The Brewers Association reports that 85 percent of Americans now live within 10 miles of a brewery, with over 7,000 breweries in existence across the country. The craft beer business will continue to grow this year and beyond. With this growth, distribution centers need a better way to handle beer kegs, which can be taxing on an operation in many ways. They are heavy and shaped awkwardly, making them liable to tip over.
Often, distributors will store them on the floor, which means order pickers have to bend and lift the heavy keg. A few years ago, UNEX introduced Keg-Flow as a customized design using Span-Track that could handle keg storage. Keg-Flow offers an alternative to palletized keg storage by storing 1/6 kegs in a manner similar to storing cases on flow rack. The original design included a newly designed roller that could withstand the extra weight. UNEX uses a 1 3/8-in. diameter steel rollers that are strong enough to support kegs without bending. UNEX engineers also designed a custom hanger to slow the keg down on the track and a high roller stop at the end to keep the keg from toppling over.
In January of this year, the compnay upgraded the Keg-Flow to incorporate 6-in. high guards for the 24-in. tall by 9-in. and 11-in. diameter kegs, to give them more stability on the racks. UNEX developed common guard rails on the tracks to save more than 40 percent of the material in a typical 8-ft wide bay, over guards on both sides. A high-end roller stop in the guard rail was added so that the keg does not tip over, plus this make it easier to pull the keg on a rolling surface.
The tracks have also been made more versatile — 11.75-in. wide tracks allow storage of eight kegs of 9- or 11-in. diameters on a 96-in. wide beam. The track features a notched design, so it fits any type of beam.
UNEX Keg-Flow consolidates floor space, reduces bending and improves stock rotation with first-in, first-out storage. When the first keg is pulled for distribution, the next one slides in right behind it. As each lane is labeled, mis-picks are reduced, along with travel time for pickers. Using Keg-Flow, distributors have been able to increase their warehouse capacity while improving efficiency and productivity. Most importantly, where two or four kegs were stored on pallets, now users get eight or 16 in the same space.