Bulk Bag Storage: Should You Place Your Bags On Racks?

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When it comes to bulk bag storage, you have two major choices: “stacking” or “racking.” At AZO, we recently covered what you should look for with bulk bags to assure whether or not they should be stacked. The material that fills the bags in question determines whether they should be stacked as well. While stacking bags is easy, there are other methods used for effectively bulk bag storage.

Racking presents many benefits (particularly with storing food-grade ingredients) that we aim to outline further in the following post. Generally, it is cheaper to stack bulk bags. Still, racking can be more efficient and safer for workers in the facility. When determining between racking and stacking, it can be helpful to remind yourself that there isn’t a fixed way to store super sacks that works for everyone, all the time. Whether bulk bags are to be “racked” or “stacked” depends on two major factors:

  • The commodity to be stored 
  • If you are willing to make the investment in both space and plant required for racking

Below we’ll dive into the ins and outs of racking. First, we’ll clearly define an example of the method. Then, we’ll focus on the behind-the-scenes details that ensure racking is a method you can potentially utilize. Finally, we’ll take a look at three major benefits of racking super sacks.

What does “racking” look like? 

In the picture below, you’ll see a good example of racking. Racking requires a storage support structure with steel posts or columns secured to the concrete floor. It is also common to place filled bags on wooden “pallets.” This arrangement facilitates faster placing and picking by forklift. The pallet is then is placed into racking as pictured: 

big bags on pallets on racking structures

Some racking includes steel mesh between horizontal frames (orange above). These prevent bags that have come off of their pallet from falling through the racks and onto other bags below them. Pallets are placed and identified on individual rack positions, which makes for an efficient, neat and orderly super sack inventory.

Racking requires significant investment in both space and plant

Ultimately, whether or not racking can come into the storage equation does come down to the handling methods and infrastructure available in your facility. As can be seen above, rack storage requires a significant upfront investment in the racking itself and the on-going expense of wooden pallets. Super sacks do not require wooden pallets, but their handles or loops (used for unloading) are impractical for movement by a forklift if the super sacks are stored above the operator’s head. 

Racking setup and installation represents its own design challenges and should be undertaken with careful analysis or with knowledgeable outside consulting. Racking is a great choice if it is required for your ingredients and within your budget. Three major benefits best summarize this idea:

Racking benefit #1: it keeps product off of the floor

A major benefit of racking vs. stacking is that racking keeps bulk bags off of the floor. This is particularly useful in situations where food-grade products are being manufactured because pests have easier access to super sacks that are stored directly on the floor (or stacked on top of one another). 

big bags in racking shelves

A good rule of thumb for these types of materials is to place them at least 4 inches off the floor. This is how and why the commodity stored in the sack determines whether stacking or racking is truly an applicable choice. 

Racking benefit #2: Pallets are easy to handle

Filled bags on a pallet are easy to handle with a forklift. Forklifts can simply pick them up in the warehouse and drop them off in production without ever touching the super sack hoisting loops. Warehouses that have racking often use the pallet method because it is quick and efficient. 

Racking benefit #3: it assists inventory security and control

Another major benefit of racking is an improved way to monitor your inventory to facilitate its control. When automated storage and retrieval systems are in place, inventory can be counted, located and traced to a high degree of accuracy. Every super sack is given a unique location in the inventory, which facilitates audits and minimizes loss. 

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If you're considering investing in a super sack unloading system or have any questions on how to help your plant and processes run smoothly in general, feel free to contact our AZO sales team. AZO has more than seven decades of experience in handling raw materials and shaping ingredient automation along the way.

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