More and more goods distribution center operators are relying on the automatization of their flow of materials. A key element of this strategy is highly efficient flow storage, which can be used to transfer up to 200 pallets per hour.  

The food and beverage industry in particular is well acquainted with this problem: A high volume of palleted goods needs to be stored fast, buffered intelligently, and removed from the warehouse again at top speed - and this must be cost-efficient, safe, and with the flexibility necessary for seasonal power surges. Modern flow storage provides the benefits of speed, capacity, availability, and industrial safety - and at economical operating costs. This is why the leading food and beverage companies of today use Interroll’s highly efficient flow storage solutions that make it possible to transfer up to 200 pallets per hour from a warehouse. For other customers, flow storage ensures a full turnover of about 5,000 pallet storage slots in just two to four days.  

Designed for the most diverse automatization concepts

Interroll’s flow storage can be set up as a FIFO (first in - first out) or LIFO (last in - first out) system and is compatible for use with a wide array of automatization concepts, such as driverless transport, racking interfaces, displacement paths, and electric overhead conveyors. As an essential part of dynamic buffering and dispatch management, a flow storage system works flexibly with a broad range of automation technologies. Therefore even existing manual Interroll flow storage systems can be integrated into partial or fully automated material flow solutions without much effort.  

Our automated flow storage manages the highest turnover volumes, reduces forklift use to the bare minimum necessary, and increases turnover speed. From filling a bottle to transporting it out of the warehouse on a pallet and into a freight car, the entire process is calculated to take only twelve minutes,

said Pascal Collaud, logistics manager of Pearlwater Mineralquellen AG in Termen (Switzerland). By now, over a hundred users of note around the world, including EuroSpin and Jaguar Land Rover, rely on similar solutions.  

Flow storage is based on the principle of inclined planes: Pallets and packages are stacked in flow channels comprised of roller track modules arranged in a line, one after the other. Since this is mounted at a 4% incline, goods move automatically from the point of loading to the unloading point, due to gravitational force. In contrast to radio shuttle solutions, lifting and moving the pallets using a suitable transport unit thus becomes redundant. This helps to lower energy costs, and to avoid complexity that may be prone to failure and additional work processes. 

Compact, efficient, and productive

The resultant savings mount up in correlation to the number of storage slots and turnover speed. Significantly shorter transportation routes play a big roll here. These are largely a result of the special compact design of the flow storage system - compared to conventional solutions, it takes up less space by up to 50%.  

In addition, the paths that transport vehicles like forklifts have to take back into the warehouse are shorter by up to 80% in comparison with classic pallet storages. Along with a faster clearance of goods, these systems can operate for longer before reaching their performance limits when working to meet orders during seasonal peak periods - for example, if a larger number of forklifts are obstructing each other in areas of traffic. The reduced volume of traffic in the warehouse allows for a reduction in risk of work accidents and damage to the goods. 

Interroll has equipped the canals with what is known as a “safety separator,” which ensures that after a pallet is removed, the next one doesn’t move to the unloading point until after a certain time delay.
Interroll has equipped the canals with what is known as a “safety separator,” which ensures that after a pallet is removed, the next one doesn’t move to the unloading point until after a certain time delay.

Maximum safety and error-free operation

Even the flow storage channels themselves were designed to prioritize maximum safety and error-free operation. Interroll has equipped the canals with what is known as a “safety separator,” which ensures that after a pallet is removed, the next one doesn’t move to the unloading point until after a certain time delay. The safety separator can handle all standard pallet weights and sizes (60-1,250 kilos; 600-1,200 mm depth). Magnetic speed controllers also limit the movement of the pallets within the flow channel to a maximum of 0.3 meters per second. The safety separators as well as the magnetic speed controller do not require a power supply, and can run for many years without maintenance.  

Studies confirm cost advantages

If factors such as space requirement, staff expenses, and number of forklift trucks needed are considered, the relative cost of a flow storage system per storage slot per month is extremely reasonable. Respective investments have generally paid off after less than two years, which has also been confirmed by multiple scientific studies.  

Safe costs in the long run: with flow storage systems

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