Correct Storage and Stacking Solutions
24 Jan 2017
Stacking and storing pallets can seem like a game of giant Jenga, but it is no game given the number of working hours lost as a result of back injuries caused by manual handling.
This is one of the reasons why many companies are choosing to move away from manual pallet stacking in favour of automated solutions and using stackable pallets or collapsible containers which offer far fewer risks for workers.
These types of automated solutions can also increase production output significantly and save on both labour and transport costs. They can enable the pallets to carry or store their maximum loads and be stacked efficiently without having to compromise on safety.
Business owners are also seeing the benefits of automation in terms of enabling barcode scanning and increasing ease for customers unpacking or picking the stack of plastic containers.
The Importance of Stacking Pallets Correctly
It was once the case that it was only wholesale outlets which would leave stackable pallets on the shop floor. Today, however, it is not unusual to see pallets on mainstream supermarket floors, especially during busy periods. This practice, the more complex patterns being used and changes to Health and Safety Executive’s L23 guidance for manual handling are leading to an increase in automated palletising solutions. Ultimately, the stability of the stack is of paramount importance whilst running an efficient operation.
Leaving gaps between the pallets can help to build a stable stack. This can be achieved consistently with the use of an automated programme, whether a business is shipping pallets, storing them or using them on the shop floor.
Automation can also be useful in responding to increasing retailer demand for mixed pallet loads to simplify stockroom inventories, and robots can be programmed to palletise different products on a single pallet without stability being compromised.
Robotic arms can be used to ensure stability for businesses choosing to follow the emerging double-stacking trend, which increases storage capacity. The success and safety of this depend on the strength of the bottom pallet load and the accurate placing of the pallets above.
The choice of stacking pattern can also be vital in ensuring maximum safety and convenience while moving and unpacking specific pallet loads. The design will usually depend on the destination of the pallet, such as whether it will end up on a shop floor or in a shipping container.
Most pallet stacks will not have the same pattern on each layer, either, as most will be arranged with interlocking layers to increase stability. The exception to this rule is when rigid cardboard boxes, which are all of a similar size, are stacked.
The perfect pattern will also depend on the specific size and type of pallet being used and factors such as whether the pallet has two- or four-way entry, if all sides have skid bases, and whether the straps are parallel to the short or long edge.