A Very Cool Flow Rack?

BRL005_NDES_Flow_Rack – Bosch Rexroth Corp.

I’m sure most lean practioners have used flow racks for material storage, part presentation, and/or kanban systems.

Here is a rack that has something new (at least to me). The rack (large picture here) has color-coded rollers (red, yellow, green) that can be used as visual controls for re-order points, min/max levels, etc.

It looks cool. I was initially excited about this, but now I’m trying to weigh the pro’s and con’s of this style rack.

Pro’s:

  • It can be tough sometimes to mark visual controls on a flow rack, you can use tape along a rail, vertical posts, etc. This gives you a pretty unambiguous signal that won’t fall off, fall down, unpeel, etc.
  • The rails look pretty easy to adjust/move left and right, to adjust for different sized boxes.

Potential Con’s:

  • The wheels might not be easy to change out. When your re-order point changes, you have to A) remove all of your boxes from the rack and B) pop out wheels and pop in different colored ones to change the visual control.
  • It might be hard to see the rollers (and hence the colors and the visual control indicators) when boxes are on top of them.
  • Might be more expensive than a regular flow rack.

Has anyone experimented with this? How do you view the tradeoffs of this? Click “Comments” to weigh in.

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Mark Graban's passion is creating a better, safer, more cost effective healthcare system for patients and better workplaces for all. Mark is a consultant, author, and speaker in the "Lean healthcare" methodology. He is author of the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, as well as The Executive Guide to Healthcare Kaizen. His most recent project is an eBook titled Practicing Lean that benefits the Louise H. Batz Patient Safety Foundation, where Mark is a board member. Mark is also the VP of Improvement & Innovation Services for the technology company KaiNexus.

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4 Comments on "A Very Cool Flow Rack?"

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  1. Chet Frame says:

    We used this type of racking in a healthcare product application. The color of the wheels is a small problem. The number of rails of wheels is a larger problem. If they do not have lock downs to hold them in place and you are only using two rails per tote, they shift when someone is loading or unloading the rack and ultimately, the other boxes shift and you have parts on the floor.

    I have noticed in GM plants that the container return, shown on the bottom in this photo, is on the top. It is easier to lift the empty higher and the person reloading from the aisle has an ergonomically easier time getting the empty off without bending down to the floor level.

  2. Anonymous says:

    THE LEAN RACK YOU’RE TALKING ABOUT IS PART OF A SYSTEM THAT WILL ALLOW YOU TO CUSTOM DESIGN RACKS IN AN ALMOST LIMITLESS VARIETY OF CONFIGURATIONS.

    THE ROLLERS CAN BE CHANGED BY REMOVING THE TRACKS END STOP AND SIMPLY SLIPPING OUT THE ROLLER HOLDER AND SWAP OUT THE ROLLERS.

    ITS AVAILABLE FROM BOSCH REXROTH CORPORATION

    ROLLERS ARE AVAILABLE WITH A FLANGE VISABLE FROM THE SIDE. THE BOX DOES NOT OBSCURE THE ROLLER

  3. Anonymous says:

    This system is great. The comment about moving rails is simply not true. The rail stops have through holes that allow you to use a screw to lock the rails in place.

    Normally, the friction fit of the rails is sufficient to hold them unless they are going to be “abused” significantly.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Another solution to the sliding rails problem has been found by the guys at T-flow.com, go check it out.
    I helped set up one of their racks recently, track changeout is fairly easy, no tools needed, and lanes with 3 rails were easily holding 100+ lbs. Modular system that sets up quick.

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