Choosing the right storage system

Choosing the right storage system

It can often be difficult choosing a storage system specifically for a palletised warehouse. Alan Moule, Divisional Manager of Barpro Storage has some tips on how to ensure you make the right choice…

Obviously the first major consideration is whether you will be making do with existing premises, or do you have the freedom to build a new facility from scratch? If the former, then you are clearly limited to working within the confines and limitations of such premises. With a new build you have the opportunity to plan it right from the start. Huge advantage.

We will assume the latter, although the following will also apply to existing buildings within the limitations mentioned.

The first obvious question is whether product is to be stored at ambient temperature or chilled or frozen?

Other important considerations are type of product, product mix (number of different items, or SKUs), shelf-life or importance of stock rotation, susceptibility to damage, need for order picking of individual items and to what extent and many others.

How essential is it that you make optimum use of available space?

And this refers to volume, not just square area. If you have very little product, and huge areas in which to store it, then the simplest solution is to just dump it on the floor. This of course is hugely wasteful and inefficient by any measure you apply. So, the next step, almost invariably applicable, is to use racking of some kind. This is where analysis and application of the relevant data is required.

Virtually every new facility is required to squeeze in as much product as possible for obvious reasons – and to meet this criterion there are multiple choices of ‘hi-density’ racking systems available on the market.

How high should you make your building?

Bearing mind when doing your financials that it is volume you need to consider, not just area, since this is what you’ll ultimately be paying for (very especially in the case of cold and freezer stores). Generally speaking, the higher the better, from a cost-per-pallet stored perspective.

Here are some of the systems commonly considered:

  • High bay systems
  • Storax very narrow aisle (VNA) system

Many stores around the world will use hi-bay VNA rack systems, which can be up to 30m or higher. This is fairly efficient in terms of space utilisation, and moreover allows selective access to every individual pallet. However, flexibility is seriously compromised – especially when the racks are use as the support structure for the building, an increasingly popular application – and once built the system is restricted to only the specific size and weight of the load it was originally designed for.

Such systems are also costly and involve lengthy construction times – and need very expensive specialised handling equipment, and a high level of automation to work really well.

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