower shipping costs, and opportunity value. Opportunity value is always a huge wildcard. If you save 40% of your applications floor space, what activities will this new space generate in revenue? This can be new line of inventory, kitting operations, manufacturing new items, not having to expand or move, etc. this takes some strategic planning, but you get the idea.
Just add up these and other savings such as fewer human resources activity and recruiting fees for an annual savings and multiply by the number of years you have to hit your ROI target.
Understanding your ROI and budget can eliminate days, weeks and months of wasted planning and put you on target much faster. Determining some of these numbers often takes a level of expertise which you can find at your valued systems integrator, such as Conveyco. By carefully considering these factors, you can narrow down your options and choose the warehouse storage solution that best suits your operational needs.
Case Flow and Carton Flow Systems
Case flow and carton flow systems are designed to improve order picking efficiency by providing a constant flow of products to the picker. These systems use gravity to move products from the back of the rack to the front, ensuring that the oldest products are always picked first (FIFO). These systems are ideal for inventory which is stored in corrugated cartons or totes. Case flow systems are ideal for warehouses with high-volume order picking operations, as they allow for quick and easy access to products.
One of the key advantages of case flow and carton flow systems is their ability to increase order picking accuracy. By organizing products in a systematic manner, these systems help reduce errors and improve productivity. Additionally, they are highly adaptable and can be easily integrated with other picking solutions, such as pick to light technology, voice picking, or augmented vision. However, it’s important to note that case flow and carton flow systems may not be suitable for all types of products, especially those that are fragile, require special handling, are not in cases or too small or large for the case flow rack system.
Types of Warehouse Storage Racks: Pallet Racking Systems
Pallet racking systems are one of the most common and versatile warehouse storage solutions and types of warehouse storage racks available. These systems are designed to store palletized products in a vertical manner, maximizing the use of vertical space. Pallet racking systems come in various configurations and types of warehouse storage racks, include selective pallet racks, drive-in racks, and push-back racks, each offering unique benefits. Bulk storage options are suitable for warehouses that handle large quantities of products that don’t require individual picking. These types of warehouse storage racks are designed to store products in bulk, maximizing storage capacity and minimizing handling time.
Selective pallet racks are the most common type of pallet racking system, allowing for easy access to each pallet. This system is ideal for warehouses with a wide range of SKUs and frequent product turnover. Drive-in racks, on the other hand, maximize storage capacity by allowing forklifts to drive into the racks and store pallets in a last-in, first-out (LIFO) manner. This system is suitable for products with a limited shelf life or those that are stored in large quantities. Push-back racks offer a combination of selectivity and storage density, allowing for multiple pallets to be stored in a single lane. Pallet flow racks use gravity to move pallets from the back of the rack to the front, ensuring efficient product rotation.
Pallet racking systems offer several advantages, including high storage capacity, easy accessibility, and adaptability to different product sizes. However, it’s important to consider the load capacity and safety requirements of each system to ensure the safety of your warehouse personnel and products.
To achieve higher levels of throughput, environmentally controlled storage, reduced labor and required forklifts (and labor) the Pallet Shuttle AS/RS should be considered (read more below). Likewise, you can easily convert ground level rack locations into each picking by deploying a high density industrial fabric hanging shelves and bins. This type of system is easy to deploy and provides shelf levels or pockets for individual SKU positions which operators can pick like they do on shelving.
Wire Decking and Accessories
Wire decking is a popular accessory used in conjunction with pallet racking systems to enhance safety and efficiency. Wire decking provides a stable surface for pallets to sit on, preventing them from falling through the rack. It also allows for better visibility and airflow, reducing the risk of fire and improving inventory management.
Wire decking comes in different configurations, including waterfall, flush, and step. Waterfall decking has a lip that hangs over the front and back beams of the rack, providing additional support and preventing pallets from slipping off. Flush decking sits flush with the beams, maximizing storage capacity and allowing for easy loading and unloading of pallets. Step decking features a step-like design, allowing for easy access to products stored on the lower levels.
In addition to wire decking, there are various accessories available to enhance the functionality and safety of your warehouse storage systems. These accessories include pallet supports, column protectors, and aisle guards. Pallet supports provide additional support for pallets and prevent them from sagging. Column protectors protect the uprights of the racks from damage caused by forklift collisions. Aisle guards create a physical barrier between the racks and the aisle, preventing accidental collisions and improving safety.
Shelving systems are a popular choice for warehouses that require quick and easy access to a wide range of products. These systems are versatile and can accommodate products of various sizes and weights. Shelving systems come in different configurations, including boltless shelving, steel shelving, and wire shelving.
Boltless shelving is easy to assemble and adjust, making it a flexible option for warehouses with changing storage needs. Steel shelving is durable and heavy-duty, suitable for storing bulky and heavy items. Wire shelving offers excellent visibility and airflow, making it ideal for storing perishable goods or products that require ventilation.
Shelving systems provide clear visibility and organization, allowing for efficient inventory management and order picking. They are also highly adaptable and can be easily reconfigured to accommodate changing storage needs. However, it’s important to consider the load capacity and stability of each shelving system to prevent accidents and product damage.
Shelving systems can also be flooded with order pickers and replenishers when necessary to meet peak requirements. Depending on the number of laborer’s required, you need to pay special attention as to how you layout the shelving system and the slotting and logic used in where you are storing SKUs/inventory on specific racks and shelves.
Mobile Shelving Systems
Mobile shelving systems are designed to maximize storage capacity by eliminating wasted aisle space. These systems consist of shelves mounted on carriages that can be moved laterally, allowing access to a single aisle at a time. Mobile shelving systems are ideal for warehouses with limited space or those looking to increase storage capacity without expanding the facility.
One of the key advantages of mobile shelving systems is their ability to provide high-density storage while maintaining accessibility to each shelf. These systems are particularly useful for storing items that are not frequently accessed but still require easy retrieval. Additionally, mobile shelving systems offer improved security, as the aisles can be locked to prevent unauthorized access.
Mobile shelving systems require a level floor and adequate space for the movement of carriages. It’s important to consider the weight and size of your products, as well as the load capacity of each system, to ensure safe and efficient operation. Mobile shelving systems are available in shelf and pallet rack models depending on your application. These systems can double your storage capacity, but limit your accessibility and throughput. So proper slotting and SKU allocation is vital for this technology to be properly deployed.
Mezzanine systems are an excellent solution for warehouses looking to maximize vertical space without expanding the facility. These systems consist of an elevated platform that creates additional levels within the warehouse. Mezzanine systems can be used for various purposes, including storage, offices, picking, packing, and production areas.
One of the key advantages of mezzanine systems is their ability to increase storage capacity without the need for additional floor space. By utilizing the vertical space, warehouses can optimize their operations and accommodate growing inventory. Mezzanine systems are highly customizable and can be tailored to specific requirements, including load capacity, flooring material, and access points. Utilizing lifts or elevators or spiral conveyors make inventory accessible and flowing at all times.
It’s important to consider the structural integrity of your facility when installing a mezzanine system. Ensure that the building can support the additional weight and that the installation complies with local building codes and regulations. Once again, your local systems integrator, like Conveyco, can aid in the technical questions and vendor selection.
Automated Storage and Retrieval Systems (AS/RS) or Goods to Person (G2P)
Automated storage and retrieval systems (AS/RS) or Goods to Person (G2P) systems are revolutionizing the warehousing industry by offering advanced automation and improved efficiency. These systems use computer-controlled mechanisms and robots to automatically store and retrieve products. By presenting each SKU to the picker in their workstation (Goods to Person) you are eliminating operators wasted walk and search time. Walk and search time often translates into miles of walking per day and per operator consuming up to 75% of their time.
AS/RS systems come in various configurations, to handle piece, case, or pallet picking, sortation, sequencing or buffering. AMRs, unit load AS/RS or Pallet Shuttles are designed for handling large, heavy loads, such as pallets, while AMR models such as the Stacker-Bot and Go-Fer Bot plus mini-load and carousel AS/RS are suitable for small item/each picking, tote and carton handling. These systems can be integrated with other warehouse management systems to provide seamless inventory management and order fulfillment.
Different warehouse storage types and applications of AS/RS Goods to Person systems:
- Mini-Load: small parts and pieces high density storage and retrieval
- Shuttle VLM: storage systems using vertical columns of trays and pick window
- Vertical Sequencing Modules: Totes of inventory are stored in vertical columns and presented to a pick window, workstation or AMR in the proper pick sequence
- Shuttle: cases and item high density storage and retrieval
- Go-Fer Bot: goods to person high density storage and retrieval
- Stacker-Bot Shuttle: High density tote storage and retrieval system
- Exotec: goods to person high density tote storage and retrieval
- Mid-Load: pallets and specialized pallet high density storage and retrieval
- Unit-Load: pallet handling and high bay storage
- Pallet Shuttle: High throughput and density handling of palletized goods
One of the key advantages of AS/RS systems is their ability to maximize storage capacity by utilizing the vertical space of the warehouse. These systems offer high-density storage and efficient order picking, reducing labor costs and improving accuracy. AS/RS systems also provide a higher level of security, as access to the products is restricted to authorized personnel.
However, it’s important to consider the initial investment and ongoing maintenance costs associated with AS/RS systems. Please revert back to our discussion on budget and creating an ROI. It is critical to determine your RightFIT and by using a seven step methodology to determine if you need automation, how much and exactly what type best fits your application and business.
Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs)
Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs) are another form of advanced automation that is transforming the warehousing industry. These robots are designed to navigate through the warehouse and perform various tasks, such as picking, storing, sorting, and transporting products. The range and styles of AMRs allow them to handle all forms of inventory from small individual pieces, hanging goods, cases, and event palletized goods. AMRs are equipped with sensors and cameras to navigate safely and efficiently in a dynamic warehouse environment.
One of the key advantages of AMRs is their flexibility and adaptability. These robots can be easily deployed and reconfigured to accommodate changing operational needs. They can work alongside warehouse personnel, assisting with order picking and reducing manual labor. AMRs can also improve productivity and accuracy by reducing human errors and streamlining the picking process.
AMR and warehouse storage types and applications:
- Go-Fer Bot: goods to person high density storage
- Stacker-Bot Shuttle: High density tote storage and retrieval system
- Hi-Tilt Sorter: case and item sortation
- Tilt Sort Sorter: case and item table top sortation
- Transportation Bot: Moving of eaches, cases, totes and palletized goods to workstations and areas
- Exotec: goods to person high density tote storage and retrieval
AMRs require a well-designed warehouse layout and infrastructure to ensure smooth navigation and operation. It’s important to consider the compatibility of your existing systems and the integration capabilities of the AMRs before implementing them in your warehouse.
Importance of choosing the RightFIT warehouse storage types for your operations
Choosing the right warehouse storage type is crucial for optimizing your operations and achieving your business goals. The right storage solution can help maximize storage capacity, improve accessibility, and enhance order picking efficiency. By considering factors such as space availability, product characteristics, accessibility requirements, order picking efficiency, and budget, you can make an informed decision that aligns with your operational needs.
At Conveyco, we specialize in warehouse optimization and can help you choose the right storage solution for your operations. Our team of experts will assess your requirements and provide tailored recommendations that will take your warehousing operations to the next level. Don’t settle for subpar storage solutions – invest in the right system that will enhance your productivity and efficiency. Contact us today to get started on transforming your warehouse space.
Are you interested in learning more about improving warehouse efficiency for your organization? Contact us now to schedule a consultation with a trusted Conveyco representative! Don’t wait to learn more about how automation can boost your facility’s performance.