Friday, April 24, 2015

Warehouse & Distribution News

We find great value in a monthly email that we recieve from one of our logistics partners that updates us on all sectors of the logistics industry. The main focus of our reading is on the warehouse and distribution portion of the email. This informaiton is very interesting and vauable for all in the material handling and distribution industry. We have share some important nuggets below.

The U.S. average industrial vacancy rate fell for the 19th consecutive quarter to 7.2% in Q4 of 2014. This is the lowest level in nearly 14 years. Overall vacancy was 9.7% in Atlanta and 9.2% in the South during the fourth quarter of 2014.
(Source: NGKF)

In Q4 2014, warehouse and distribution rental rates in the US averaged $5.64 per square foot, up from $5.66 Warehouse Rent Rates per square foot in the previous quarter. Rental rates for warehouse space averaged $4.10 per square foot in
Atlanta. (Source: NGKF
Net absorption in the US during Q1 2015 totaled more than 10.6 million square feet, down 5% from the same quarter one year ago. Despite the deceleration, net absorption has been positive now for 20 consecutive quarters.
(Source: Cassidy Turley) (Absorption is the net change in occupied space between two points in time. Positive absorption means that previously unoccupied space is being occupied.)

The National PMI (Purchasing Managers Index) fell 1.4 points to 51.5 in March 2015. New orders fell 0.7 points to 51.8 and production increased 0.1 points to 53.8. (Source: Institute for Supply Management) (The PMI combines data on new orders, inventory, production, supplier deliveries, and employment. A reading above 50 indicates that the manufacturing economy is generally expanding.)

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Pallet Rack Guide: Drive-In Pallet Rack

Pallet Rack Guide: Drive-In Pallet Rack

Drive In Pallet Rack

What Pallet Rack is Right for Me?

Have you acquired a warehouse and are now in search of the proper pallet rack for your storage needs?  Are you part of a growing company and in charge of selecting the rack system that will best meet your new requirements? Are you completely new to warehousing and pallet rack, and just want to learn the basics? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you’re in the right place.  At AK Material Handling Systems, we strive to help people trying to learn more about material handling and industrial storage.  That’s why we decided to put together a six-part series covering various types of rack systems, the different ways they’re utilized and what type of applications they are best suited for.  This article’s focus will be on drive-in pallet rack, a unique type of high storage density pallet rack.

The Essentials: Drive-In Pallet Rack

Whereas traditional selective pallet rack consists of upright frames, cross beams and wire decking, drive-in pallet rack is made up of upright frames and horizontal rails upon which pallets can sit.  These rails are oriented depth-wise in the rack system, and are situated at both sides of a pallet rack lane.  This allows forklifts to completely enter the pallet rack system.  In a selective rack system, this would be prevented by the presence of cross beams.  This, in turn, makes for very high storage density, or the amount of product in a given space.  This is considered a positive attribute, as it makes for a more efficient use of space.  However, because product is loaded and unloaded from the same side of the rack system, drive-in pallet rack operates with first in, last out (FILO) inventory retrieval.  This means that the products stored within a given pallet rack lane should be like-product, and should not be sensitive, as one would have to move several of the front pallets out of the way to access one of the rear pallets.  Also, attention must be paid to drive-in rack maintenance, as driving into the rack system increases danger for the forklift operator and can increase the possibility of damaging the rack.

What Is Drive-In Pallet Rack Best Used For?

Drive In Pallet Rack
Drive-in pallet rack’s primary advantage is its storage density.  More so than any other rack system, it allows a comparably large amount of product to be stored in a relatively small area of warehouse.  As mentioned, though, drive-in rack systems have pretty poor selectivity, meaning you’ll only have immediate access to a small portion of the total product.  Ideal drive-in applications, then, should meet a couple of general criteria.  One of these is that they should store like-product.  Because it will likely be a while before you’ll have access to the pallets at the back end of the rack, it’s important that it doesn’t matter which pallets are picked first.  Because immediate access will be available for only a small number of pallets, it’s imperative that only a small number of SKU’s will be stored.  Again, because drive-in pallet rack systems are FILO, the product being stored cannot be time-sensitive — product at the back of the system may stay there for extended periods of time.  Drive-in rack is commonly used in freezer applications because of its ability to store large volumes of products in a small area of freezer space.

More Questions?

If we’ve left any of your drive-in pallet rack questions unanswered or you simply want to learn more about pallet rack and which type is right for you, let AK Material Handling Systems help.  Give our  rack systems experts a call at 800-722-5908 or send an email to  We look forward to hearing from you!

Monday, March 30, 2015

Warehouse Design Questions: Who Needs Push-Back Pallet Rack?

Push-Back Pallet Storage Systems

If you’ve spent a limited amount of time in warehouses, you might be unfamiliar with pallet rack.  Most people are, at least until they have it explained to them.  It’s a product that’s simultaneously straightforward and complex.  There is not just one type of pallet rack, but rather several sub-types, all with individual duties and specialized features.  There is a lot of information out there, and new business owners or those who have never overseen warehouse operations and are suddenly in a position to do so might have a challenging time trying to figure out which type of rack should be installed in their warehouse.  To help people in situations like these, we’ve developed a six-part series discussing the major types of rack and who would benefit most from using them.

Push-Back Pallet Rack 101

Part one of our series will focus on push-back pallet rack.  Push-back pallet rack is a unique type of racking in that it works to increase storage density while simultaneously retaining a considerable amount of selectivity.  Push-back pallet rack consists of anywhere from two to six carts nested atop one another at a given pallet position.  The carts sit on rails that are tilted at an angle.  When a pallet is loaded onto a push-back rack system, it is loaded onto one of these carts.  When another pallet is loaded onto the rack system at the same pallet position, the pallet (or pallets) that is already being stored at that position will be pushed backward on its cart, and the new pallet will be loaded onto the cart that was nested below.  Likewise, when a pallet is pulled from a particular pallet position, the pallet(s) that was resting behind it will slide forward to the front.  This means that push-back pallet rack is able to increase storage density by making each pallet position deeper, but retains selectivity by maintaining a large number of pick faces.

Who Needs Push-Back Pallet Rack?

The features of push-back pallet rack make it ideal for a variety of applications.  Push-back rack can accommodate different sizes and types of pallets, such as postal pallets, GMA pallets and skids.  Push-back rack doesn’t require specialized lift trucks or storage and retrieval equipment, and also saves space.  Push-back pallet rack can also be installed atop a different type of rack system for a more diversified storage solution. 

The industry in which push-back pallet rack is perhaps most ubiquitous is food and beverage.  The food and beverage industry often utilizes cold storage, a type of storage for which push-back rack is especially well-suited.  While food and beverage may make use of more push-back rack than any other industry, it’s potential applications span far and wide.  Whether or not push-back pallet rack would be beneficial is dependent upon the conditions and operations in that particular warehouse. 
If we’ve left any of your push-back pallet rack questions unanswered, give us a call at 800-722-5908 to talk to one of our seasoned pallet rack experts.  They’ll let you know if and how you can utilize push-back pallet rack in your warehouse.

Friday, March 27, 2015

AK Makes List of 100 Best Companies to Work for presented by Minnesota Business magazine!

For the fourth consecutive year I'm proud to announce that we have made the "100 Best Companies to Work For 2015" list by the Minnesota Business Magazine. We are extremely honored and proud to join 99 other amazing companies on this list.

Providing warehouse rack and storage systems to customers across the United States is only a small piece of what the AK brand stands for. At AK we understand that in order for our customers to experience the absolute best in the material handling industry, our employees need to be happy, having fun, constantly learning, working as a team and most importantly feeling valued. We have an incredible team of individuals that come together and create a one-of-a-kind company that we are extremely proud of.

So please join us as we celebrate this incredible honor and move through 2015 as one of the top 100 Best Companies to Work For.

Congratulations to all of the other businesses joining us on the list.

~ Josh Smith

+Joshua Smith is the Director of Sales and Operations for +AK Material Handling Systems

Warehouse Design Questions: Why Buy New Pallet Rack?

Buying New Pallet Rack

If there’s anything you need to know but don’t, there are more resources at your disposal these days than ever before. The internet is overflowing with information on every imaginable topic, and pallet rack is no different. But not all of this information is accurate or simple to understand — in fact, there’s a good chance it’ll leave you feeling more confused than you were before you read it.

At AK Material Handling, we want to make sure people are as informed about pallet rack as possible, and sharing information with our customers is one of the things we do best. So, we’ve put together a blog series highlighting various types of common rack systems, providing concise information about their structural features and what they’re typically used for. In this particular article we’ll talk about teardrop pallet rack, one of the most fundamental and popular types of pallet rack on the market. We hope you enjoy.

The 411 on Teardrop Pallet Rack

Pallet rack first saw significant popularity during World War II, as the palletizing of goods became ubiquitous in warehouses. The basic components of this racking were much like what’s used today: upright frames, cross beams and some type of decking. These components could either be “structural” or “roll formed.” “Structural” pallet rack refers to a type of pallet rack that uses bolts to connect its members. The capacity of structural pallet rack is significantly greater than that of roll formed pallet rack. Roll formed pallet rack, on the other hand, features a clip-in style of beam-to-frame connection. While both styles are commonly found in warehouses, roll formed is significantly more popular than its structural cousin.

Among the most popular sub-types of roll formed pallet rack is teardrop pallet rack. (Shop Online for Pallet Rack)  Teardrop pallet rack earned its name from the teardrop-shaped holes in which the rivets of the cross beams slide into. The teardrop design has proven to be an effective one, and has become immensely popular over the years, with numerous manufacturers producing their own teardrop-style rack. The fact that teardrop pallet rack is such a staple in the pallet rack industry can be a plus for consumers, as it makes it easier to mix-and-match rack made by different manufacturers. However, serious precaution should be taken when doing so, and any warrantee given by either manufacturer will usually be eliminated. Cross beams are often kept from being dislodged from their teardrop slots by inserting a safety clip into aligning holes in he beam-to-frame connection.

Teardrop pallet rack typically has a wire decking component as well. Wire decking helps to increase the surface area upon which pallets sit, and also increases the capacity of each beam level. The wire mesh surface in wire decking is supported underneath by channels, which can come in either a U-shape or a flare shape. U-shaped wire deck channels fit step beams, or beams that have an indent in one of their sides. Flare channels, on the other hand, have a universal fit, but must be used for box beams, or beams with four even sides and no indent.


Who Needs Teardrop Pallet Rack?

Of all the pallet rack systems, teardrop pallet rack is perhaps the most versatile. As a type of selective racking, it offers immediate access to every piece of inventory in stock, making it ideal for applications in which inventory moves quickly. Seeing teardrop pallet rack in use is as easy as walking into your local big box hardware stores or their distribution centers, where it’s used to store bulk items. Retail inventory rooms and wholesale stores frequently use teardrop pallet rack, as do many general warehousing operations. Teardrop pallet rack is easily assembled, and is relatively cost effective. Because of its versatility and adjustability, teardrop pallet rack can be used in a wide variety of applications, and has become among the most popular rack systems in North America.

If you have questions about teardrop pallet rack that we didn’t answer, let us know. We’d love to hear from you, and our experts will field any of your tough questions and offer their input. You can reach us by phone at 800-722-5908, or by email at We look forward to hearing from you.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Spring Pallet Rack Specials

Product: Selective Pallet Rack

Condition: Used & Factory Closeout

Location: Maple Grove, MN 55369

Pricing: Call 763-493-5015

Cross Beams: 

QTY = 956 - USED Cross Beam Mecalux Teardrop Round - Color Orange, 2.75" High x 96" Long

QTY = 800 - USED Cross Beam Ridg-U-Rak Slotted - Color Orange, 3.5" High x 96.375" Long

QTY = 656 - USED Cross Beam Light Duty Teardrop - Color Lime Green, 3" High x 96" Long

QTY = 366 - USED Cross Beam Teardrop - Color Orange, 3" High x 54" Long

QTY = 288 - USED Cross Beam Teardrop - Color Orange, 3.75" High x 108" Long

QTY = 274 - USED Cross Beam Teardrop Shaved Pin - Color Grey, 5.75" High x 168" Long

QTY = 162 - USED Cross Beam Teardrop Shaved Pin - Color Orange, 4" High x 96" Long

QTY = 150 - USED Cross Beam Teardrop Shaved Pin - Color Orange, 4.25" High x 102" Long

QTY = 150 - USED Cross Beam Teardrop Shaved Pin - Color Orange, 4.25" High x 102" Long

QTY = 393 - NEW FACTORY CLOSEOUT Cross Beam Teardrop 5" High  x 120" Long

QTY = 1,744 - NEW FACTORY CLOSEOUT Cross Beam Teardrop 5.5" High  x 108.375" Long

QTY = 1,032 - NEW FACTORY CLOSEOUT Cross Beam Teardrop 4" High  x 96" Long

QTY = 494 - NEW FACTORY CLOSEOUT Cross Beam Teardrop 4.5" High  x 96" Long

QTY = 406 - NEW FACTORY CLOSEOUT Cross Beam Teardrop 2.5" High  x 96" Long

Upright Frames:

QTY = 158 - USED Upright Frame Ridg-U-Rak Slotted - Color Forest Green, 42" Deep x 240" High

QTY = 27 - USED Upright Frame Interlake Teardrop - Color Green, 48" Deep x 144" High

QTY = 17 - USED Upright Frame Light Duty Bulk - Color Blue, 48" Deep x 96" High

QTY = 9 - USED Upright Frame Teardrop - Color Orange, 36" Deep x 156" High

QTY = 89 - NEW FACTORY CLOSEOUT Upright Frame Teardrop - Color Blue 42" Deep  x 144" High

QTY = 57 - NEW FACTORY CLOSEOUT Upright Frame Teardrop - Color Blue 42" Deep  x 168" High

QTY = 55 - NEW FACTORY CLOSEOUT Upright Frame Teardrop - Color Blue 42" Deep  x 120" High

QTY = 51 - NEW FACTORY CLOSEOUT Upright Frame Teardrop - Color Blue 42" Deep  x 192" High

QTY = 18 - NEW FACTORY CLOSEOUT Upright Frame Teardrop - Color Green 42" Deep  x 144" High

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Using your March Madness Bracket Strategy to find a Pallet Rack Distributor

March Madness

March Madness is in full swing and the big NCAA Basketball Tournament officially begins today. Although Tuesday and Wednesday play host to a couple of play-in games, the true madness begins on Thursday. Starting at 11am, 16 games will be played throughout the course of the day, eliminating 25% of the tournament field. On Friday, the other 32 teams will battle it out and an additional 25% of the tournament field will be sent packing. On Saturday, the 16 winners from Thursday’s games will all play their respective second round match-ups in hopes of making to the Sweet 16. Finally, on Sunday, Friday’s winners will all play their round 2 games, leaving only 16 teams after the final buzzer sounds. In just 4 quick days, 48 teams are eliminated. DONE. Season Over. Now, that’s what you call MADNESS, and it’s exactly what sports fans love.

One of the most exciting events as a sports fan is filling out a March Madness bracket and trying to beat your buddies, co-workers and relatives. Every year I look at my empty bracket with false hope, thinking that I actually know who is going to win and who the National Champion will be. The truth is that college basketball is filled with emotion, strategy, skill and momentum, leaving most of these games up in the air for anyone’s taking. Sure, you’re most likely not going to see a #16 seed take down a #1 seed in the first round, but in round two you may very well see a #2 seed fall to a #7 or #10 seed. So, what does this have to do with finding a pallet rack distributor? Not a whole lot, but I did find at least one connection.


March Madness -- Pallet Rack Style

The main goal of picking a college basketball bracket is to make sure you get the Final Four teams and Champion correct. These four teams will make or break your bracket, so choose carefully. In the same sense, when searching for a pallet rack distributor for your warehouse project, you’ll want to narrow your search to 3 or 4 major businesses that are capable of making the big dance and providing the right products for your needs. In the end, you want to do your due diligence and find the right pallet rack distributor for you and your business. Choosing the incorrect distributor could be harmful to your business, or in March Madness terms, “bust your bracket".


The Strategy

When choosing the top team from each region, you want to research carefully. This is because there are a few specific things to look for in teams that have the best chance of getting to the big dance and winning your office bracket pool.

First and foremost, you want to look at their track record. How did they do in the regular season? How about their conference tournament? Looking at a team’s record will tell you a lot about them. Likewise, when searching for a pallet rack distributor, you want to look for a company that has done business with companies similar to yours in the past. Don’t be afraid to ask for references and see who they’ve already successfully worked with. This will give you great insight into the company, and will verify that they are who they say they are.

Next, you want to look at coaching. What kind of strategy, leadership and reputation does this coach have? Year after year you tend to see the same college basketball coaches coach their teams to the final rounds of the tournament. Why is this? It’s because each of them coaches a school with a tremendous reputation, work ethic and drive to succeed. Finding a pallet rack distributor with great leadership, sound company morals and a positive, well-known online reputation is key. You want to know that the team you are going to work with on this project will do what is best for your business, not just “win at all costs.”

Finally, you want to look at the team. Who are the players you’re putting your trust in to uphold your reputation and pride? Are they a bunch of young, All-American freshman?  Are they experienced seniors who are giving it one last run, or maybe just a well-rounded team that delivers a little of everything? To be honest, I don’t have the knowledge to give you any reliable advice when it comes to NCAA brackets, and I’m not sure there is a right answer as to what kind of team you should pick. What I can tell you, though, is that when choosing the right pallet rack distributor, there is definitely a right answer: a well-rounded team that has the staff and resources to provide you with the best opportunity to succeed. Choosing a one-man band or an inexperienced warehouse designer with limited resources will only hurt your company and project in the long run. The same holds true for choosing a used rack house to “make something work,” which is a clear sign of trouble ahead.

In Summary, make sure to choose +AK Material Handling Systems  for your next Pallet Rack project so you won’t end up with a busted bracket after the first weekend!

Thanks for reading.