Warehouse inventory comes in many shapes and sizes and when it is moved for production needs, sales or to make room for new products, it can take up an inordinate amount of space within fixed storage like selective pallet racking.
This is often the case with products such as boxes, tires, sheet metal, rolls, coils, bars and other bulky and hard-to-handle items. A racking solution that offers more flexibility and the ability to make changes on the fly would be extremely useful in the storage of these types of products.
The traditional approach to resolving this issue has been to place palletized loads on the floor, stacking them on top of each other, depending on the product. This creates hazards in the distribution center and doesn’t fully utilize vertical space because conventional pallets can only be stacked so high before damaging product or posing a tipping risk.
In these cases, portable, stackable storage racking can be a much safer and more efficient option. The versatile racks can be moved around the warehouse to take advantage of unused space or to accommodate current needs.
In multi-step manufacturing or any situation requiring frequent movement of components or products from one location to another, portable racks are specifically designed to be picked up, moved and used in the new location, eliminating the need to remove items from the rack, while keeping product safe.
“Warehouses and distribution facilities are better off utilizing portable racks instead of wooden pallets because the racking can be easily moved, loaded with product and safely stacked up to six units high. When supported by steel corner columns, portable rack completely protects the inventory,” said Craig Heil, Container Sales Manager for Steel King, Inc., a leading provider of pallet rack and portable storage rack.
Today, a wide range of portable storage racking types are designed to not only maximize the safe use of space but also material handling and shipping efficiency.
Types of Portable Racking
Rack that is specifically designed for portability and stacking, such as Stac-King by Steel King, can protect loads during storage, handling and transport, allowing materials to move through the entire production process all on the same rack.
This type of rack, which is stackable six units high with a 4,000 lbs. capacity for each, acts as its own pallet, eliminating the need and cost of wood pallets.
Vertical posts allow this type of rack to be stacked without load-on-load contact, reducing product-crushing damage. The rack is fully supported by steel corner columns to further protect inventory.
Consequently, during in-plant handling or in shipment, the rack can be safely stacked much higher than wooden pallets, utilizing overhead space more effectively.
The portable stacking rack can be dismantled for convenient, compact storage when unused. Changing the rack layout is simple, with no expensive installation or dismantling costs.
The rack is designed with removable corner posts that allow it to be shipped and stored very densely. This makes the rack ideal for applications with fluctuating inventory levels because the rack can be stored in a fraction of the space.
These portable racks provide space saving, with an added touch of mobility. The rear posts serve as load stops, assisting with proper load placement. When not in use, up to 5 racks can be stacked vertically and “nest” into each other to save floor space. The stack can also be transported to another area in a single trip.
“Empty racks and bins can be ‘nested’ – one rack set inside another rack – up to six high and moved all at once, saving space and time. They are available in multiple sizes and can be stacked in columns of four to five racks with 2,000 to 4,000 pound capacity,” said Heil.
Pin racks feature a double-level sheet metal deck, perforated to accept drop-in “pins” that can be adjusted to secure products of assorted sizes and geometries.
“Pin rack is ideal for storing steel stampings or other flat goods and is stackable up to 10 high with a 4,000 pound capacity each,” said Heil. He notes that this typically involves the use of 5/8” diameter pins, with 12” usable height, and holes on 3” centers.
Racks for Steel Coils and Bars
Steel coil is notorious for occupying substantial warehouse or production space when stored on pads or “saddles” left on the floor.
A more effective alternative is to utilize portable coil racks that can stack up to four high with coil diameters up to 72” and capacities up to 20,000 lbs. The racks are designed with 4-way entry, making them suitable for use in conjunction with forklifts or a crane to move the coils.
Similarly, portable rack can store 20,000 lbs. or more of steel bars, rods, tubing, flats, extrusions or other long products per rack.
Portable Rack Resolves Storage Challenges
Warehouse and facility managers are increasingly using portable racks to solve a variety of storage challenges.
For example, in tire manufacturing, portable racks can be loaded with a tire product and stored in a distribution center and then the same racks can be used to ship them to the dealer. The tires remain in the rack until the shipment reaches the dealer.
Another common use is in frozen foods where a slip sheet or pallet is loaded with an item, placed into a portable storage rack and then into a refrigeration unit to maximize storage density within a freezer, where the cost of storage space and electricity is at a premium.
“Practically every industry or operation has some use, somewhere in their facilities, for portable storage racks because of the versatility,” concluded Heil.