Shelving for auto parts. This was how, in 1956, the Ferretto Group adventure began. Back then it was called Armes. Over time the name has changed, production has diversified, the company has increasingly focused on automation, but shelving still remains among the products in our catalogue. Even in today's market, shelving - in its various forms: pallet, gravity-fed, drive-in, flow-rail, mobile, cantilever racking systems - remains a solution of choice for many companies from different sectors. Let's see why.
Before going into the details of the solutions, let's take a step back. In logistics there are two strategies which guide the organization of systems and, specifically, the picking operations: Man-to-goods: a system in which the operator goes to the storage area to pick and handle the required product; Goods-to-man: a system where the goods are picked and brought to the operator. Shelving generally responds to the "Man-to-goods" logic, while the "Goods-to man" logic is mainly used in automatic storage systems.
Storage systems are also differentiated by the logic that governs the product storage process. There are two alternatives identified with the acronyms FIFO and LIFO. FIFO stands for First In First Out, that is "the first to enter is the first to exit": this system frees up warehouse stock as the first goods stored are also the first to be picked. This strategy ensures that no goods are left in the warehouse for too long: a fundamental aspect if we think, for example, of companies that work with perishable products or those with an expiration date. LIFO in contrast is the acronym for "Last In First Out" or "the last to enter is the first to exit": this system is less flexible than the previous one and may be suitable as a high density storage solution with large quantities of unit loads that are not perishable and, for example, if outbound material is to be stored subdivided by customer and/or geographical area.
The goal of a logistics system is to guarantee efficiency, functionality and space optimization. There are various ways to achieve this goal, which depend on some strategic factors.
The most important of these are the following:
- Space: the design of a warehouse must start with an evaluation of the available area, meaning the building in terms of dimensions and limitations;
- Degree of selectivity: the characteristics required of storage and handling systems vary according to the number of items and codes, and the high or low storage density;
- Unit loads: the characteristics of the unit loads in terms of weight and dimensions must be taken in consideration. Furthermore, some companies work with boxes (for example in the footwear and pharmaceutical sectors), others with pallets (for example in the large-scale retail and food sectors) and still others with bundles of section bars up to 6 meters long: the structure must allow each type of unit load to be stored easily and safely.
These factors have a decisive influence on the choice to be made as regards both the storage systems and the picking and handling means.