A leading international wholesale distributor that provides quality products at competitive prices, Fair Market Inc. requires extensive storage space to keep its products cold and fresh. With its corporate headquarters and main warehouse located in Wentzville, MO, Fair Market can efficiently ship products anywhere in the United States from its centrally located facility.
Fair Market required a cold-storage rack system that could withstand harsh, frigid temperatures, and still provide smooth and even pallet movement. The cold storage system required two separate rack installations, one for a dry storage area and another for a freezer.
Fair Market’s previous cold storage installations had pallet flow lanes with steel skate wheels, which had a tendency to freeze over and stick, preventing pallets from safely flowing down the rack system. Fair Market needed a rugged, high-performance cold-storage rack system that would maximize storage space and increase productivity, while providing a safe working environment.
The cold temperatures made the storage rack design more challenging, as the pallets needed to move smoothly and evenly to ensure safe pallet flow speed despite the cold air and icy buildup that could accumulate on the pallets and the rack system. Only components that could not only stand up to cold temperatures, but also fluctuating temperatures, could be used in the design, as freezer temperatures are adjusted to precise temperatures to properly store products.
In addition, Interroll could not duplicate the cold environment to test its flow lanes under conditions similar to those in the freezer, and therefore could not designate the slope of the lanes until installation. With the cold temperatures affecting the speed at which pallets would flow on the polycarbonate wheels of the flow lanes, it was essential that the storage system design enable the slope of the lanes to be easily adjusted during installation to ensure smooth and safe pallet movement.
Interroll and its integrator partner, Heubel Material Handling, installed a 2,400-position pallet flow system that provided 1,920 positions in the freezer and 480 positions in a dry storage area. The 600-lane pallet flow system is four pallets deep (480 lanes in freezer and 120 lanes in dry storage area) and features three tracks per lane to appropriately support the pallets that can weigh from 1,300 to 2,200 pounds.
The new pallet flow system is designed with a steeper slope to give gravity a better opportunity to let the pallets flow freely down to the picking station. The steep incline requires each lane to have speed controllers that slow the pallets down to the safe rate of travel of approximately 50 FPM.
“Speed controllers typically have two soft rubber rollers that the pallet presses down as it passes by in order to slow it down. These rollers typically sit 1/4 inch higher than the wheels. In the temperatures of a freezer environment, the rubber gets very hard, and if the rollers are 1/4 inch higher than the wheels, the brakes can stop pallets rather than control their speed as they pass by. To promote flowability, and not destroy the brakes, we mounted the brakes in a special bracket that sits lower in track, so that they are only about 1/8 inch above the wheels,” says David Akin, Midwest Regional Sales Manager at Interroll.
The pallet flow system has double staggered 2.88-inch (dia.) polycarbonate wheels that deform and reform with impact. They are more durable than conventional steel skate wheels, and their larger diameter promotes better flowability so they provide higher productivity, safer operation, lower maintenance costs and lower overall price of ownership.