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Flow rack systems are commonly used to stage goods for order picking in distribution warehouses and for selection of components during kitting and assembly of goods. (Flow racks are also used in some Automated Storage & Retrieval Systems!) Most flow rack systems typically include a form of gravity conveyor installed on a decline enabling stored product to automatically flow to the picking position.
The output side of a flow rack is commonly positioned adjacent to a conveyor system. Goods are selected from the flow rack and placed into a container on the conveyor in order fulfillment systems or the picked goods are added to a kit or an assembly moving along the conveyor system.
Typical Flow Rack Picking System
Confirming a Pick with Pick-To-Light
Workers replenish products in a flow rack system from the rear side of the unit. (An ASRS unit can also refill certain flow rack systems!) A conveyor, to remove empty cartons or containers from the flow rack system, is often installed over or under the main conveyor system. Lanes of conveyor between flow rack bays can be installed to return empty totes or pallets to the back of the system for refilling / re-use.
Flow racks combine the advantages of:
- dense product storage
- quick, easy access to all products
- continuous product flow
In manual picking systems, flow racks can be combined with automated electronic picking systems to speed the worker's selection and picking of product. These automated pick-directing systems eliminate the need for a paper pick list or RF terminals and allow the workers to verify the quantity of items picked with the push of a button. They can also be used to indicate a "short pick" when not enough items are available and also enable the picker to call for product replenishment. Pick directing systems and software can also be installed on the input side of a flow rack to act as "put" systems with similar advantages.
Integrated Systems Design can provide you with a flow rack and automated pick directing system for totes, cartons, pallets or other containers and products. If your material handling needs call for a flow rack application, we have the goods to meet those needs!