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What are Flow Racks and How do they Improve Materi

07th August 2019

There are four main groups of physical equipment that support material flow: carts, workstations, packaging, and flow racks. Of those four groups, flow racks are the least understood. It may be because the others are encountered in normal life – if you go to any grocery store, car shop, mall, or even restaurant you’ll encounter various kinds of carts, workstations, and packaging. Not so much for flow racks, although they are often there but just not as visible, providing specific and useful functions.

What are flow racks?

Not to be obvious, but it’s a rack that helps with the flow of materials: material is introduced on one side and flows through the unit to the other side. They are also commonly referred to as live storage racks, point of use racks, gravity feed racks, and flow chutes, among other names. The characteristics of a flow rack are usually defined by the external footprint, the number of levels (rows), and the number of lanes (columns).

How do flow racks work?

The “flow” part of flow rack is almost always accomplished by gravity, making flow racks unique among the other types of equipment in that they move material without human action. The mechanism of flow can be roller tracks with wheels or an angled, flat surface that allows free movement.

Flow racks can be designed to move unpackaged parts, cardboard boxes, totes, bins, pallets, or almost any other kind of material. Custom flow racks can be designed at various dimensions, lanes, and levels along with other specific adjustments to fulfill specific functions.

Where are flow racks used?

If we use the term flow chutes, which is a specific kind of flow rack, you may get a different mental image – a slide. Take a ball and roll it down a slide, that’s a flow chute. The rear load refrigerators in gas stations and party stores often have angled shelves that flow bottles and cans in dedicated lanes from back to front, those are flow racks. Fast food kitchens use flow chutes to move items from the kitchen to the order picker. Once you start to think about flow racks, you see them in more places than you would expect.

In manufacturing and distribution environments, flow racks are used everywhere – warehouse, supermarket, kit cell, lineside area, and pack out zone.

This article comes from geoleanusa edit released