Pallet Rack Storage Ideas for Difficult Loads and Situations
A guide to storing reels, motors, dies and difficult loads
Pallet rack systems are more versatile than simply storing skids in high bays. Many of our clients need to store more specialized loads, such as rolls, dies, tubes, fragile items and more. With the right hardware and design, almost anything can be safely and efficiently stored.
Die storage issues and options
Die storage is an issue in many manufacturing, energy sector and heavy equipment facilities, but there are many options for dealing with it. One of the key things is to differentiate between bulk and process storage–the difference between dies stored either before or after processing, or those needed for an active process.
Bulk storage means that the dies aren’t frequently accessed. They’re in stock, either recently arrived, or awaiting use in a process. They are usually installed in very heavy duty pallet rack systems that can handle their density and weight. They typically outweigh most loaded pallets or containers, so be careful to specify a rack system built for a concentrated, heavy load.
Process storage, where the dies are more frequently in use, means that dynamic rack options like roll-out or crank-out shelving systems are preferable. These let the operator store more near his workstation, and access them, typically with a crane, hoist or balancer system. We see this type of use in heavy manufacturing, where space near work cells is tight and people need frequent access to stored or in-process items.
Loading and unloading is also a critical issue for storing heavy dies. While that is true of any load, dies and other heavy components require more forethought. If people need to routinely access them, forklifts are less efficient and more time consuming. If your people are always accessing dies, built-in cranes and hoists allow faster, easier accessibility.
Storing rolls and reels
Rolls, reels and other spooling loads can be stored in either teardrop or structural pallet racks. To accomplish this, special reel pockets are placed on the upright and then fitted with a horizontal bar. Rolled items (like film, wiring, cables or paper) are placed on the bar, and can be dispensed. The key thing to understand here is that the capacities for these racks must be understood, since the loads are dynamic. Reel pockets have their own capacities (calculated per pair) that must be taken into account as well.
A checklist for dispenser racks:
- Provide the height of your forklift’s reach
- Provide the clear ceiling height (this is typically the lowest obstruction, like a light, minus 4′)
- Number of stored reels
- Reel dimensions: diameter and width
- Reel weight when fully loaded
- Basic rack layout: number of rows, number of bays with reel storage; single or double side; number of vertical reel levels
- Rack dimensions: row length desired, frame height, and beam width
- Any application notes, such as load type, frequency of access and operating environment
Be certain that your load can be lifted safely by a forklift using coil lifter attachments, that do not damage or indent the rolled materials. If the rolls are sensitive or fragile, you may need to load differently. Cable reel racks are also available in a-frame configurations for smaller or ground-level and hand-loaded applications.
Empty pallet storage is a real issue
One of the challenges for distribution and cross-docking companies is to handle a large number of empty skids. They can be floor-stacked, if you have the space. Most safety experts will tell you not to store them em masse in your current rack system due to the fire dangers of stacked pallets. One of the more frequent methods is to store them in specialized racks installed above your dock doors. This removes them from general inventory, which can be safer than storing them alongside stock. Also, it can make use of the space above your doors, which is typically unused.
Long item storage
Many long items can be better stored on cantilever racks than pallet racks, but there are applications where pallet rack makes more sense or fits better in the storage strategy of your facility. We’ve done projects, for instance, where long rolls of film or fabric can’t be stored on cantilever arms because the arm would dent fragile materials. In other cases, you may already have pallet racks and want to adapt them to store longer items because you have the space and there isn’t any reason to invest in new equipment. Pallet racks can be adapted with relative ease for these applications.
Pallet racks can be adapted with vertical a-frame components that allow you to store long, slender and rigid materials–things like pipes, molding, lumber, guttering, poles, and molding. These are usually hand-pick applications on the floor level. When you store items in these racks, they lean from the front of the bay and rest on the framework in the back. Adjustable arms segregate items to create a “pocket” of storage and SKU separation, as well as provide further stability. This provides consistent support along an entire row of racks for tall items. You can build a single or double sided row of vertical storage using this method.
In the case of horizontal storage, you can store very long items on pallet rack frames if necessary. This type of storage is often designed so that a double-row of rack is built with decking to support the load. Loads that fit this model tend to be too fragile for cantilever storage, and are picked with a forklift using a ram pole attachment. This ensures that arms or tines don’t imprint or cause indentions on the load. Typical loads include film, carpet, rugs, roofing materials or cloth. This removes the rolls from floor storage, which is not space efficient and poses some safety concerns.
If you need to store it, there is always a way
Scott Stone is Cisco-Eagle's Marketing Director with three decades of experience in material handling, warehousing and industrial operations. He writes on automation, warehousing, safety, manufacturing and other areas of concern for industrial operations.