Pallet flow racking
High-density, space-maximising storage solution for pallets in which loads move by gravity.
Pallet flow racking system: agile operations and perfect FIFO turnover
Pallet flow racking consists of high-density storage structures formed by slightly sloped channels with rollers that enable pallets to slide into place. Palletised loads are inserted in the highest part of the channel and move by gravity to the opposite end, where they are ready to be removed.
There are no intermediate aisles in a flow rack system, which increases storage capacity. In addition, the flow through racking can work in line with the FIFO (first in, first out) strategy, facilitating efficient inventory management.
Advantages of pallet flow racking
- Maximum utilisation of surface area: pallet flow racking is a high-density storage solution that significantly increases a warehouse’s capacity.
- Flawless product turnover: its compatibility with the FIFO method fosters excellent inventory control.
- Time savings: having all SKUs available in a single working aisle makes it easy to locate any product, reducing forklift manoeuvring time and speeding up pallet removal.
- Separation of loading and unloading: pallet storage and retrieval are performed from separate aisles. This eliminates interference and enables forklifts to work without interruptions.
- Multiple SKUs: although each channel houses a single SKU, these can vary between the different channels.
- Better energy consumption: implementation of this system in facilities run at low temperatures reduces energy consumption since the volume to be cooled is smaller.
- Safety and reliability: the different elements that make up Mecalux’s pallet flow racks are designed to ensure risk-free operation for operators and goods.
With the pallet flow rack, we’ve shortened the time it takes to insert and remove pallets from the racks by 50%
Pallet flow racking system applications
Ideal solution for multiple industry and distribution sectors
Pallet flow rack systems are perfect for companies that need to make the most of their available storage space and streamline goods handling operations for efficient, error-free inventory turnover.
Large-scale storage of high-turnover SKUs
The pallet flow rack is ideal for housing many unit loads per SKU
Storage of perishable products
It facilitates the management of stock with expiry dates in sectors such as the food and pharmaceutical industries.
Interim warehousing between two working zones
This racking can connect two working areas, generally production and dispatch.
It speeds up the flow of goods in temporary storage areas, i.e., of picked orders.
This high-density system helps to reduce energy consumption in refrigerated warehouses.
How does a pallet flow racking system work?
Perfect stock control with minimal movements
Gravity flow racks are characterised by their extremely simple operation. Their structural configuration fosters remarkably agile management that shortens manoeuvring times and reduces the distances travelled by forklifts. The result? Fast storage and retrieval operations.
The forklift places the pallet at the channel entrance on the higher side of the racking. The pallet is usually inserted with its deckboards perpendicular to the rollers.
The pallet moves inside the channel by gravity, sliding autonomously over the rollers until reaching the end (a retainer or the previously stored pallet).
The forklift picks up the pallets in the unloading aisle on the other side of the racking. When the first pallet is removed, the remaining pallets in the channel move forward one position.
Live pallet racking with 141 storage channels to manage more than 1,000 tonnes of rice
Dasca is internationally renowned as one of the most important food conglomerates which manufactures and supplies a wide range of corn and rice based products. They have entrusted Mecalux with the installation of live racking with rollers in their central warehouse in Spain. Read more
Tostados y Fritos, SA
Tosfrit stores more snacks
The Spanish snack manufacturer Tosfrit has expanded the capacity of its warehouse thanks to the Live Pallet Racking (FIFO) of Mecalux. Read more
EcoWipes: automated logistics, 30% jump in productivity
Cosmetic and hygiene product manufacturer EcoWipes has connected its warehouse in Poland with its production lines automatically via conveyors. It has also installed live pallet racking with a stacker crane and Movirack mobile pallet racking to optimise its storage space. Read more
Pallet flow racking configurations
Highly versatile storage solution adaptable to diverse needs
Gravity racking systems can be configured in several ways. This depends on the required goods management method and the type of operations to be performed, e.g., order picking from the racks themselves.
With 2 working aisles (FIFO method)
This is the traditional configuration. The pallet is loaded on the rollers in the input aisle and slides by gravity to the output side, where the unloading aisle is located. Thus, the first pallet in is the first out.
With a single working aisle (LIFO method)
Equivalent to a push-back pallet racking system. The goods are loaded and unloaded from the same aisle. The first pallet is placed in the first location of each channel. Using a forklift, the second pallet is inserted, pushing the first pallet forward and occupying its position. Thus, the first pallet in is the last to be retrieved.
Flow channels for picking from pallets
Levels of pallet flow racking are sloped at one angle to feed the pick stations, which are also pallet flow racks but sloped at the opposite angle. The pallets from the upper levels are inserted into the lower levels for picking. The reserve channels also occupy the upper part of the picking aisle.
Pick modules with pallet flow rack channels
Pallet pick stations are set up on several floors, supplied with goods coming from the reserve pallet flow rack channels. Each floor can be assigned to a different type of product or turnover. The operator places the goods on a trolley, pallet truck or automatic conveyor.
Automated storage systems with pallet flow racking
Pallet flow racks can be served by fully automatic stacker cranes. It is possible to incorporate two stacker cranes, automating both storage and retrieval from the racking. Alternatively, one machine can be installed (e.g., in the loading aisle, with pallet removals carried out by forklifts).
Clad-rack warehouses with pallet flow racking
As with all other pallet racking systems, pallet flow racking can constitute the structure of a clad-rack warehouse. In addition to the stored loads, the racks support the building’s roof and purlins to which the cladding panels are fixed.
Pallet flow racking components
The manufacturing quality of the different components used in Mecalux’s pallet flow racking makes the system highly reliable, ensuring the correct operation of the system and a long service life.
Live racking is formed by elements common to all types of pallet racking (frames, beams, etc.) as well as components specific to gravity racking systems, e.g., roller tracks.
The gravity flow racks integrate a set of components that ensure the safe, speed-controlled movement of the pallets inside the storage channels.
Made of electrowelded steel, these enable the pallets to slide smoothly through the channel. Their spacing and diameter will vary according to the type and weight of the pallet.
Vertical elements consisting of two vertical profiles (uprights) joined together by means of cross-ties and diagonals.
Flow rack beams
Horizontal elements that support the roller tracks along which the pallets stored in the racking slide.
Beams located at the end of each channel and into which the flow rack channel’s profiles are fitted. They incorporate retaining stops.
These replace the exit beam when the channel protrudes past the supporting beam.
They control the speed at which the pallets move and act directly on them according to the force generated. The greater the speed or weight of the pallet, the greater the braking force.
They perform the same function as the brake rollers, acting on two adjacent rollers or directly on the pallets themselves. Brake drums are used when it is not possible to fit brake rollers.
These centre the pallet at the entrance to the channel. Their purpose is to prevent the pallet inserted from diverging from its path.
Wire mesh side protection
This restricts the access of persons to the flow rack channels. At the same, it time prevents goods from falling into passageways or work areas.
Safe load warning notices
These contain the technical racking information as well as the label indicating the deadline for the next inspection. These notices are placed in easily visible areas at the ends of the racking system.
Gravity racking accessories
Set of elements used to adapt the system to specific needs.
These parts old pallets back or separate them, making it easier to retrieve the first pallet and distribute the pressure exerted between them. Their installation is optional and depends on the features of the system.
Channels at floor-level for pallet trucks
These combine long rollers with sets of short rollers to operate with pallet trucks or stackers. They are very common in production and dispatch areas.
These components are placed at channel entry and exit points when operating with handling equipment with rigid non-oscillating forks. They facilitate pallet storage and retrieval.
They can be incorporated on the lower level of the racking to perform maintenance tasks at floor level and facilitate cleaning work.
Pallet flow racking (catalogue)
Perfect turnover rotation thanks to the movement of pallets by gravityDownload
Pallet flow racking — also known as pallet live storage, gravity racking, and FIFO racking system — is the most agile high-density pallet storage system on the market. It comprises racks containing sloped rails with rollers upon which the loads slide. Its structure leverages gravity to streamline loading and unloading operations. In addition, the absence of interior work aisles increases the utilisation of the available storage space.
Pallet flow racks have multiple benefits. First of all, they are the most agile high-density storage system with the best operational performance, making them an ideal solution for different types of warehouses. Likewise, their implementation ensures excellent inventory control. Moreover, the separation of the loading and unloading aisles eliminates interference, and the existence of a single SKU per storage channel facilitates product location and reduces extraction times. The pallet flow rack also guarantees maximum use of the available surface area, although the installation of deep channels could entail a certain loss of capacity in height (a slope of approximately 4% is required for the system to function correctly).
One of the main differences between the two systems lies in the characteristics of their respective loading and unloading operations. In a drive-in/drive-through racking system, the forklift enters the storage lanes to deposit the pallets. With pallet flow racking, on the other hand, the forklift does not drive into the structure. Instead, it places the pallets at the entrance to the selected storage channel, and they slide into their locations in a completely autonomous way. Therefore, in pallet flow racking, storing and retrieving loads is significantly safer and more agile. Another notable difference is the variety of SKUs that can be stored. The number is substantially higher in gravity racking, as each channel can store a different SKU. In drive-in racking, however, all channels of a single storage lane must house the same SKU.
The main difference between these two types of racking systems is related to the inventory management method associated with each one. The pallet flow rack has two working aisles (one for loading and the other for unloading) and operates according to the FIFO (first in, first out) principle. Thus, the first pallet deposited in a channel is also the first to be removed. Push-back pallet racking, on the other hand, works in line with the LIFO (last in, first out) method. With only one working aisle, the last pallet stored in a channel is the first to be retrieved. In warehouses that manage perishable goods (e.g., food or pharmaceuticals), the pallet flow rack is the ideal alternative, as it prioritises the removal of products with the closest expiry dates.
In pallet flow racking, storage channels can accommodate up to 30 pallets in depth. Nevertheless, it is important to note that implementing very deep channels could reduce storage capacity in height. This is due to the angle of inclination required for the system to work properly.
Each storage channel is sloped at an angle of approximately 4% to guarantee that the pallets slide smoothly and safely. If the inclination is greater, intermediate retainers must be fitted to reduce the pressure exerted by the pallets on the stops or retainers located on the end of the channels.
The spacing between uprights — in other words, the length of the beam — should be equal to the front dimension of the pallet including the load plus 160 mm of space (i.e., 80 mm on either side). Otherwise, the pallet or goods could hit the rack frame.
No. Mecalux pallet flow racking leverages the force of gravity to enable pallets to move inside the slightly inclined storage channels.
This simple system includes a pedal that moves rods that lower or lift the retainer to hold back the second pallet. When the first pallet reaches the exit point, its weight presses against the pedal, which drives the movement of the rods. The rods activate the retainer, which prevents the second pallet from continuing to advance toward the end of the channel, avoiding contact between pallets.
Pallets are usually handled from the narrower side and move inside the channels with their bottom deckboards perpendicular to the rollers. In shallow channels, pallets can be handled from the wider side. That is, they move along with their bottom deckboards parallel to the rollers. In this case, as the rollers occupy the entire width of the channel, they can be replaced with three sets of short rollers.
With pallet flow racking, it is possible to work with any type of forklift (counterbalanced, reach trucks, VNA trucks, etc.).
Yes, the pallet flow rack can be served by stacker cranes for pallets that fully automate storage and retrieval operations. This automation can also be partial, affecting only one operation. In fact, many times, a single stacker crane is installed to store pallets, while operators remove pallets in the opposite aisle using forklifts.
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