30 July 2014

The average height of standard pallet racking is about 4 metres. In these kind of warehouses we mostly see standard forklift trucks storing or retrieving pallets. The average turnover is low and the aisle width is comfortably large.

The problems start when we are putting pallets away on 7, 8 or even 10 metres. In these warehouses, performance is a key indicator and the warehouse manager wants maximum storage capacity, whilst maintaining a high level of throughput. Different from a pure stock warehouse, we will now see various storage solutions to suit specific warehouse functions. Automated systems for piece picking, ABC categorizations and orderpicking areas. Even in the pallet area for bulk we see narrower aisles, higher rackings and deployment of reach trucks.

Now, contrary to orderpickers, the driver of a reach truck stays on the floor level and has to put pallets away on levels which transcend an apartment building. Poor sight may result in pallets falling unexpectedly and damaging goods and the truck. Or even worse…

How can you make sure the job is done safely, then? Paying attention to the following 5 topics can improve the situation a lot.

  1. First of all, use only reach trucks with a design that maximizes view on high loads. Overhead guards should be designed in such a way that they protect against falling goods, but still offer unexpected good views through the bars. Pay also attention to the design of the mast or the fork carriage. Not all trucks are equal!
  2. Use smart features which help putting the pallet away safely. Have your reach truck equipped with a camera/monitor combination or with a pre-set height selector. Such a selector will help the mast stopping at exactly the right height, thus minimizing risks.
  3. Always make sure reach truck drivers are well trained.
  4. Some reach trucks also offer features that smoothen out mast movements. For example, the Responsive Drive System (RDS) on the Cat® reach trucks. This functionality smoothens out the starts and stops of all reach movements. Or look for trucks which dampen the typical swaying movement of masts which are elevated at serious heights. It is incredible how much time is saved by such a feature.
  5. Finally, take measures regarding the racking itself. Use pallet stops at the back, for example. Even paying attention to the specific colour of the beam can make the difference between a guess and a safe bet.