Pipe racking systems are a real market hit. They are like a kind of warehouse Lego blocks. From identical base elements, without the involvement of additional financial resources and people, you can create racks, trolleys and even storage conveyors.
Pipe profiles, fasteners, rails, wheels… these are just some of the elements of pipe racking systems. “You can easily create a storage infrastructure out of them. By using only an Allen key and a pipe cutter, users able to assemble racks, work tables, assembly lines and customised trolleys by themselves,” claim Flexlogic line suppliers.
In Trilogiq, they confirm that potential applications include ergonomic workstations, as well as flow racking systems adapted to FIFO mode (first in, first out).
Pipes are used to build mobile flow racking systems, among other things. In their case, it is particularly important that the structure is not fixed, so that it can be changed at any time according to the Kaizen philosophy. It is, therefore, possible to configure the width, length, height or number of levels.
Dynarax also offers pipe racking systems. The modular X-Lean solution consists of pipes forming structural profiles and various types of connectors, as well as a range of accessories (roller rails, tops, wheels). The connectors allow most of the geometric shapes of the base rack structure to be created. They can also be used to build various types of holders, container handling systems, etc. Roller rails ensure easy access to all stored goods. They allow for quick and easy movement (horizontally or by gravity) of containers or components.
Flow racking systems
Basically, the racking solutions are similar. A typical pipe racking system usually consists of a fixed upper part and a lower part pulled out on wheels. After the conveyor has been unfolded, the roller rails are aligned with a properly selected slope, which allows for free movement of containers from the upper to the lower part. The conveyor and its dimensions are adapted to the needs of individual customers.
This type of racking system is often used in production warehouses, so-called supermarkets, and is responsible for the availability of components and prevention of downtime (supermarkets built with flow racking systems represent a typical solution for lean manufacturing). The solutions are flexible, give a wide range of configuration options, and in essence they are very simple, easy to build or dismantle (e.g. to move from one workplace to another). They can also be easily extended when needed.
Elstar Technik solutions are based on two core modules. The first is a flow rack designed and built to transport and store components in the upper and lower parts. A component placed on the upper part is automatically transported on slanted rollers to the other side. After completing the assembly steps and placing it on the lower part of the conveyor, the transported component returns in the same way. The structure is complemented by a lower shelf which serves as a support. In the second variant, the flow racking system is used for temporary storage of containers with components near the line.
In both cases, the operator does not waste time waiting for delivery, and pipe flow racking systems can provide continuous, direct access to key parts. All you have to do is make sure that the amount of goods on the rack is as much as is currently needed, including a safe buffer stock. The racking system is replenished on a just-in-time basis.
Experts from Masklogik consider the following to be the main factors influencing the final appearance of mobile flow racking systems: the number of components to be accommodated by the system, the dimensions and weight of the containers, and the space available for integration of the system.
Each line is unique and therefore, with regard to supermarket designs, we cannot assume standard solutions in advance. Our projects are simply tailor-made,” say the specialists from Item Polska.
More and more often, future users suggest introducing various types of pneumatic actuators into pipe racking systems, which makes practically every solution, although composed of standard elements, highly customised.
Pipe racking systems provide also conveyors
More and more often storage conveyors are also based on standard elements. The whole structure is based on the elements of pipe racking systems, naturally taking into account the appropriate load capacity required in a given situation. Only rollers constitute an additional element. Their movement is gravitational or forced (power supply). The Graphit system uses lightweight composite connectors in combination with aluminium, steel or carbon fibre pipes.
The supplier assures that in the case of trolleys and carts, with traditional welded structures, engineers need to spend more time designing, modifying, testing and validating the trolleys and carts, while in the case of pipe racking systems, structures are simpler and the vehicles are equally suited to e.g. transport of components.
LeanTek trolleys and carts are adapted to suit the type of industry. For example, some applications require ESD conductivity to remove electrostatic charges, while others need additional protection against dust,” say the company designers.
The solutions proposed by Item Polska, for example, are based on combinations of levers and moving profiles, which enable components to be moved by gravity. Configuration of the pipe profiles of the D30 series is simple, the solutions also use roller guides to ensure direct supply from the racks. Using roller rails, complete automated systems for picking up and putting down containers can be made, e.g. when a transport trolley reaches a given position.
Modular trolleys are perfect for the automotive industry
The advantage of modular carts is their robust structure and effective vibration damping. Such vehicles are used, for example, to transport painted components in the automotive industry. In this case, LeanTek pipes can be wrapped with a removable protective rubber (reducing the risk of possible damage to sensitive components).
Interesting and innovative are the designs combining systems of different types, colours and materials. For example, in a trolley that has recently been developed for the electronics industry, the frame is made in the Graphit system with aluminium pipes, the individual levels are made of covered pipes in various colours and the shelves are made of light and durable plastic.
A separate group of means of transport built on the basis of pipe systems are autonomous guided vehicles (AGVs), naturally equipped with state-of-the-art control systems (including laser), as well as various functional attachments built of pipes.
A new feature is the 3D configurator (Trilogiq), allowing the future user of pipe systems to configure them independently. For example, you can choose the size, number of levels, accessories, colour of the racks or build your own conveyor. The configurator allows you to view the design in 3D or technical projections from all sides.
Photo: Michał Jurczak