We often get asked if pallet shuttle systems are competitive products to our push back systems, after all, both products allow you to achieve high-density storage within your warehouse. While the density characteristics of the two products may be similar, the operational needs of pallet systems are significantly different from push back systems.
The key is the shuttle itself – every time you need to empty a different lane you must pick up the shuttle from wherever it is and place it in the lane you wish to unload. If you are emptying an entire lane, this is not much of a penalty in extra handling. However, if you need two pallets from one lane, three from another, one from another, etc. – the additional handling of the shuttle can be excessive. Pallet shuttle racks are truly best suited to truckload in / truckload out quantities (in fact many systems are sold with 24-26 deep lanes). That also means that a typical end-user would have 80 to 100 or more pallets per product to be stored, and that kind of inventory mix is pretty rare with most of the warehouses and distribution centres that we see.
Push back racking is best suited to applications where the number of pallets per SKU range from about 6 to 50. A pallet system would not work very well with this kind of inventory mix as it would have low occupancy or a high handling cost. In a way, comparing pushback to pallet systems is like comparing pushback to selective rack – selective rack is effective for storing 1-5 pallets per SKU and pushback would be very inefficient at those levels. That is why 3D Storage Systems has always recommended solutions that best match the customer’s inventory, which usually means a mix of storage types from selective rack, to pushback and possibly even a shuttle system.
We have also found that in the higher volume situations, utilizing floor storage with pushback racks above has been a good fit for many of our customers. This allows the high volume product to be stored on the ground for ready access, and smaller batches of product can be stored up above in pushback racks. This is also a cost-effective way of achieving high density and selectivity.
3D can help you to determine the best storage option for your products. Oftentimes, we’ll recommend a combination of various different systems based on your unique application.