Does Your Warehouse Need Rapid Inventory Cycling? Switch To FIFO Picking And Gravity Flow Pallet Racking

First in, first out (FIFO) warehouse systems are perfectly suited to warehouses that need quick inventory turnover. In this type of system, the items arriving at your warehouse form a queue – items that have been in your warehouse the longest are picked first from your racks. 

You avoid losing inventory to spoilage or having your inventory become outdated while sitting in your warehouse since a FIFO system forces your oldest inventory to be selected first by your pickers. The best way to implement a FIFO system in your warehouse is to upgrade to a gravity flow pallet racking system. Here's why.

What Are the Benefits of FIFO Picking?

FIFO systems are commonly used in situations where your inventory carries expiration dates, such as in the food industry. If pallets linger in your warehouse too long, their contents may expire while still sitting on your racks. This results in inventory loss and wasted money.

However, FIFO systems are also useful for warehouses that stock clothing or computer equipment. You don't want anything to become outdated while still sitting in the warehouse. Any warehouse that desired rapid turnover of inventory can benefit from a FIFO system.

How Does a Gravity Flow Pallet Racking System Enforce FIFO Picking?

FIFO picking can be implemented using a digital inventory management system along with selective pallet racking. Your pickers receive a lot number to pick from that represents the oldest pallet or carton on your rack, ensuring that your pickers are selecting the inventory items that have been in your warehouse for the longest period of time.

One downside of selective pallet racking is low storage density. In a selective system, pickers need to have access to every pallet in your warehouse. This means that your warehouse needs numerous aisles and you can't load pallets deeply onto the racks, as you can't have any pallets in your warehouse that are inaccessible to pickers. With warehouses moving towards high-density storage solutions to maximize utilization of their warehouse space, a selective pallet rack system is often a poor choice that places a limit on the amount of inventory you can hold.

A gravity flow pallet racking system corrects this problem while preserving FIFO item picking. In a gravity glow system, your pallet or carton racks are equipped with rollers and are constructed at a slight downward slope. When pallets or cartons are loaded onto the rack from the loading side, they naturally slide down the rollers towards the picking side. 

When a carton or pallet is removed by a picker, the next lot in the rack slides down in order to replace the removed item. You can create deep stacks of pallets and cartons in a gravity flow system since they naturally form a queue that ensures the oldest items are always picked first. This allows for FIFO picking while also increasing your storage density.

One downside of a gravity flow system is that the rollers require maintenance. Dirt on the pallets or dust in the warehouse environment can jam the rollers, causing your pallets or cartons to become stuck in the middle of the rack instead of sliding down. You'll need to have a technician on staff to keep the rollers well-lubricated and to free stuck pallets.

If you're considering upgrading your warehouse to a FIFO picking system and want to maximize volume utilization, gravity flow pallet racking is the way to go. Contact a warehouse installation expert in order to make the switch – gravity flow systems work best when they're customized and installed according to the weight of the pallets or cartons that will be loaded in them. A custom-designed solution from a professional warehouse installation company reduces the frequency of jammed rollers and stuck pallets.

For more information, contact a company like Warehouse Equipment Solutions.