Proper Load & Unload Techniques for Pallet Flow Rack
Pallet Flow rack is a hard-working, low-maintenance and high-density pallet storage solution commonly used across industries from food distribution and grocery to automotive, retail and more. Pallet flow typically is used to support first-in/first-out inventory rotation, but it can also be configured for push-back pallet storage, or last-in/ first-out use. A pallet flow lane is comprised of wheeled rails or rollers that are installed with a slight slope.
Rails can be mounted within pallet rack or onto floor-mounted stands to flow pallets in a controlled manner from a charge (load) side to a discharge (unload) side of the system. Proper pallet loading and unloading is important to protect the pallet flow rails, workers and inventory but can easily be mastered with this helpful video and instructions.
Before your driver gets into the fork truck… confirm these four steps. These steps are important warehouse safety measures for all your pallet rack systems:
Important Steps Before Loading the System:
- Ensure all operators are OSHA trained
- Always use standardized, quality pallets
- Check for broken or splintered pallet runners – don’t place damaged pallets in the lane
- Check that the load weight is under the rated system capacity
Pallet Flow Loading Procedures:
- Square the forklift with the opening of the lane on the charge side of the system.
- Lift the pallet 3 to 4 inches above the rails. Note: Be careful not to raise the pallet too high as to strike the load above.
- Place the pallet centered in the lane and slowly lower it onto the rails. Never “toss” the pallet onto the rails.
- After securely placing the pallet, slowly back out of the lane.
Sometimes you may note that there are entry guides mounted on the left and right sides of the lane opening. Entry guides make loading the system easier and slightly quicker because they ensure the pallets are squared in the lane. Squaring the pallet in the lane is important to ensure that it flows centered down the lane.
Pallets should easily advance on their own. If for some reason there is a slight hang-up, the forklift operator can gently nudge the last pallet in the lane before backing out to resume proper flow. This is called “Charging the System”.
Pallet Flow Unloading Procedures:
- Square the forklift with the discharge side of the system (pick face).
- Load the pallet onto the outriggers and raise it 3 to 4 inches above the rails before slowly backing out.
- If the rear pallets do not advance on their own, pause and gently go forward to nudge the next pallet a few inches and resolve the hang-up and advance the pallets.
- The driver helps control the flow with the speed at which he backs away from the system.
Careful consideration should be given to the turning radius of the forklift to avoid rack impact. Heavy-duty upright and row-end protection can be added to the rack to prevent system damage, especially in high-traffic areas.
Push-Back Pallet Flow
Pallet flow can also be designed as a push-back system. Benefits to this configuration is that it only requires a single aisle for both loading and unloading of pallets and it supports a last-in/first-out inventory rotation.
The loading and unloading procedure remains the same just completed from a single aisle facing the down lane or pick-face position.
If you have any questions regarding pallet flow system use or other pallet rack systems design, operation or maintenance, call the Apex team. Our pallet rack experts are available to answer your questions or even evaluate the safety of your system and operations.