March 4 MHI Tech Talk Explores Integrating Racks With Automation

Pallet racking systems are virtually ubiquitous in warehouses, distribution centers, and fulfillment operations worldwide. Automation, on the other hand, is less so. Yet, with the persistent shortage of available workers, more of these facilities are evaluating automated solutions. Prior to doing so, however, it is important to consider how the storage rack and automation will work together to yield the optimal results. Those seeking insights into this topic won’t want to miss the next MHI Supply Chain Tech Talk, which explores integrating racks with automation.

Presented online and free to attend, the Tech Talk is co-hosted by members of the Rack Manufacturers Institute (RMI) and the Automated Storage and Retrieval Systems (ASRS) industry groups. The session, “Pallet Racking Systems and Designs for an Automated Future,” will broadcast on Monday, March 4, from 1:00 – 1:30 p.m. eastern time; advance registration required.

Learn Best Practices for Integrating Racks with Automation

The RMI/ASRS Tech Talk will cover some of the hottest topics in pallet racking designs, automation trends, and more. It features three contributors:

  • Panelist Arthur Fendel, Vice President of Sales and Engineering at STOW, a member of both RMI and ASRS industry groups.
  • Panelist John Schmidt, CEO of RMI member Rack Builders.
  • Moderator Jonathan Hirst, Vice President and General Manager of RMI member North American Storage Equipment.

“Optimizing an operation in the current market means automation,” said Hirst. “Therefore, this Tech Talk will explore how different automation technologies integrate with racking for inventory storage and handling.”

The presentation will share timely, useful information about integrating racks with different types of goods-to-person automation, he continued. “These can include shuttle- and crane- based ASRS that travel within and between racking structures to extract stored items for presentation to pickers at workstations. It can also include autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) and automatic guided vehicles (AGVs).

“Regardless of the type of automation they’re considering, viewers will learn how to adapt their operations’ existing and future rack installations for deployment success,” Hirst added.

Successful Integration of Pallet Rack and Automation

The trio’s Tech Talk will also detail trends in rack system designs as manufacturers develop solutions that meet automation’s specific needs. A review of benefits, challenges, and smart design considerations will help participants smoothly and efficiently introduce automation in their facilities.

“Automating a warehouse starts with understanding the different options in managing workflow through the facility,” noted Hirst. “We’ll share information to help participants evaluate their options more effectively when integrating racks with automation.”

Successfully building a scalable workflow in an operation requires an understanding of different racking types and how they complement each other, Schmidt said.

“There are many different types of pallet racks. Each has its own advantages, disadvantages, and unique features,” he added. “Selecting the wrong racking for your specific needs — including automation — can have serious financial implications.”

For instance, Schmidt continued, choosing a rack based on the lowest initial cost can result in unchecked expenses. “These can include operational inefficiencies, excessive repairs, and unnecessary overhead. Tech Talk attendees will learn more about how to specify the right storage system.”

“For operations that already have a racking solution in place, integrating racks with automation is absolutely possible,” Fendel added. “To do so, however, usually requires alterations to adapt travel paths and separate the automation from associates. In the Tech Talk, we’ll explore some of those approaches.”

How to Register for the RMI/ASRS Tech Talk

Registration for the March 4 MHI Supply Chain Tech Talk, “Pallet Racking Systems and Designs for an Automated Future,” is available here. For more information about planning a rack installation, RMI offers the publication, “Considerations for the Planning and Use of Industrial Steel Storage Racks.” Additionally, the members of RMI are available for consultations, insights, and recommendations. Visit for additional details.

For more information about the AS/RS group:

For further articles from the Automated Storage/Retrieval Systems (AS/RS):

Is a VLM Right for Your Operations?

Understanding ASRS Software Integration

ASRS Is Perfect For Social Distancing

Podcast: How Does An ASRS Solution Differ And Complement AMRs/AGVs?

ASRS As A Solution To The Labor Shortage

Using ASRS To Offset The Labor Shortage

Lights Out: The Role Of ASRS