Very Narrow Aisle Pallet Racking

Maximize Floor Space with VNA Rack

Pallet racking, including the aisles, can take up to 80% of a warehouse’s available floor space–that’s why maximizing storage is as much about the aisles as the rack itself.

What is very narrow aisle pallet racking?

Very narrow aisle pallet racking, known in the industry as VNA Rack, is pretty much just what you would think. The aisles are greatly reduced by as much as 50% and pallets are stored and retrieved using a special side loading lift vehicle. Conventional aisles are at least 12′ or wider and regular narrow aisles are about 8′ to 10′ wide. But very narrow aisles can have aisle widths as narrow as 5.5′ and a VNA system can allow you to store up to 50% more product in the same space. [fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][caption id="attachment_7315" align="alignnone" width="825"]Very Narrow Aisle Pallet Rack can reduce aisle space by up to 50% Very Narrow Aisle Pallet Rack can reduce aisle space by up to 50%[/caption]  

Guidance Systems for VNA Rack

Though very narrow aisle rack refers more to the layout of the selective pallet rack than to the rack itself, guidance systems (rail or wire) are often used to optimize speed and reduce product, rack and vehicle damage.  Guidance systems can improve productivity by freeing the operator to concentrate on lifting and direction rather than steering.

Rail Guidance

With a rail guided system, the lift vehicle travels between rails mounted on both sides of the aisle at the base of the rack. Guide rollers mounted on the sides of the lift vehicle mechanically control the vehicle travel path within the aisle.

Wire Guidance

With a wire guided system, a wire is buried in a groove in the center of the aisle floor. The wire produces a magnetic field which steers the progress of the truck. The steering is completely automatic when the vehicle is locked on the wire.

VNA Lift Vehicles

The type of narrow-aisle lift vehicle to select depends on how it will be used. The main types of vehicles designed to maneuver in VNA systems are articulated counterbalanced forklifts, turret trucks and order-pickers.

Articulated Forklifts

[/fusion_builder_column][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][caption id="attachment_7303" align="aligncenter" width="432"]Flexi Very Narrow Aisle Forklift–Artiiculated Counterbalanced Forklift The Flexi VNA articulated forklift is designed to work in an aisle as narrow as 3′ plus the depth of the pallet. Photo credit: Narrow Aisle, Inc.[/caption] An articulated counterbalanced forklift is a hybrid VNA truck. Like a regular counterbalanced forklift, it can load and offload trailers, but it also has an articulating fork carriage that pivots sideways to load and retrieve pallets in a very narrow aisle–only the carriage turns sideways, not the entire truck.These articulated forklifts are increasingly able to compete with turret trucks in terms of pallet storage density, lift heights and pallet throughput, while also being capable of loading and offloading trailers. The Flexi, pictured above, is capable of picking both sides of the aisle from either direction, can load and offload trailers and is priced comparable to a conventional forklift.

Turret Trucks

  [/fusion_builder_column][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][caption id="attachment_7321" align="aligncenter" width="340"]In this "man up" turret truck, the operator sits within the carriage and has a clear and accurate view of the pallet handling process. In this “man up” turret truck, the operator sits within the carriage and has a clear and accurate view of the pallet handling process.[/caption] Turret trucks are designed specifically to operate in very narrow aisles for high volume applications. That is the one and only job of a turret truck–they aren’t capable of loading and offloading trailers. The forks are mounted on an additional mast that can rotate 90 degrees in either direction, allowing access to both sides of the racking aisle. The turret truck does require a very flat and level floor to operate smoothly. The flatter the floor, the faster the turret truck can operate for higher productivity. Turret trucks are available in “man up” or  “man down” configurations and it is generally recommended to use these trucks with a guidance system. They are the fastest option in terms of load handling per hour and have the highest reach, but are significantly more expensive than articulated forklifts. But in spite of the extra upfront costs, the ROI can be high, especially in areas where land is very expensive or the cost of warehousing (such as cold storage) is premium.

VNA Order Picking Truck

[/fusion_builder_column][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="351"]A VNA order-picker is common in large distribution centers. A VNA order-picker is common in large distribution centers.[/caption] This lift vehicle, commonly called an “Order Picker,” is similar to the turret truck, except the operator and the controls are in a cage welded to the fork carriage. The operator wears a specially designed safety harness to prevent falls. The operator places the load on the pallet one article at a time. This is an efficient method for picking less than pallet load quantities and is common in many distribution centers.

Conclusion

You can definitely optimize your storage capacity by going narrower (and higher) but to determine if a very narrow aisle system will maximize your profits, you will need to balance the space savings against any possible losses in productivity. You may find that a combination of aisle widths (to accommodate faster moving products as well as slower moving products) is the best storage solution for ideal space and cost efficiency. Next Level manufactures VNA rack systems. Contact us for more information!
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