The nature of picking is changing and your operations may need to change with it.

With the explosion of ecommerce over the past few years, warehouses that were not set up for picking eaches must find configurations that allow picking . Sometimes this can be costly and time consuming. But there are simple, less expensive solutions to product access, either as a stop-gap, or for the long term.

One of the easiest and most affordable approaches is retrofitting your existing pallet racks to manage the individualized picking required for ecommerce. This can look like manual, semi-automated, or fulling automated picking racks, depending on your requirements and budget.

You can manage the changes quickly, and even change it back later if the changes become no longer needed.  So if you’ve got a busy season coming up that involves more each picking,  the changes  can be a temporary fix. But if you’re trending in the direction of long-term each picking, The changes can be permanent.

The way you accomplish these retrofits can vary, but one easy, first-step option involves converting static pallet racking into a dynamic picking area with flow beds on the bottom level. You can make this change by bolting adapters for hook-in, flow-through frames to the lower area of the rack’s supports. You can adjust the frames in height to suit your needs, and divide them accordingly as well. Remember that before these changes are made the new bay configuration should be approved by the rack design expert.

Generally, the lower levels will operate on plastic roller tracks which can deliver safe and quiet running for both heavy and light items. The buffer ensures there will be little idle time in the mix by providing a method for continuous picking of fast- and mid-moving product. This optimizes your picking processes within an existing pallet rack.

Additionally, by working in a first in/first out (FIFO) configuration, employees can load shelves from one side, and pickers can pick from the other side. This will rapidly increase the pick rate at which workers can operate. It is also an option when products have a limited shelf life, such as food. These systems are also functional within a cooler or refrigerated space.

The upper levels of your rack will remain static, serving as storage for items that can be moved down to the individual flow levels as needed. A big advantage to this set up is time saved—pickers have what they need in one rack, negating the need to walk from one rack to another.

If you determine that the retrofitted racking is a permanent fix, you can also take it to the next level by adding in equipment like storage and retrieval systems to speed up order throughput. Other more automated options include cranes or shuttle systems.

Retrofitting your pallet racking for a more individualized picking operation is a simple, cost-effective and flexible way to keep up with your changing environment. Your racking partner can help you design the right configuration to suit your individual needs.