The Flow Down Showdown: Roller vs. Wheel

When it comes to carton flow options, the choices are nearly limitless- not to mention confusing. How do you choose the option that’s best for you and your operation? Although we at UNEX do our best to guide you down the right track (literally), possessing a knowledge on the pros and cons of both roller and wheel carton flow options will allow you to make an informed decision based on the needs of your operation. Let’s take a look at roller lanes and wheel beds and see how they stack up.

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Roller lanes are ideal for operations that require dedicated lanes. If your product line is consistent and your cartons are generally of the same size and weight, roller options are ideal for you. The beer and liquor industry, for example, is the perfect environment for roller carton flow
options- six packs, cases, and kegs tend to be consistent in size, reducing the distributor’s need to accommodate large variances in their product. The size, weight, and quality of your cartons also play an integral role in selecting the proper carton flow option. If the
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quality of the carton is poor- the cardboard is flimsy or susceptible to imprinting- roller lanes are the way to go. Rollers provide far more surface area than their wheel bed counterparts, which allows the weight to be evenly distributed and puts less pressure on the carton. If you’re based in a humid climate, carton weight and quality again become an issue. Roller lanes are a great option in these types of environments. They provide better restart and greatly reduce the risk of imprinting when climate or carton quality becomes a major concern for your operation.

Wheel bed carton flow options tend to be much more versatile than their roller counterparts. If you have a large amount of variance in your product line, chances are that dedicated roller lanes won’t provide the flexibility your operation requires to flow smoothly. Wheel beds allow you to store cartons of varying sizes on the same shelves. This reduces travelling for your order pickers by consolidating your product line when possible. That means freeing up more valuable space as well.
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Wheel bed options are built for reslotting. While dedicated roller lanes may provide optimal flow, they are not nearly as flexible as wheel beds. For example, if you have a nine inch roller lane, it can only accommodate cartons up to 13.5 inches. Wheel beds, on the other hand, can accommodate products of almost any size-as long as it fits in your rack, of course . If the need arises to store a twenty inch carton where there was once a nine inch carton, little action is required. Simply adjust your infeed guides to the new product dimensions and let that product flow alongside your other cartons. Wheel beds are popular in the candy and tobacco industry, where carton sizes can vary greatly from one product to the next.

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Let’s review. Roller lane carton flow options provide great flow in problematic environments and for products stored in flimsy or impressionable cardboard. While dedicated lanes can improve the organization of your operation, they are not flexible enough to accommodate large variances in your product line. Wheel beds can take on cartons of all sizes, and are ideal for an operation where reslotting frequently occurs. Although roller lanes may provide a better flow for your cartons, wheel beds can optimize space utilization within your rack and are ideal for product consolidation.

Are you still unsure about the best option for your operation? This brief quiz will help you get closer to the right choice.

1. Do you reprofile frequently to accommodate new products?
2. Are your cartons of varying sizes?
3. Will you reuse your tracks in other parts of your operation?
4. Do you have seasonal merchandise?
5. Are your cartons durable?

If you answered yes to these questions, wheel beds are the ideal choice for you. If you answered no, dedicated roller lanes will be the optimal carton flow solution for your operation. Still uncertain? Not a problem- UNEX is happy to work directly with you to understand your operation and its needs in order to develop the best solutions for you.