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Invest in durable, heavy-duty shelving options for your warehouse with our selection of industrial steel shelving products.
Organize the supplies in your shipping center with the help of sturdy industrial pallet racks.
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Industrial Storage Racks
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How to Set Up a Warehouse
If you've outgrown your current space, starting your own warehouse could be the next logical step in storing and selling your company’s products online. Or it could be a profitable new venture to create a warehouse and rent out your space to other businesses. No matter what your business goals are, setting up a warehouse from scratch requires some careful planning. The layout and allocation of your space need to be mapped out early on. We’ve created this warehouse layout guide to help you set up any type of warehouse for maximum efficiency. Shop All Industrial Supplies Click below to learn more about basic warehouse design: Inbound Loading Dock Receiving Storage and Putaway Picking Shipping Outbound Loading Dock Other Warehouse Spaces Common Warehouse Layouts Warehouse Layout Before you being laying out the schematic of your warehouse, you should be familiar with the essential functions of a fulfillment center and the equipment used to handle materials. Goods come in, they get put away in storage, and they get picked for shipping. To make this happen, the goods flow from one section of the warehouse to the next. Your warehouse setup will be the most successful if you provide space for the following locations: 1. Inbound Loading Dock The loading dock, also called a receiving dock or loading bay, is the entry point where inbound trucks deliver goods to your warehouse. On the exterior of the building, a large parking area provides room for trucks to back up to the building. The dock floor is built to be flush with the truck beds so workers inside the building can enter the trailer with forklifts and pallet jacks. Loading Dock Layout Tips The parking area outside the dock should provide enough room for the largest trucks to turn around and back up to the loading bay. Dock height should be based on the bed height of the most common delivery vehicle used. Consider the number of pallets you'll be unloading during peak delivery times and allocate space for the goods and the loading dock equipment. 2. Receiving The receiving process begins as soon as goods are unloaded on the dock. Shipments are inspected, invoices are checked, and permanent storage locations are assigned for each item. By allocating a holding space for these tasks to be performed, you avoid bottlenecks when multiple shipments arrive at once. A successful receiving area should be located right next to the inbound loading dock. You’ll need space for pallets and boxes to be unloaded and a temporary space for receiving tasks to be performed. The receiving manager needs a home base to work from, which might include a permanent desk with outlets for a computer and room for filing cabinets if you use paper invoices. Receiving Area Layout Tips You can make your receiving process more efficient by including space for temporary holding locations where goods can be staged before putaway. Allow space for performing a thorough quality control check before goods are put in storage. Catching any defects or damage now will help you in the long run. 3. Storage and Putaway Most of the square footage in your warehouse will be dedicated to storage space. When you look at your warehouse space in terms of cubic feet, your storage area should take up between 22% to 27% of the total warehouse space. That percentage may sound small, but it’s because cubic feet accounts for all the vertical space in between the floor and ceiling, not just floor space. For maximum efficiency, you’ll need to take advantage of the clear height of your warehouse. What Is Clear Height in a Warehouse? Clear height is the maximum usable vertical space in your warehouse where goods can be stored. The clear height in your building will be lower than the ceiling height and must account for sprinkler systems or ductwork. Storage Area Layout Tips Take advantage of the available clear height by using pallet racks and industrial shelving to store goods vertically. Using warehouse management system software helps you to maximize your storage space and assign locations. Aisles in your storage area need to be wide enough to accommodate pallet jacks (4' to 5' wide) and/or forklifts (12' to 13' wide) Don't forget to install the proper lighting in your storage area so that goods are visible to order pickers. 4. Picking Picking is the process of retrieving goods from storage to fulfill customer orders. The warehouse employees that perform this task are called pickers. Your picking area is the home base for order pickers — it's the place where they receive their list of items and where they bring orders that are fulfilled. Picking should be located very close to the storage area and may even share some square footage. The picking area should have enough room to store picking equipment like forklifts and pallet jacks. You'll also need space for the picking manager's desk and computers for accessing the warehouse management system. Picking Area Layout Tips Add space in your layout for roller conveyors to carry fulfilled orders from picking to shipping. If your warehouse is small and you don't store items on pallets, shopping carts and shopping baskets can be used to collect smaller items during picking. 5. Shipping After orders have been picked, they are sent to the shipping and packaging area to be boxed up for fulfillment. The shipping area should be close to your storage and picking locations so that goods flow efficiently from one area to the next. Make space in your shipping area for shipping stations — work tables that are set up with all the shipping supplies your workers need to package goods. Shipping Area Layout Tips Besides shipping stations and packing tables, you’ll need space to store your backup inventory of shipping boxes and supplies. It can be helpful to add space for order staging, or organizing shipments by carrier so they are ready to be loaded onto outbound trucks. 6. Outbound Loading Dock The outbound loading dock is the end of the line for your products. It's the exit point where goods are loaded onto trucks for shipping. Just like the inbound loading bay, the outbound bay area should be the same height as the truck beds that back up to the dock. Pallets that are staged in the shipping area can be quickly moved onto trucks and then onto their final destination. Creating two loading bays (inbound and outbound) in your warehouse is necessary for a couple of reasons. For efficiency, goods should always be flowing forward in your warehouse. If you use the same dock for shipping and receiving, you will have goods moving both ways, which creates space issues and confusion. You also have to consider the truck yard and how many trucks are coming and going from your warehouse. Separating the inbound and outbound traffic helps alleviate bottlenecks. Outbound Loading Dock Layout Tips Include plans for proper ventilation on your loading dock because idling trucks create a lot of exhaust fumes. Organizing outbound shipments by carrier type helps to make shipping more efficient. Provide enough space for your outbound loading equipment like pallet wrap machines, pallet jacks, and dock ramps. Other Warehouse Spaces There are other warehouse spaces you'll need to include in your building layout. These locations aren't related to the product cycle but are necessary for business operations. Returns No one wants to think about their products being returned, but it's a fact of life that returns will happen, and they need to be processed the right way. A separate space for processing returns helps to keep those items segregated from the other products in your warehouse. Returns require their own receiving, inspection, and putaway process. Offices In smaller warehouses environments where you are the owner and operations manager all-in-one, you might not need a dedicated office space. Sometimes a desk on the floor of the warehouse or a mezzanine will do. But in other cases, where you have a diversified team of managers and supervisors, it's useful to have office spaces for conducting phone calls, meetings, and administrative duties. Breakrooms Your employees need a place to take breaks, eat their lunch, and store their personal belongings. Designing a space for your workers to unwind when they are off the clock is important for job satisfaction and employee retention. Restrooms Restrooms are essential for any business. You'll need to base the number of restrooms in your warehouse on the size of your workforce. If you have under 15 employees, one restroom might be sufficient. OSHA provides guidance on their restroom and sanitation requirements page. Maintenance and Parts Outside of the storage space needed to hold your products, you'll need a space to store all the parts and replacements that keep your warehouse running. Items like lightbulbs, hardware for industrial equipment, and tools for performing maintenance should all have an organized home in your warehouse. Types of Warehouse Layouts If you are building a warehouse from the ground up, there are three popular layouts that you can rely on when you plan your schematic. These designs all feature a universal rule — keep the inbound and outbound docks separated. U-Shaped Warehouse U-shaped warehouses are very common. The layout is similar to a semi-circle, with the inbound loading dock on one side and the outbound dock on the opposite side. Storage and picking are usually stationed in the center. Products are delivered on one side of the U and flow in one direction to the other side. I-Shaped Warehouse In the I-shaped layout, also called a through-flow layout, the warehouse is shaped like a large rectangle. The inbound dock is positioned at one end of the rectangle with the outbound dock on the opposite side. Storage is located in the middle of the rectangle. L-Shaped Warehouse The L-shaped warehouse also positions the inbound and outbound docks on opposite sides. The flow of traffic and goods move from one side of the L to the far side, with storage located in the "corner". With the increase of consumer online ordering and e-commerce fulfillment, warehouse space has become very valuable. If your business is outgrowing a garage or stock room, it might be time to think about building your own warehouse space to store and distribute goods. Keep all the essential warehouse functions in mind when you create a layout and don't forget to account for future growth.
If you operate a warehouse, you’ll know that implementing a strong organization method is imperative for running a successful business. A pallet racking system is a great way to help with just that by organizing stock, carrying out orders succesfully, and maximizing space in your warehouse setup. Shop All Pallet Racks Use the following links to learn more about pallet racking: Types of Pallet Racking Installing Pallet Racking Pallet Racking FAQs What Is Pallet Racking? Pallet racking is a storage system method that organizes palletized materials. The racks are set up horizontally and on multiple levels to utilize vertical space in buildings such as warehouses. Additionally, they are organized in such a way that forklifts and other material handling equipment can easily access the racks. Types of Pallet Racking There are many different types of pallet racking systems to integrate into the flow of your warehouse. Below are a few you can use: 1. Selective Pallet Racking Selective pallet racking is the most common type of pallet racking. It is versatile and can hold a wide range of products varying in size and weight. This pallet racking system is a single deep design, so there is high accessibility to every pallet. Selective Pallet Racking Benefits Low install cost Does not need special equipment such as forklifts Perfect for a variety of product sizes Stock is easily accessible Selective Pallet Racking Drawbacks Does not hold as much storage as other pallet racking systems 2. Cantilever Racking Cantilever racking is a type of pallet racking that’s especially strong, heavy-duty, and made for storing long and/or bulky items. These materials include steel piping, lumber, and plasterboard which is great for furniture, motorcycles, and boats. Cantilever Racking Benefits Low install cost Stores oversized and oddly-shaped products Cantilever Racking Drawbacks Requires the use of forklifts Needs wide aisles to accommodate forklifts 3. Drive-In Pallet Racking Drive-in pallet racking is ideal for inventory with similar-sized dimensions that shift regularly. This system is configured so the forklift truck can operate within the rack and does not require separate lanes between rows as selective pallet racking requires. This configuration also allows for high-density storage and denser arrangement of products, so the same amount of storage can be had in a tighter arrangement, saving valuable space in your warehouse. Drive-In Pallet Racking Benefits Able to store a good amount of product Ideal for warehouses that utilize Last In/First Out (LIFO) Drive-In Pallet Racking Drawbacks Cannot accommodate a wide variety of pallet sizes Increased risk of impact between forklift and racking 4. Push-Back Pallet Racking Push-back pallet racking is ideal for warehouses that use the LIFO system. The configuration has pallets loaded on trays that are being pushed along the rails of the rack frame, and the other pallets push back when a new pallet is loaded and pushed along the rails. In other words, the pallet is loaded at the front of the line and picked up from the front of the line. Push-back pallet racking can store a large number of varying-sized pallets that are easily accessible. Push-Back Pallet Racking Benefits Able to store a good amount of product Ideal for warehouses that utilize LIFO Push-Back Pallet Racking Drawbacks Costly storage option 5. Pallet Flow Pallet Racking Pallet flow pallet racking is similar to push-back pallet racking, but instead utilizes First In/First Out (FIFO) instead of LIFO. Similar to a FIFO system in a kitchen, new products are loaded onto rails from the back of a conveyor belt, being pushed along with gravity as a pallet at the front of the line is taken. Pallet Flow Pallet Racking Benefits High-density storage solution Ideal for warehouses that utilize FIFO Pallet Flow Pallet Racking Drawbacks Utilizes a lot of warehouse space Can require maintenance if conveyor belt breaks down Back to Top Installing Pallet Racking Your pallet racking system should fit seamlessly into your layout, so it’s important to accurately determine the measurements, obstacles, and operation of your space. Below is how you should install your pallet racking: Measure the Warehouse - Understand exactly how much square footage that’s available. This means taking into account structural obstacles such as columns, beams, etc. that could possibly get in your way. Note Sizes of Your Pallets - Measure the length, width, depth, and weight of the largest pallet you handle. Keep this number to identify how big your pallet rack will need to be to accommodate your biggest pallets. Calculate Pallet Rack Frame Depth - To determine how big your pallet rack’s frame depth should be, take the depth measurement of your biggest pallet and subtract 6 inches from it. The pallet rack is supposed to have 3 inches of overhand on the front end and back end of the pallet. Determine Pallet Rack Beam Sizes - When calculating your pallet rack beam sizes, take the width of your largest-sized pallet and how many pallets you will store side-by-side to find the number of inches you’ll need the beams to be. Also remember that you are required to have 3 inches of space between the pallet and the upright frames, as well as 4 inches of space between each pallet. Measure for Pallet Rack Height - To calculate the pallet rack height, take your pallet load height in inches, largest pallet height in inches, the number of pallets stored high, the beam height in inches, and the beam load clearance in inches (which is recommended to be at least 3 inches if not more). You can use Conger’s Excel-based calculator to calculate these measurements and numbers for you to determine the height. Once you have that number, take into consideration, for fire safety, the fact that you will need 18 to 24 inches of space between your highest pallet and the ceiling. Pallet Racking Parts As you familiarize yourself with your pallet racks, it’s best to get to know all the parts that make up the racking system. Below are pallet racking parts you should know: Baseplates - Baseplates are the pallet rack’s anchoring system that keeps it securely on the floor. It also helps prevent the pallet rack from tipping. Braces - The series of struts that are between the front and rear columns, usually bolted in or welded. Clips - Pallet racking clips secure your beams to the frame to prevent accidental dislodging during loading and unloading. Crossbars - Distribute weight more evenly and take extra weight off of the pallet rack beams. Horizontal Beams - The beams that are mounted horizontally to the front and back of the pallet rack. Upright Frames - The vertical posts that horizontal beams are connected to. This gives the shape and frame to the pallet rack. Back to Top Benefits of Pallet Racking Implementing a pallet racking system into your warehouse maximizes storage potential and creates an organization system to maintain stock and fulfill orders more quickly. Below are the many benefits of pallet racking: Utilizes vertical space in warehouse Allows you to manage stock more easily Prioritizes quick order fulfillment Creates an easy way to retrieve stacked pallets Keeps product off the ground and away from possible pest infestation, water damage, and from becoming a walkway hazard for employees Which Pallet Racking System Is Best? The most popular pallet racking system is selective pallet racking. Its versatility allows for many different types of items to be stored on its rack, optimizes the most amount of space compared to the other types of pallet racking, and has easy access so employees can load their forklifts safely. How Much Weight Can Pallet Racking Hold? Pallet racks can hold anywhere between 10,000 lb. to 30,000 lb. depending on the size and density of the pallet. Back to Top As you work on creating your pallet racking system in your warehouse, keep in mind the safety of your warehouse employees and take into account what types of PPE they will need while on the job.
Properly shipping goods to your customers comes with a lot of variables to keep in mind, like which corrugated box is best for orders, or how to ship your small business's goods at the best price. And when you're working in a distributing center, knowing how to stack a pallet to make sure the contents aren’t damaged is the top shipping priority. Pallet stacking is more than getting the boxes perfectly packed. It’s what keeps your employees safe from boxes toppling over, as well as optimizing freight costs so you make money from your endeavors. Below we have outlined how to stack a pallet, the best pallet stacking patterns, and how to stack mixed boxes on a pallet. Shop All Pallets How to Stack Boxes on a Pallet Listed below is the best way to stack a pallet: 1. Inspect Your Pallet As a crucial type of material handling equipment, your pallet is the true base of your structure. If there are any cracks or broken pieces, then your box structure will lean or fall. Take a second to inspect the pallet to make sure it is structurally sound. A great way to keep your pallets organized, safe, and all in one place is to try using a pallet rack. 2. Plan Your Pallet Stacking Pattern Take a look at what boxes are in the shipment order and what they contain. If they are all different sizes and weights, or all the same size box yet very heavy, you’re best off using a type of interlocking pattern. If the boxes are the same size and low-density, then a columnar stacking pattern is best. 3. Place Heaviest Boxes Down First Having the heaviest boxes on the bottom creates the most stable base, prevents lighter packages from getting crushed, and also creates a lower center of gravity for a stronger structure. Practice placing the boxes with the barcodes facing outwards so shippers and receivers can see what contents are in the boxes right away. 4. Line Up Boxes Close to the Edge When placing your first layer, bring the boxes as close to the edges as possible without them overhanging at all. Each layer should then line up with the first layer so no overhang happens as you build upwards. When boxes hang over the pallet, the box strength can reduce by 30% or more, not to mention possible freight damage while shipping and handling. 5. Fasten with Straps Now that your boxes are all set on the pallet, you need to fasten them onto the pallet using strapping bands. Use heavy-duty straps that are made from materials like polypropylene, polyester, or steel. Use two straps on either side to secure the load vertically and horizontally. There should not be more than 3 inches of space between the box and the pallet or else the strap cannot secure down the bottom boxes and they will slide around during transit. 6. Secure with Shrinkwrap Once the boxes are strapped in, use shrink-wrap on the entire perimeter of the structure. You can do this by hand or invest in a shrink-wrap machine if shrink-wrapping is very common in your facility. A great alternative to shrink-wrap boxes instantly is with pre-made pallet covers. Shop All Shrink Wrap Pallet Stacking Patterns There are a ton of different pallet stacking configurations you can use to secure your freight, and the final pallet stacking pattern ultimately depends on the box sizes and weight. Below are different pallet stacking patterns your employees can utilize when palletizing boxes. Column Stacking vs. Interlock Stacking But which pattern is the best way to stack boxes on a pallet? Well, it depends on what you're stacking. The biggest idea to keep in mind is whether you need to column stack or interlock stack. The difference between column stacking and interlock stacking is the way the boxes are placed on each other layer by layer, building specific patterns that lend their strengths and weaknesses to the overall stability of the stack. To decide whether you should use a column stacking or interlock stacking pattern, we have the benefits and disadvantages of each type listed below. Column Stacking In the diagram above, you can see that column stacking is when each box is placed directly over the box underneath it so the edges line up perfectly. This method is best for lighter density loads such as soft or fragile contents. Column stacking is the most common type of pallet stacking pattern, although there are both benefits and drawbacks to this pallet stacking method. Column Stacking Benefits Improves box security and strength by 30-50% Resists compression from shrink-wrap Column Stacking Disadvantages More susceptible to toppling if too tall of stacking height Interlock Stacking As shown in the above diagram, interlock stacking uses a type of rotating method when placing boxes so that more than one box below is supporting the box above it. This method is best for higher-density loads, such as canned goods and other heavy contents. Many believe that this is the superior way to palletize boxes, but there are both advantages and disadvantages to this pallet stacking method, too. Interlock Stacking Benefits Provides the most stability Best method for diverse box shapes and weights Interlock Stacking Disadvantages Can have fewer goods per pallet May create more pressure on individual boxes from uneven weight distribution How Do You Stack Mixed Pallet Boxes? Depending on your operation, you may have to build a pallet differently each time with diverse box shapes and weights. While it may not be the most fun game of Tetris, there are tips to make stacking a pallet with mixed boxes easier: Start with the larger, heavier boxes. Having larger boxes on the bottom creates a solid foundation and resists leaning. If the smaller boxes are a lot heavier than the larger boxes, place the smaller, heavier boxes as the first layer, then place the larger, lighter boxes on top. This will ensure that the heavier boxes are not crushing the lighter boxes, causing the stack to lean. Try to keep the same size boxes side by side. Organize each layer so it reaches the ends of the previous layers’ boxes. Keep the square or rectangular shape of the pallet and avoid making a pyramid. The shape is what gives structure to the pallet. When finished stacking the pallet, run packing tape around each layer to provide a bit more strength. What Is Pallet Stacking? Pallet stacking is strategically placing all of the boxes for a shipment on a pallet. Properly stacking pallets is crucial to maintaining the integrity of your shipped goods and, more importantly, keeping your warehouse employees safe from the hazards that a poorly stacked pallet can impose. Practicing proper pallet stacking is imperative if you operate a warehouse. It could make or break your reputation, ensure you’re earning money from your operation, and above all, keep your employees safe from haphazardly made pallet stacks. Familiarize yourself and your warehouse employees with these pallet stacking patterns and best practices so you can run a successful warehouse operation.
Upgrade Your Establishment’s Carrying Capacity and Organization through the Use of Industrial Shelving and Storage
Efficiently managing space and storage within your business helps get the most out of your location. Clutter is not only an eyesore but can also hamper productivity or even lead to accidents in your workspace. Industrial shelving and storage make it easier for your business to stow away items and get the most out of limited spaces.
Our selection of industrial shelving is a great solution to many of your establishment’s storage needs, upgrading your storage capacity. Pick stations are also a great addition to your business’s storage, putting all your ingredients in one location to make it easier for your staff to organize and fill orders. When looking at convenient storage options for your establishment, check out our selection of lockers to provide your staff with personal storage for their belongings.