warehouse technology

What Is Shuttle Racking, And How Is It Used In Materials Handling?

The Shuttle Racking system is a semi-automated, high-density storage solution for the handling of goods inside channels resembling a drive-in or pallet-flow setup. This form of pallet racking generally uses a self-powered shuttle cart to load and unload the pallets. The shuttle cart runs on rails in the storage lanes and can be easily transported to each lane using a standard forklift. In this compact storage system with shuttle trucks, the shuttle moves loading units within the channel, hence preventing the lift truck from driving into the racking structure. With Shuttle Racking Systems, warehouse operators can easily load and unload goods with the help of an electric carriage called a Pallet Shuttle Cart.

In shuttle systems, a robotic shuttle moves the pallets. It resembles a sled that runs on tracks underneath the beams that hold the pallets. A standard forklift is used to place the shuttle into the rack at any desired height and pallet position. It then places the load on the shuttle.

Pallet Shuttle can be controlled remotely, which makes it a very efficient system as compared to live storage and drive-in racking. However, there is a significant difference in the cost of these systems. The Pallet Shuttle system can work both as First in, First out (FIFO) or as Last in, First out (LIFO). In FIFO systems, pallets are placed into the rack from one side and removed from the opposite side, generally used for facilities such as cold storage, food and beverage production, and meat processing. In LIFO systems, pallets are placed and removed from the rack from the same side.

Advantages of shuttle racking

In shuttle racking, the lift truck does not need to drive into the racking structure. This effectively reduces the handling time, while increasing the storage capacity in depth. The risk of accidents or damage on the racking is also significantly reduced. Additionally, shuttle racking is cost-effective and time-saving, as it eliminates the need for forklift trucks to enter the aisles.

Amongst the many advantages of shuttle racking are high throughput performance during complete filling and emptying of a pallet channel,  collision-free storage and retrieval of pallets, and optimum space utilisation because of low rack compartment height. The racking offers sufficient height and width for multiple pallet channels. The low height utilisation per channel level allows effective use of the available storage height.

Disadvantages of shuttle racking

On the flip side, shuttle systems don’t allow for much selectivity. Simply put, it takes longer to get the pallet you want in shuttle racking, especially if it’s placed in the centre of a tightly-packed rack surrounded by other pallets. Nevertheless, since there’s a robotic shuttle placing the pallet, the time taken to handle the manual trucks is significantly lower, thus providing better operator efficiency. Another disadvantage is the high cost attached to a shuttle racking system.

In conclusion, a shuttle racking system costs more than your usual pallet racking but it’s more effective for handling high amounts of materials. So, facilities with large-scale operations that store large quantities of materials, shuttle racking systems are the ideal storage solution. Click here to know more.