Material Handling Experts

888-877-3861

Information on the products and techniques to better store, handle, and move products in your facility.

Saving Space: Shelves vs. Modular Drawers vs. Flow Racking vs. Vertical Carousels

Vertical carousels and space savings

This is a good visual comparison of how much space is utilized by various storage methods. The vertical carousel provides the same amount of storage space as several rows of shelving or modular drawer storage. In this particular instance, the carousel saves over 1,400 square feet of floor space when compared to shelving. Of course, you know the cost differences are significant, but there are other factors in making a decision about these types of storage equipment.

Flow Racks also claim savings (again picking on shelving).

flow rack space savings

For the most part, flow rack stresses its ability to do something more important  – to save steps and time. That tends to be a key factor on deciding on a more expensive media, whether it’s shelving, modular storage, flow storage, or carousels. All of them offer a balance of cost vs. space savings and productivity enhancement, and all of them have key advantages over the rest, relative to cost.  There are many alternatives – including mobile aisle systems for shelves and racks. Much will depend on your load and operational needs.

COMPARING STORAGE MEDIA TYPES

This table is a quick look at the strengths and disadvantages of various storage and picking products, relative to each other. Most advanced storage methods compare themselves to shelving, and not necessarily to each other. For instance, if cost isn’t an issue (and it always is), carousels are your best bet for storage density. However, for a reduced cost, modular drawer storage saves 2/3 of floor space vs. shelving. It may not deliver the productivity gains of carousels, but if storage density is the only goal, it has an excellent cost vs. benefit ratio.

Media

Load Type

Versatility

Cost Factor

Space Utilization

Productivity

Notes

Shelving

Cartons, Bins

High

Low

Fair

Fair

Inexpensive

Modular
Drawer

Bulk
Items, Tools

Moderate

Moderate

Good

Good

Secure
(lockable)

Gravity
Flow

Cartons, Bins

Moderate

Moderate – High

Good

Good

First
In, First Out

Mobile
Aisle Shelving

Cartons, Bins, Components

High

Moderate – High

Excellent

Fair/Good

High
density, low access

Vertical Carousels

Cartons, Bins, Components

High/Moderate

High

Excellent

Excellent

High
density & access

Obviously, you’ll need to decide what matters most to you to make the right decision. Is it storage density? Labor cost reduction? Cost? Versatility? All of these storage & picking solutions offer advantages in balance, relative to each other. Other methods exist, as well, such as lazy susan bins, and hybrids of the above.

Tags: ,


Scott Stone Cisco-Eagle's Director of Marketing. He has over 25 years of experience in the industry.