Knowing when to upgrade your pallet racking system can be a challenging decision to make. However, the modern warehouse requires optimization. If your existing pallet racking system is over 10 years old, it might be time for you to make an upgrade.
While pallet racks have been used in warehouses since the early 20th century, it wasn’t until the 21st century that different types of racking systems were introduced to the market. With the right warehouse racking system, you can perform real-time monitoring of your inventory. You should also experience substantial improvements in efficiency and accuracy.
Though racking systems are often made with durability in mind, they will eventually start to display signs of damage, which include everything from bent beams and cracks to corrosion. Along with damaging your productivity, a faulty racking system is also a safety risk. The following guide tells you everything you need to know about when to upgrade your pallet racking system and how to make the best choice for your facility.
Assessing Warehouse Needs and Growth
Before you start looking at new pallet racking systems to install in your warehouse, you should first evaluate your warehouse storage needs. Without determining how much storage you require, you could end up purchasing too few or too many pallet racks, which would delay the full implementation of your new system.
Make sure you analyze your current and projected inventory volume as well. While the current volume gives you good insight into how much inventory your warehouse typically deals with, most warehouses experience varying inventory levels at different times of the year. For example, you might have five times as much inventory going in and out of your warehouse during the holiday season in comparison to the calm summer months.
When you’re considering upgrading your pallet racking system, plan for future growth and expansion. If you currently sell products in one state but plan to expand to additional states, you should consider this growth when evaluating what your racking needs are.
Current System Limitations
To understand the importance of upgrading to a new pallet racking system, identify the current system’s limitations. Evaluate the shortcomings of your existing pallet racking system. Some of the most common issues with older pallet racks include poor load capacity, organizational problems, and a lack of accessibility. While it’s possible to make modifications to a current system, you should assess whether such modifications are feasible. If you need to make sweeping changes to your older system, it’s likely more cost-effective to replace it altogether.
Safety and Compliance Concerns
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has created many guidelines over the years that warehouses and distribution centers must follow when storing items on racking systems. If your current system is damaged or outdated, it poses numerous safety hazards.
The type of severity of the hazard depends on the issue with your racking system. If large cracks have developed, a rack may no longer be able to support the weight capacity that it’s rated for, which puts your personnel at risk whenever they’re around the pallet rack in question. It’s also possible that your existing system doesn’t have up-to-date fire protection capabilities, which means that your inventory losses could be high in the event of a fire.
When you’re searching for a new pallet racking system, make sure the one you select is compliant with all industry regulations and standards. Buying a non-compliant system puts your personnel and building at risk. During your search, it’s highly recommended that you prioritize employee and inventory safety.
Modern warehouses can significantly improve their efficiency and productivity by taking advantage of the most recent technological advancements. Explore new technologies to further optimize your warehouse operations. For instance, you could integrate automation and inventory management systems, the latter of which are useful when optimizing with productivity in mind.
Consider how a new racking system can accommodate the technological advancements you wish to install in your facility. For instance, the inventory management system or automation you’re thinking of installing might be best when paired with a specific type of pallet racking system. By having a firm understanding of the types of technology you’ll be using in your warehouse, you should have a better idea of how a new racking system will integrate with this technology.
Workflow Efficiency and Accessibility
Make sure you consider workflow efficiency and accessibility when looking for a new pallet racking system. The right type of system can help you make your warehouse more accessible while also making it easier for personnel to reach every product you store in your facility. A great layout can make your warehouse more efficient.
If you select the best system for your facility, it should enhance the flow of goods from storage to shipping. Personnel should be able to get from the storage areas to the loading areas without any delays or difficulties. When choosing a system, your goal should be to minimize travel time and boost overall productivity.
Expansion and Space Utilization
Unless you manage or own a large warehouse or distribution center that has more space than you require, you’ll invariably need to consider space constraints. Knowing how to manage limited space is among the most challenging tasks that warehouse managers must contend with. It’s possible, however, to address these constraints with the use of vertical storage.
The right solution allows you to store items vertically and effectively increase your available storage space. If your current system doesn’t offer much vertical storage, you may be dealing with cluttered storage areas and inefficient loading and unloading processes. You can use your warehouse space more efficiently with a new system. Plan for increased storage capacity without compromising the organization of your items.
Cost-effectiveness and Return on Investment
Before you make a final purchasing decision, calculate the costs associated with the initial installation, ongoing maintenance, and potential downtime. Your new system might have fewer maintenance requirements and less downtime than your current one.
You should also compare the long-term benefits of a new system against ongoing repairs. Older systems require more repairs as they age. These repairs cost money and increase downtime. Evaluate the potential return on investment in terms of improved efficiency and reduced risks. If your current pallet racking system is more than two decades old, a modern upgrade could improve efficiency ten-fold.
Customization and Scalability
Depending on the system’s provider, it’s possible for modern pallet racking systems to come with numerous customization options. You could customize everything from the weight capacity to the safety features. The customization options you explore should be based on any unique storage requirements in your warehouse.
Make sure you consider the scalability of the new system to accommodate future changes. Even if you only expect to use around 80% of the space that a new pallet racking system provides, any growth your company experiences in the future could require more storage space. Tailor the pallet racking solution to fit your warehouse’s specific needs.
Partnering with Experts
If you wish to be confident in the pallet racking system you buy, consider consulting with professionals in warehouse design and logistics. Experienced professionals can help you design a system that fits your available space and accommodates all your needs.
You should also collaborate with suppliers to choose the right type of pallet racking, of which there are many to choose from. Your options include everything from selective racking to cantilever racking, which is why it’s highly recommended that you learn more about the various types of racking before making a purchase.
Once you buy a pallet racking system, ensure proper installation, alignment, and safety measures. Your personnel should know how to properly use these systems and navigate any hazards that might arise.
Timing the Installation
Now that you’ve made a purchase, it’s time to schedule installation. Determine the optimal time for installation in a manner that minimizes disruption. Try to coordinate installation during periods of lower warehouse activity. If you can time the installation to take place at the slowest time of the year, you minimize your losses during any downtime that occurs. While you can’t be certain how long it will take for your employees to acclimate to the new system, planning for a smooth transition from the old system to the new one can alleviate some of the challenges.
You should choose to install a new pallet racking system if you need to increase efficiency or when you notice that your current system is starting to show signs of wear and tear. Once you’ve made the decision to upgrade your pallet racking system, it’s important that you carefully assess your needs, plan, and obtain professional guidance from people who have handled pallet racking upgrades.
There are many advantages that come with moving to a new pallet racking system, which include everything from higher efficiency and safety to a better overall warehouse performance. Realizing these advantages can be the key toward helping your company grow.