gravity flow rack

 

In the modern warehouse, conveyors are a common sight no matter what type of products the warehouse deals in.

The design of gravity conveyors allows for much easier flow of product throughout the warehouse, cutting down on picking time and in many cases providing a safer and more ergonomic way of working for your staff.

However, just like any other large installations of warehouse storage, it can be hard to get these conveyors organized and set up in a way that doesn’t impede operations throughout the rest of the warehouse. Traffic flow is a major consideration in many warehouses these days due to the amount of staffing, technology, and products within any modern warehouse or distribution center, and gravity flow conveyors can easily start to impede productivity and traffic if you’re not careful.

There’s plenty of things you can do to negate this and keep everyone working; all it takes is a little foresight and some patience when it comes to layout and floor planning. Here’s a few tips to get started optimizing your conveyor layout:

 

Use proper structural support

In most cases, conveyors (and their sibling, gravity flow racks) are designed to sit high off the ground, but the sort of supports you use in place can affect the layout of the rest of the warehouse. The trick is to find a balance between clear height and a safe operational height—the conveyors need to be waist-high to help prevent back strain on any workers using them, but the posts should be far enough apart to not create a tripping hazard or clutter up the floor any further. As you setup or readjust your conveyors, make sure to space them properly in a way that supports your conveyors or tracks without creating a hazard or cramping up floor space.

 

Add mezzanines where able

In extreme cases where conveyors are required to carry products across a greater distance through the warehouse, you begin encountering a greater reduction in work space due to the length of the conveyor itself. For cases like this, you may want to consider installing warehouse mezzanines in areas of high traffic. These mezzanines will allow you to provide extra floor space for storage or work without interrupting the path of the conveyor, and can help maximize storage area while reducing clutter.

 

Set a designated destination area for conveyors

The idea behind conveyors is that the products will get to their destination faster, but a lot of warehouse planners don’t take the time to consider exactly where that destination will be. Review what kind of goods are typically sent down these conveyors—both by checking how they’re sent (palletized vs individual boxes) and where they need to go (shipping/receiving or long-term storage) and set up their landing area accordingly. Reorganize your pallet racks (or install pallet tracks to help items get there faster) to create more space for these items to get stored efficiently upon arrival and prevent traffic jams.

 

Standardize loading and receiving procedures

While the conveyors themselves may not be too difficult to use, there’s still a lot of planning and operation that needs to go around them, particularly in regards to how items are received at the end and loaded at the beginning. Set procedures for how these conveyors are used (in regards to things like loading practices, unloading practices, spacing between new loads, and so on) and make sure every employee on the floor is aware of how they work even if they don’t interact directly with the conveyor.

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