Published September 7, 2022
There were nearly 8,000 supply chain disruptions in the first half of 2022—a 46% increase over the first half of 2021—according to Resilinc. As a result, retailers are increasing inventory to minimize the risk of shortages and keep up with growing customer demands and e-commerce sales. With warehouse space and labor extremely limited and expensive, it’s important to have the right warehouse storage solutions to increase efficiency and maximize space utilization.
The right storage mediums will vary depending on your unique requirements and distribution operations, including your warehouse design, inventory and SKU counts, and order volumes and profiles. The ideal warehouse storage solution is dense, dynamic and flexible, and provides high utilization throughout the year.
There are many different types of warehouse storage systems, from manual to semi-automated to fully automated. Each solution has a minimum SKU-to-pallet ratio in order to achieve high utilization. Below is an overview of some of the top warehouse storage solutions for distribution operations.
Selective Pallet Rack
Selective pallet racking is a “first in, first out” (FIFO) single-deep storage solution that provides 100% selectivity of the pallets stored in the rack system. This low-cost solution is ideal for a warehouse with a wide array of low-volume SKUs.
Double-Deep Pallet Rack
Double-deep pallet racking is a “last in, first out” (LIFO) 2-deep storage solution that provides 50% selectivity of the pallets stored in the rack system. This solution increases storage density by providing the twice the amount of pallet storage in half the amount of space.
Push Back Rack
Push back rack is a LIFO solution that can store anywhere from two to six pallets deep. This versatile solution offers a higher storage density than other racking systems and is best used in warehouses with a high pallet count of the same SKU.
Pallet Flow Rack
Similar to push back rack, pallet flow racking systems offer a higher storage density (anywhere from two to 20 pallets deep), but are FIFO, making them an ideal solution for time-sensitive or perishable goods.
Drive-In Pallet Rack
Drive-in pallet racking is a LIFO solution that can store an unlimited depth of pallets. With maximum storage density and low selectivity, these systems are ideal for storing large quantities of homogeneous products or items that are not time-sensitive.
Also referred to as “floor stacking,” bulk storage can support both FIFO and LIFO and requires no physical equipment, with products stored directly on the floor several pallets deep. Bulk storage offers the highest storage density with the lowest level of selectivity, so it is only desirable if you have small number of SKUs and a large volume of stackable pallets of the same SKU. While this storage solution is infinitely dense, it is governed by local fire authority for high piled bulk storage and required paths of egress.
Pallet Shuttle System
The pallet shuttle is a semi-automated high-density storage solution that can operate in both FIFO and LIFO modes. The pallet shuttle system does not have any constraints with regards to depth of pallets. The only governing factor on depth of the storage system is the quantity of pallets per SKU. This data will provide the ideal depth in order to achieve maximum utilization of the system.
Four-Way Shuttle System
The four-way shuttle is a high-density automated storage and retrieval system (ASRS) that is ideal for warehouses looking to maximize their storage capacity and automate their distribution operations. This solution includes a sophisticated software program that communicates with your warehouse management system (WMS) to automatically pick and put away pallets in the storage system. Additionally, the software can track historical and other inventory data to identify the optimal storage location for pallets to increase efficiency and throughput.
Before selecting a storage medium, it is necessary to provide your warehouse design expert with critical data so they can determine the best type of solution for your unique distribution operations. Your warehouse consultant will ask for information about your inventory mix and history, including an item master and an inventory report with 12 months of inventory levels so they can identify any peaks and valleys. You will also want to provide your estimated growth plan to ensure the warehouse storage solution is capable of meeting not only your current but also your future operational and business requirements.
Looking to improve your warehouse storage solutions? Contact us today to learn how we can help you maximize your warehouse space and optimize your distribution operations.