Edward Hutchison, Managing Director of BITO Storage Systems, believes that no matter how difficult a product is to store and pick, improvement can always be found.
Some items are more difficult to pick than others. Often these items are stored the way they always have been. But that is never an excuse not to investigate how storage efficiency and picking productivity can be improved. Many operations that have straightforward pallets and cases also deal in irregular shapes and outsizes that present their own challenges. Some operations deal only in items that are difficult to store and, more particularly, difficult to pick.
Picking individual or multiple sheet material from racking is a good example. One recent application involved installing a roller-tracked location solution that combines standard BITO components and specially designed parts in a ‘letter-box’ style rack, where sheets can be picked either individually or in a collection. The racking allows multiple sheets to sit in a location that has sufficient clearance to allow air to be blown in via a hose to raise a delicate, thin single sheet to allow it to be picked individually.
Garment and apparel is a fast growing ecommerce sector requiring a mix of solutions, from hanging garment conveyors to shoe box storage and shelving for folded garments. The latter, while not presenting an obviously awkward storage challenge, can often create a problem where polythene covered individual garments easily slip out of a shelf. BITO created an essentially simple solution to this issue with modules of shelving designed to fit neatly between two uprights on the ground level of a racking structure. The shelves have a divider with a vertical return at the pick face to create a retained location that can hold a pile of individual, polythene wrapped garments securely, preventing them from sliding around during picking, while providing a gap that is wide enough to make an easy pick.
Providing locations for large and outside pallets and goods, which many facilities block stack on floors, is another route to improved storage and picking. Handling can be made easier by adding a bottom rail in the rack to lift the larger pallets off the floor and creating a rack location with a higher first beam level will make it easy to store and pick bulky, outsized items.
Sometimes odd shaped items are stored in stillages that, being heavy themselves, are often block stacked on floors. Placing stillages in a racking system however gives better utilisation of the total space and also allows use of the full height of the warehouse. A system comprising racking designed with a rail on each side of the uprights, running from front to back, will allow lift truck drivers to place a stillage in a fashion similar to a single-deep drive-in rack. This is a far more space efficient solution than using beams to rest stillages on, as is often the case in a traditional pallet-style rack.