Warehouse Storage Systems – The Pros and Cons of Pallet Racks, Mezzanines and ASRs
The technology that is associated with warehouse storage systems has improved dramatically in the last few years. There are now automated warehouse management systems (WMS) and robot forklifts that are guided by laser lights. There are numerous types of storage options that are better designed to not only improve space utilization but also efficiency.
Pallet racking is a technique that utilizes racks so that goods can be stored in multiple levels above the ground therefore making better use of the available space. Instead of being limited to the storage of just one pallet, the racking systems allows for stacking of up to four or five levels, increasing space utilization many times over.
There are various adaptations of the racking system. Total cost is dependent on the upgrades selected. Generally, the pallet rack system ranks in the middle of the road in terms of cost; it is not the most expensive nor is it the cheapest. This system is an excellent method to store goods and with a roller scheme included, the pallets can easily be moved in and out in either direction. There are also excellent racking systems for storing heavy materials.
The pallet rack is clean, efficient and requires little maintenance. Because it is sturdy and re-usable, it can be moved from location to location. Used or refurbished pallet racking can be purchased to cut down on costs.
There are two disadvantages to the pallet rack system. Because all materials that are being stored must be on pallets to be moveable, a substantial inventory of pallets is required. The other disadvantage is that in order to fully utilize the system, fork lift trucks must be able to reach pallets that are high above the ground.
The mezzanine storage system is a less expensive method to make the best use of available warehouse space. It is typically a structure that is constructed between the main floors to store additional supplies or equipment. It is less expensive than other systems and can be moved from location to location.
The mezzanine storage system is best used in conditions where there is not an excessive amount of product to warehouse. In a large scale operation, this would not be the optimum method to employ. However, the cost is lower than that of other systems.
ASRS – Automated Storage and Retrieval Systems is a fairly recent system introduced for warehouse storage. This is a complex system that utilizes computers to store and recall materials by storage location. Floor space is maximized because there is not a height constraint by the fork lift operator.
The ASRS system is extremely adaptable and can be used to warehouse both large and small products. There is significant savings because the system is automated and requires less man power. In spite of the smaller man power requirement, this system is more expensive to install than either the mezzanine system or the pallet system, plus there are high maintenance expenses connected to the ASRS operation.
Space, labor, and product damage are expensive components to a warehouse operation. Fortunately, there are many effective and cost reducing storage systems that are available which can be tailored to specific needs.