Flow racks are an important but under considered piece of equipment. They present product clearly, enable small box packaging, and support pull and FIFO systems. Good flow racks can have huge benefits in safety, productivity, and delivery. Here are the major things you should look for when purchasing flow racks:
There is no one-size-fits-all solution in manufacturing because your processes are unique to your organization—even if you’re making something that someone else is making. So don’t let someone sell you a generic flow rack that’s not customized to your process and the materials it will be flowing. A good flow rack can accommodate your specific materials to support what your process needs, whether it is over-the-line delivery or unpackaged part presentation to operators.
Production needs change constantly – volume, line balancing, product mix. Your flow racks should be able to accommodate those changes quickly, whether that means reduced width, additional lanes, or different materials to flow. Look for flow racks with construction that allows for change, such as tube and joint construction, which you can easily right size with a few simple tools.
The most effective continuous improvement is done quickly by the people doing the work. If you want this continuous improvement to happen and see results, your plant equipment needs to be flexible with reusable components. When a rack is no longer needed, it should either be changed and repurposed or disassembled into parts to be used in another design without having to buy something new. Here’s another instance where tube and joint construction is a good option; tubes and joints can be disassembled and reused in new applications very easily, and kept as inventory for when the need arises.
Operator ergonomics is a crucial part of employee safety, as repetitive use injuries are common in manufacturing, as well as cross training. One-size-fits-all flow racks often fit nobody well and hamper cross training efforts because operators are naturally different sizes. Keeping all product in the ergonomic golden zone makes everything easy to reach for all people.
Fixtures and equipment can take a beating on the production floor and suffer from the wear and tear of daily use. Some companies still weld their flow rack structures, which can seem cheap on the front end, but any damage requires substantial rework and they are not flexible when changes are needed. Make sure that you purchase flow racks that won’t become obsolete or unserviceable. You can do this by ensuring that there are easily obtainable replacement parts and that the company you purchase the racks from can provide service, should you ever need it.
If you’re in need of custom, adaptable flow racks for your operations, contact us to schedule a design meeting. We work with you to design flow racks that best meet your needs, and we will help you implement them in your facility with support service once they are in use.