Two Options For Securing The Ledges Of Multi-Deep Pallet Flow Lanes In Pick Modules
High volume picking operations often deploy pick modules to maximize their productive square footage. By feeding two to four pallets of product on rails equipped with rollers that rest upon the rack structure’s decking, these multi-deep pallet flow lanes allow operators to pick from more than one pallet at the same time, increasing their throughput.
However, in order for pallets to be fed into the system, there must be an opening on the aisle-side ledge to permit forklift access. There is the potential, however, for openings to be left unsecured by guarding (also called handrail) or other protective device (and some facilities don’t even run decking all the way to the ledge, leaving as much as a 48-inch deep opening underfoot). Both situations put operators at risk for injury or falls should they approach the ledge for whatever reason, including picking from a pallet closer to the aisle, adjusting a skewed pallet load or retrieving a fallen carton.
For operations seeking to secure the ledges of multi-deep pallet flow lanes, the members of the Protective Guarding Manufacturers Association (ProGMA) offer two types of protective devices:
- Saloon-Door Style Swinging Gates: Positioned at the aisle-side ledge opening and bolted into the rack’s upright columns on either side of the access point, these two-piece barriers swing only in one direction as the palletload is pushed through them. The pallet itself pushes the barrier open; once it clears the gate, the two sides swing closed. Integrated stops prevent the gates from swinging out into the aisle, thus preventing an operator from falling through the opening.
For wider pallet bays that accommodate two pallet flow lanes and an aisle in between that permits associates to pick from all the pallets in the lane, two sets of swinging gates with an additional guardrail barrier placed between them can be configured.
- Dual Gate Barriers: These systems incorporate two interconnected protective barriers—one at the ledge opening where pallets are placed, the other at the associate side of the pallet flow lane. When one side of the gate is down to prevent access to the pallet opening, the other side is up to allow access. This prevents a worker from entering an open bay when pallets are being loaded; conversely, it prevents pallet loading when workers are picking within the area.
Dual gate systems can be designed as a single-piece, welded unit, or as two separate gates that slide up and down on a rail; both styles create a visual and physical barrier that protects associates working within pick modules. They can be installed in both pallet bays and empty pallet return areas in a pick module. Installation options include manual (push/pull), semi-automatic (push button) or fully automated (triggered by sensors) operation. For additional product fall protection, the gates can be further enhanced with devices such as netting or wire mesh.
Although both types of protective barriers are available as a retrofit for an existing multi-deep pallet flow pick module, the optimal and most cost-effective time to add either system is during the initial design phase. This ensures that the completed structure will accommodate obstacles such as conduit or sprinkler heads, or obstructions such as building columns.
Looking for additional information about other types of protective barriers? Visit ProGMA’s section of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs), here.