Monday, January 26, 2015

Warehouse Design - Work Platforms

Taking Your Warehouse to the Next Level With Work Platforms

One thing you’re pretty unlikely to hear from most warehouse managers is phrase “There’s too much available space here.”  In the world of warehousing, more space is usually a good thing.  It makes it easier to operate and frees up room for additional productive activities, and holds a number of other potential benefits.  In fact, you’re much more likely to hear the opposite: “We could really use more space, we’re running out of room and have plans for future growth.

At this point, there a number of options, and things can get a little sticky for a company that’s running out of room and looking to expand the amount of work space available in their warehouse.  One option is to lease new space in a building located elsewhere, away from the current warehouse location.  While this can certainly be a viable option, it’s not the most logistically easy move to make.  Another option is to simply build new space to accommodate your growing demands for space.  This too can be a viable option for obtaining additional space in which to work.  Often additional space can be built on to the existing warehouse structure.  Still, building an addition can be expensive, and figuring out how to comply with building codes and complete the addition without halting operations can be challenging.  This brings us to a third option -- one which may not be as immediately apparent as the other two: the work platform.

Work platforms are not automatically a superior choice to the previous two options, but they stand to offer several potential advantages over them.  Perhaps the most obvious of these advantages is the fact that no additional space will need to be leased or built.  The work platform is unique in its ability to fully utilize the unused vertical space present in most warehouses.  Most warehouses are built with relatively high ceilings, and it’s common for this space to go completely unused.  With a work platform, one can essentially add an entire new level to their warehouse, significantly increasing work space.  Another significant advantage to installing a work platform is the ability to expand it as warehouse operations expand.  With a building addition, there is a finite amount of space that is added.  Once that space is used up, another addition will have to be built, or space will have to be leased elsewhere.  If a work platform is installed, it can be expanded as necessary, offering greater flexibility.  Of course, cost is virtually always considered when planning an expansion, and this is yet another area in which work platforms hold a significant advantage.  To be specific, a work platform can double or triple existing warehouse space for as much as 80% less than the cost of an addition.  Eighty percent less cost is nothing to sneeze at, and these savings make the work platform an extremely appealing alternative to building additions or leasing additional space.

If you’re interested in a work platform and want to learn more about them, don’t hesitate to give us a
call at 800-722-5908.

From the AK team, thanks for reading.  We hope you’ll stop back for more information and updates.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Used Pallet Rack Minnesota Call 800-722-5908

At +AK Material Handling Systems, we’ve been known to admit fairly regularly that pallet rack isn’t the flashiest product on the market.  Even sparkling, brand new pallet racking is still a fairly straightforward tool for a very specific purpose.  What’s less flashy than new pallet rack? Used pallet rack.  It’s everything new pallet rack is, but older and previously used.  And that’s just fine.  This blog article, while it may seem like it at first, is not about poking fun at pallet rack.  In fact, we’re proud to provide a product that’s widely used in warehouses across the world and is an integral part of the global supply chain.  What it is about though, is used pallet rack and its potential to provide value for your warehouse,  despite the fact that it doesn’t exactly fall into the “hot new item” category.

Of course, we’re certainly proud of the new pallet rack products we provide.  But, we’re also keenly aware of the value that can be found in utilizing used pallet rack as a storage solution.  As excited as we get about our new racking, the fact of the matter is that used pallet rack is a significantly better fit for many.  Each individual or business is in a unique situation, and, for some, used pallet rack happens to meet their needs perfectly.  That’s why we maintain an excellent selection of used pallet rack in our Maple Grove warehouse.  It’s also why we offer top dollar and trade-in value for your used racking.

If you’ve got used racking and are looking to purchase new racking, AK Material Handling Systems is the place for you.  We’ll work with you to get you the best possible deal for your used rack, whether it comes in the form of money or trade-in value.  Simply on the lookout for used pallet rack?  Again, look no further than AK.  We’ve got an incredible selection of used teardrop pallet rack, as well as names like Speedrack, Paltier, Prest Lock 1&2, Republic, Unarco, Interlake and many more.

If you’re interested in learning more about our used rack selection, how you can go about selling us your used rack or have any other questions, please give us a call or send us an email.  We’d love to help you out.  You can reach us by phone at 800-722-5908, or by email at

Have a great day, and thanks for reading.  We hope you’ll check back with us for more useful tips, information and AK updates.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Warehouse Design - Push Back Pallet Racking

When it comes to making the most efficient use of warehouse space, one of the primary factors to consider is often storage density.  Storage density is an important consideration for a number of reasons.  First, it is generally the case that warehouse managers have a finite amount of space to work with, i.e. the existing warehouse space.      Warehouse space is not easy to come by, and running out of room in any given warehouse typically does not mean that management simply buys more space and continues operations as usual.  Investing in new warehouse space is just that -- an investment -- and it is one that businesses will make only if the pieces are in place and it is a wise business decision.  What usually happens, rather, is the current storage systems in place are reorganized in a way that allows for a more efficient use of the space that is already available.  From a business standpoint, it just makes more sense to maximize the systems already in place than to immediately pursue the development of new ones.  Increasing storage density simply refers to storing more product in less space, and thus can help meet the warehouse manager’s overall goal of maximizing warehouse space.

Pallet Rack Systems to Maximize Storage Density

Of course, there are a variety of ways in which one can go about maximizing their storage density, but that’s a topic for another blog post.  For this post, we’ll focus on pallet rack systems as a means of achieving optimal storage density.  As you might guess, different pallet rack systems have differing levels of storage density.  Just like pallet rack systems vary in design and function, they vary in how much product they’re able to store in a given area.  A pallet flow rack system, for example, will be less dense than a drive-in system.  This brings us to another factor for consideration, however: product flow and efficiency.  A person looking to increase storage density by moving from a pallet flow system to a drive-in system may be disappointed to learn that drive-in systems are first-in, last-out systems, meaning they can only be used in situations with a low number of SKU’s and products that are able to sit in storage for long periods of time.  Naturally, there’s a rack system featuring a combination of high storage density and an ability to produce high product turnover, right?

Push Back Pallet Rack

Of all pallet rack systems, one of the best available combinations of storage density and rapid product turnover belongs to push back pallet rack.  Push back pallet rack systems operate by placing a series of nested carts at a single pallet position.  When a pallet is placed on a cart, it sits at the front of the pallet position until it is pushed backward by a new pallet, which will sit on the cart that was nested beneath.  This system of loading means that push back pallet rack systems are first in, last out pallet rack systems.  However, unlike, say, a drive-in rack system, push back systems are able to retain much of their selectivity and ability to turn over product quickly.  Push back pallet rack systems generally store only up to 5 pallets deep, so a relatively high level of product turnover is easily maintained.  But, the fact that push back systems store pallets 5 deep, as opposed to, for example, 1-pallet-deep selective racking means that storage density is given great priority in push back systems.
For more information on push back pallet rack systems, visit our push back pallet rack page at  There you can read more about the benefits of a push back system, and how the team at AK can custom engineer a push back system for your warehouse.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Maximize Storage Density with Drive-In Rack Systems

How does a warehouse manager make the best possible use of the space he or she has to work with?  If the answer to this question was easy, there would be a lot of people out of a job tomorrow morning.  Like any technical question, there’s a hefty number of factors to consider.  “What are the dimensions of the building?”  “What kind of products are being stored?” “At what rate do these products rotate?” These questions, while important, also lead us to a broader, more overarching question that is at the root of all others: how can I get the most value? 

In the end, maximizing value is what it’s all about.  Virtually every step taken by a given business is done so to either directly or somehow indirectly maximize value for the company.  Trying to maximize the value of a warehouse is no different.  Invariably, the warehouse manager or whomever is in charge of warehouse operations will try to determine the steps that will, in the long run, support the welfare of the company.  In all likelihood, one of factors that will be considered will be the material handling systems in place in the warehouse, such as the pallet rack system(s).  Once again, questions will arise -- “How much will it cost to install a new system?” “How well will this racking let us utilize the available storage space?”  “Will we need any new equipment?”  On the AK Material Handling Blog, we’ve got a lot of material covering questions like these.  Needless to say, there are certain rack systems that present “value” in some of its traditional forms.  Take, for example, drive-in rack systems.

Drive-in rack systems certainly aren’t for every warehouse -- far from it.  Drive-in systems consist of upright frames and loading rails, as opposed to cross beams.  This allows forklift operators to drive into the system itself.  In most drive-in rack systems, pallets can be stored as many as 10 deep.  However, this also means that the pallets that were first loaded into the system will be difficult to access because there will be so many other loads closer to the loading bay that would have to be moved.  Because of this, drive-in rack systems need to store like-product.  In addition, these products cannot be time-sensitive.  The first pallets in will be the last ones out, so they have to be able to stay a while.  Despite these requirements, there is a lot of value to be gained from drive-in rack systems for those whose warehouses fit the above criteria.

For one, drive-in systems are a relatively low cost means of storage.  It probably won’t be necessary to delve into the obvious appeal of lower costs here.  Drive-in rack systems also feature enhanced rigidity when compared to many of their other rack system counterparts.  That’s a good thing, because driving a forklift into the rack system might otherwise present a safety hazard (it is still important to pay particular attention to the health of the drive-in rack system because of this factor).  Where drive-in rack systems truly offer value, though, is in the storage density that can be achieved through their use.  Because pallets are stored back-to-back in drive-in systems, the majority of access aisles can be eliminated.  Floor space that would have otherwise been dedicated to aisles is now occupied by several pallets of product.  Thus better, more efficient use of warehouse space is made, and additional floor space is opened up in the warehouse, potentially eliminating the need to for expansion.  Herein lies the most significant value offering from drive-in pallet rack systems.
No, drive-in rack is not for every warehouse.  But neither is any other pallet rack system.  Each engineered rack system has its strengths and weaknesses.  Drive-in rack has poor selectivity, and requires that time-insensitive, like-products be stored within it.  Its strengths, however, are that it is inexpensive, sturdy and, most importantly, allows for maximum warehouse space utilization.  These strengths have a lot of potential positive implications, and should be given consideration when evaluating which rack system might bring the most value for a given warehouse.

If you are interested in budgetary numbers for a Drive-In Pallet Rack in your warehouse or if you are interest in more information on Drive In Pallet Storage Systems use this request form and we will be happy to help you.

Thanks for reading - we’ll keep you posted with more useful information bits and AK updates.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

New Pallet Rack Systems: An Investment in the Future

New Pallet Rack Systems: An Investment in the Future

There are two primary ways in which one can think about the pallet racking they use in their warehouse.  One of these two ways of thinking about pallet rack is to think of it as a nuisance expense.  Pallet racking, when thought of through this frame of mind, is simply an inconvenient necessity; a means to an end.  Where you purchase your pallet racking, if you adhere to this line of thinking, really doesn’t matter.  As long as it seems to be in relatively decent shape, looks serviceable and is available at a good price, it’ll do the job.  No matter if you have to replace it in a few years.  You can simply buy more from the same auction or other random source you found the last racking at. 

Then, there’s the other way of thinking about pallet rack.  The second of the two ways of thinking about your warehouse racking is to think of it as an investment in the future.  Pallet racking, when thought of this way, is not a nuisance expense, but rather a key tool in the long-term success of your storage and warehouse logistics strategies.  When looking at pallet rack this way, it is natural to want the best racking available to fit these long-term strategies and the needs of your warehouse.  It doesn’t have to be the most expensive racking money can buy, it simply has to be a high quality product that will withstand the rigors of the warehouse for years to come while continuing to perform the duties it’s designed for.

If you adhere to the latter of these two pallet rack philosophies, you’re on the same wavelength as those of us at AK Material Handling Systems.  One of the things we pride ourselves on most is providing quality and value.  Whether it’s in the form of new pallet rack, custom engineered pallet rack systems or warehouse layout and design,  we want our rack to work for you, the way you need it to.  We make sure that happens in a number of ways.  One of these ways is by using the expertise of our systems design specialists to ensure you’re getting exactly what you need.  Unless you yourself are an expert, you’ll be dealing in guesswork if you choose not to consult a professional before installing a new pallet rack system.  Guesswork might be the way to go if you’re not overly concerned about the performance of your racking, but if you’re serious about your pallet rack, you’ll want to know exactly what you need in terms of size, capacity and brand.  Another way in which we commit to providing quality and value is by outfitting our customers with only high quality pallet rack products, whether new or used.  Because we believe in the importance of a safe, productive warehouse, we believe in the quality of the products we sell.  The internet is expansive, and there are probably places where you can find cheaper rack than at AK Material Handling.  However, you very well might find yourself paying the price in the long run as you find out your pallet racking is questionable in quality or doesn’t really fit the needs of your warehouse or the goals of your business.

If you’re in search of pallet rack and you’re serious about getting it right the first time, get in touch with a material handling outfitter that feels the same way.  It’s what we’re passionate about, and we’d be more than happy to help you with any questions you might have.  Give us a call at 800-722-5908 or email us at  We look forward to hearing from you. 
As always, thanks for taking the time to read.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Utilizing Pallet Flow Rack Systems to Your Advantage

In today’s warehousing world, much of the conversation is centered on improving efficiency by any means available.  This comes as no particular surprise, as improving efficiency, of course, will often boost a company’s bottom line, and the exponential growth of technology means we have more resources than ever at our disposal in the fight against wasted resources.  Warehouse operating software, as an example, promises to make for more cost-effective and productive warehouse operations.  Thought leaders tell us we must integrate data collection and analysis into warehouse operations in order to provide a basis upon how we make decisions regarding what needs to be improved and what’s doing better than we thought.  Technological improvements and other flashy innovation is leading and will continue to lead to massive overhauls and improvements in the way warehouses across the world do what they do. 

However, there’s also the nitty-gritty side of making your warehouse more efficient.  This side of things deals with the physical changes that need to take place in order to make a warehouse and business more efficient.  Examples include reducing the number of times loads are touched, making better use of warehouse space, and utilizing an engbang-for-your-buck” that your warehouse gets, you’ll want to employ the most efficient pallet rack system you can for your particular business model.

The type of pallet rack system that best fits a particular warehouse and business depends largely on the type of product that moves through that warehouse.  Storing landscaping materials, such as bricks or cinder blocks? These products can sit in storage for years without going bad, and there’s a good chance they’ll be stored in large bulk quantities.  You’d likely be best served by a drive-in rack system, which has a very high storage density, but often requires materials to be stored in the warehouse for extended periods of time.  If yours is like innumerable warehouses across the world and has goods that are perishable or move quickly through the warehouse, however, you’d benefit more from implementing a flow rack system.  From here, the type of flow rack you’ll install will depend on the logistics of your warehouse.  If you plan to move individual cartons with your flow rack system, you’ll likely install carton flow storage racks.  If, however, you plan to get entire pallet loads flowing, you’ll probably install a pallet flow rack system.
ineered pallet rack system that best suits the company’s needs.  As a material handling outfitter and designer of custom engineered pallet rack systems, we’re acutely aware of the importance of the latter.  In order to truly maximize the “

Pallet flow rack systems act as a sort of pallet conveyor for your warehouse.  In a pallet flow rack system, pallets are loaded on one side of the system and unloaded from the other, making for a first in, first out inventory flow.  Pallet rack flow systems offer a number of advantages in the ongoing battle against inefficiency.  First, pallet flow systems provide a space-saving, high-density solution to your storage needs.  Warehouses that formerly stacked pallets on the warehouse floor experience a dramatic increase in available space as a result of making more efficient use of space.  Next, pallet flow rack systems get inventory moving -- pallets are loaded from one side and picked from the other, while the rest of the work is done by heavy-duty rollers.  This has the potential to save both time and labor.  Pallet flow rack systems also save time by offering immediate access to every product stored on the system, meaning you won’t have to pull any pallets simply to gain access to other pallets.  These rack systems require minimum maintenance as well, meaning you’ll spend less of your precious time working on your rack system and more of it making your rack system work for you.

The process of increasing efficiency is a never ending one.  There will always be new steps, new technology, and new strategies.  It’s always important, though, to keep the basics in mind.  Before looking to the latest and greatest, remember to ensure you’ve got the most efficient pallet rack system, such as pallet flow rack, installed and working to help you meet your needs.

Thanks for reading, and remember to check back with the AK Material Handling Blog for more helpful information and updates.

If you are interested in budgetary numbers for a flow rack in your warehouse or if you are interest in more information on Pallet Flow Rack Systems use this request form and we will be happy to help you.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Miner’s Project -- an Update from Duluth, MN

It was Mid November that we started the installation of our exciting ongoing project in Duluth, Minnesota supplying and outfitting Miner’s, Inc with brand new pallet rack.  Because it’s been a little while since then, we’ll provide a quick refresher.  Our project for Miner’s Inc. has three major stages.  The first stage consists of providing and installing pallet rack in Miners’ new 85,000+ square foot warehouse, an addition that essentially doubled the company’s existing warehouse space.

Since we last checked in,  our install team has made significant headway, nearing completion of pallet rack installation for the new Miner’s warehouse addition.  The team is working hard, progressing steadily each day toward the end goal of two warehouses equipped with brand new, high quality pallet rack to meet the demands of a busy food distribution center.  Within the next week or two, the team will begin the process of taking down the old racking and installing new racking in the existing warehouse.  As pallet rack installation in the new warehouse edges closer to completion, Miner’s continues to be able to supply their supermarkets with product, already  able to make use of the new racking we’ve installed.  In approximately a month’s time, the entirety of the project will be nearing completion, and Miner’s will have over 160,000 square feet of warehouse space with sparkling new Steel King rack.

When the project is complete, we will do another feature blog, highlighting the various aspects of the project and doing an overall recap.  Until then, stay tuned for more informative content.

As always, thanks for taking the time to read.

  The next stage involves tearing down the old racking in the existing warehouse while simultaneously installing the new racking.  Because the Miner’s warehouse complex is a food distribution center for 31 supermarkets in the upper midwest, the rack installation needs to be carried out without disruption to the steady supply of product flowing from the warehouse.  Fortunately, we were able to work with Miner’s to develop a strategy to do exactly that, and so far the plan has been executed without a hitch.

By: +Dave Sewich