Info, Tutorials and How To Guides

SJF's Material Handling Blog

Guide > Carousels

Industrial Carousel Guide

What is a carousel?

A carousel is an automated storage device that can be used to store many parts in a very small footprint.  Carousels come in two main configurations, Vertical and Horizontal.

Vertical Carousels

Vertical CarouselVertical carousels take full advantage of overhead space. These carousels can save you up to 70% more floor space when compared to conventional static storage. Operator productivity is increased by up to two-thirds by eliminating the old “walk, search, stock, store” method of material handling. These carousels bring items to the picker via the shortest route possible. Verticals provide well lit work areas reducing worker fatigue and error. You’ll enjoy added security and safety as items are kept out of sight within the carousel. You won’t have to climb, stretch or bend to retrieve items ever again. Verticals deliver items conveniently to the carousel’s pick station providing one of the most efficient and productive means of storage retrieval on the market today.

Not all vertical carousels are open, however.  If you’ve been to a home improvement store recently, you’ll know that they have installed carousels to hold carpets, vinyl rolls and other large rolled goods.  This type of unit is called a spool or carpet carousel.

Below is a short video to understand how a vertical carousel works and how it can help you.

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Guide > Drive-in Rack Basics

Drive In Rack Basics

Drive-in Rack System

Drive-in Pallet Rack System

Both drive-in and drive thru systems allow more efficient use of available space than traditional multi-aisle selective rack. In fact, when compared to a conventional selective system, the same amount of storage can be achieved with a high density system in 80% less space. These systems decrease storage and retrieval time while increasing efficiency and productivity among workers. Not only do they benefit your operations, they can also decrease your bottom line — you get more storage room per dollar spent on racking!

The ways these systems achieve such high efficiency are deceptively easy. They (a) create a more uniform load (b) in a confined storage area while (c) forklift operators working in the system become more skillful drivers. In addition to the above benefits, one more thing can be said about this type of system: energy efficiency. Since the product is so densely loaded in this type of system, there is less air around it to be heated or cooled.

Drive-In Rack

Drive-in Rack is the ultimate in high-density storage. No other form provides more storage capacity per square foot of room than drive-in. A viable alternative to expanding one’s facility, drive-in provides a very low cost yet efficient means of high volume storage.

One Way Drive In – Last in First Out (LIFO)
Material is both stored and retrieved from the same side (entry point) in several aisles. For this reason, the first material put in this system is the last to come out. This works well where shelf life is at a minimum or not a major concern. This system also works well in cold storage environments or warehouse freezers.

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Guide > Forklift Trucks

Types of Forklift Trucks & Their Applications

There are several type of forklift trucks available on the market today. All forklifts perform the same basic functions of lifting, lowering and transporting materials however, some are better suited for certain applications than others.

All Terrain & Rough Terrain Forklifts

All Terrain Forklift

All Terrain Forklift

All terrain and rough terrain forklifts are the preferred forklift type for construction sites, ranches, farms and other outdoor environments. These all terrain forklifts excel at taking steep slopes and transitioning from gravel or another uneven surface to smooth and even surfaces. All terrain & rough terrain forklifts are typically lower to the ground than other lift types and they appear to have a regular truck chassis rather than a typical forklift frame. In addition, these forklift trucks also usually have a larger wheelbase (width + length) and articulating forks, oftentimes on a hydraulic boom. Where typical forklifts need to approach a load head on, on a flat even surface, an all terrain or rough terrain forklift can pick up a load even when the load is on a slope or otherwise unusually positioned. All terrain forklifts are great for factories or warehouses that have inventory located outdoors on rough surfaces.

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Guide > Sortation Conveyor

Sortation Conveyor Diagram

Sample Sortation System (click to enlarge)

Sortation Conveyor Systems

Several types of sortation conveyor are available for different applications. Below are some sample images and information on the different types of sortation conveyor. If you have any questions about the best conveyor solution for your operation, please contact an SJF sales professional at 800-598-5532.  Sortation conveyor systems are large and very complicated systems and should only be installed by professional installers knowledgeable in conveyor and the tips & tricks of the trade.

Sortation systems complete with scanners, controls etc., often cost more than the average company can afford to spend. At SJF, we believe that you don’t need to invest a small fortune to incorporate one of these systems into your operation. We specialize in previously owned sortation systems that will do everything the new systems will do for you and more. You’ll have piece of mind knowing that we can provide you with everything from design, layout, programming and installation from one single source.

SJF has successfully put several systems just like the ones below into operation for customers just like you. They are all currently sorting product at a fraction of the cost than a new system would have set them back. Take a look at the different types of sortation conveyor systems we can provide.

Types of Sortation Conveyor Systems

Crossbelt Sortation

Cross Belt Sortation

Cross Belt Sortation

Advantages of cross-belt sorters include quietness, ability to have sort points close together, sorting to the right or left, and versatile layouts such as straight, “L” or oval paths with inclines and declines.

Tilt Tray Sorter

Tilt Tray Sortation

Tilt Tray Sortation

Trays, connected in a chain, tip to both sides, dumping into chutes or sides, Low noise levels and ability to sort small, flat or delicate items are advantages. This is a common type of sorter for the publishing industry.

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Guide > Power Conveyor

Power Conveyor Guide

Power conveyor is an integral product in any conveyor system.  Powered conveyor consists of both roller and belt type conveyors – each having a unique drive system and purpose.  Most power conveyors consist of both drive sections as well as slave sections – the difference being that drive units can supply power to one or more slave units to create an entire run of conveyor.  Combined with conveyor accessories and gravity conveyor, a power conveyor system can be run through an entire facility to transport finished or unfinished goods to workstatio0ns, docks or any other location needed.

Below are some sample images and cutaways  of the different types of power conveyor as well as some of their common uses.  If you have any questions about the best conveyor solution for your operation, please contact an SJF sales professional at 800-598-5532.

Accumulation Conveyor

Accumulation Conveyor

Accumulation Conveyor

Accumulation conveyor is typically used in conjunction with other conveyor types in a complete conveyor system. Accumulation conveyor consists of pop-up sensor rollers located in ‘zones’ which use a pressurized air system to hold your product in a queue until it receives a signal to release it to the next stage of operations. This can include moving products one at a time onto a weigh station, case sealer, sort system, palletizer, or any other work station.

There are several types of common accumulation conveyor, however two are more common than the others. Zero pressure accumulation conveyor will eliminate package collisions on the conveyor line by leaving gaps between each individual box, while minimum pressure accumulation conveyor will place the individual boxes next to each other with little back pressure.

Accumulation conveyor is one of the most vital links in any large conveyor system. Without it, your sortation system, packaging machine, scale or other automated machines will quickly become overloaded and will not function properly.

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Guide > Strapping

Strapping Equipment

Why use strapping at all?

Strapping is used to secure bundles of product typically for shipping and storage.  Strapping your inventory not only extends the life of the product by keeping it safe and protected during shipping or storage, but will also free up space by keeping like materials together in neat bundles for easy location and retrieval.  Strapping together bundles of material is also a safety precaution when the materials are stored in racks.  If you don’t bundle your material, there is a chance that one or more pieces could fall from height and injure somebody.

How do I know what I need?

You can use the general guidelines below to assist you in choosing the right strapping for your application. Please note, these are only general recommendations – for additional assistance, please contact an SJF representative. [800-598-5532]

Rule of Thumb:

(Weight of Pallet x  1.5) / Number of Straps = Tensile Requirement of Strapping


Maximum pallet weight: 1100#
3 straps applied

(1100 X 1.5) / 3  = minimum 550# tensile strength required

**NOTE: The higher the pallet height and/or the heavier the pallet weight, the more important the need becomes for either a higher tensile strapping or more straps.

Steel Strapping

Steel Strapping

Steel Strapping

Steel Strapping available online from SJF comes in two tensile strengths: Regular Duty and High Tensile.  Each has specific uses – listed below.

Regular Duty (RD):    A low carbon steel strapping produced for low to medium duty applications, e.g., package reinforcement, unitizing, bundling palletizing and box closure.

High Tensile (HT): A high carbon steel strapping that is heat treated to produce a product which combines high strength and elongation (stretch) for shock resistance.   Typical applications are unitizing compressed fiber bales, securing heavy steel coils and open top railcar and trailer loading.   High Tensile strapping provides more footage per coil than heavy duty sizes of comparable break strength.

Polyester Strapping

Polyester Strapping

Polyester Strapping

Polyester strapping is the strongest plastic strapping material of the two (polyester vs. polypropylene). The highest initial tension can be applied and retained over a longer period of time compared to other plastic strapping materials. Polyester is also available in machine grade and is very easy to recycle.

Polypropylene Strapping

Polypropylene Strapping

Polypropylene Strapping

Polypropylene strapping is the most economical type of plastic strap and is adequate in many applications.  It has a break strength up to 2000# and comes in many different colors.  This is used in many different forms of package reinforcement and often in conjunction with cardboard boxes.

Comparing Strapping Performance & Characteristics

As you can see – each strapping has its strengths and weaknesses.  The table below outlines a size for size* comparison of strapping properties ranked in order from lowest (1) to highest (4), e.g. column one indicates steel strap as having the highest cost, polypropylene as having the lowest. *Comparisons are based on equal cross sectional areas.

Cost Break Strength Elongation Tension Delay Creep Impact Resistance Notch Sensitivity Environment Resistance Moisture Resistance
Steel 4 4 1 1 1 1 3 2 1
Polyester 2 3 2 2 2 4 1 4 4
Nylon 3 2 4 3 3 2 4 3 2
Polypropylene 1 1 3 4 4 3 2 1 3

Strapping Break Strength Chart

Steel Strapping
1/2” X .020 RD, 1180# Break Strength, 2942’ per Roll
1/2” X .023 RD, 1250# Break Strength, 2558’ per Roll
5/8” X .020 RD, 1470# Break Strength, 2046’ per Roll
5/8” X .023 RD, 1690# Break Strength, 2046’ per Roll
3/4” X .020 RD, 1770# Break Strength, 1961’ per Roll
3/4” X.023 RD, 2030# Break Strength, 1705’ per Roll
1/2” X. 020 HT, 1485# Break Strength, 2492’ per Roll
1/2” X .020 HT, 1485# Break Strength, 2492’ per Roll
3/4” X .029 HT, 3305# Break Strength, 1300’ per Roll
Polyester Strapping
1/2” X .020, 600# Break Strength, 7200’ per Roll
1/2” X .028, 750# Break Strength, 6500’ per Roll
5/8” X .028, 950# Break Strength, 5100’ per Roll
5/8” X .035, 1400# Break Strength, 3940’ per Roll
Polypropylene Strapping
1/2” X .026, 500# Break Strength, 7200’ per Roll
1/2” X .031, 600# Break Strength, 7200’ per Roll

Strapping Kits

For your convenience, we have put together some of our more popular strapping products into three easy to understand strapping kits. These kits come with everything you need to get you started with your strapping operations right out of the box.

What is the difference between a steel, polyester, and polypropylene strapping kit?

The differences lie in price, how much they can hold, and how long they can hold the strapped product. (See below for help in determining what strapping you need). Also, the steel has a separate cutter, whereas both the polys have the cutter built into the tensioner. Operationally they are all very similar.

How do I know which is the best kit for me?

Things to take into consideration when trying to determine what type of strapping you need are

  1. Type of product being strapped
  2. Weight of that product
  3. How much the product will be moved around while strapped
  4. How long the product will remain in strapping.

The following guidelines should help you with your selection.

 When to Use Steel Strapping

  • Extreme pallet weights – 4000# or more.
  • Sharp edges (safety).
  • Non-compressible loads, such as anything steel or metal.
  • The strap is the package (security).

 When to Use Polyester Strapping

  • Up to 3000# pallet weights.
  • Non-compressible or moderate settling loads.
  • When polypropylene fails to do the job, i.e., loads shifting, straps breaking, etc.

When to use Polypropylene Strapping

  • Up to 2000# pallet weights.
  • Moderate settling loads.
  • Light weight bundling.
  • All forms of package reinforcement.
  • Most palletizing of corrugated boxes.

What is the most economical strapping solution available?

Polypropylene is the most economical type of plastic strap and is adequate in many applications with a weight threshold of 2000#.

What is included in each strapping kit?

Steel Strapping Kit

Steel Kit

Steel Strapping Kit

1 roll of steel strapping
Box of 1000 seals
Premium Strapping Cart
Economy Sealer Tool
Economy Tensioner Tool
Steel Strapping Cutter

Polyester Strapping Kit

Polyester Kit

Polyester Strapping Kit

Polyester Strapping Kit
1 roll of Polyester strapping
Box of 1000 Serrated Seals (1/2” or 5/8”)
Premium Strapping Cart
Industrial Sealer
Industrial Tensioner
(no additional cutter needed)

Polypropylene Strapping Kit

Polypropylene Kit

Polypropylene Strapping Kit

1 roll of Polypropylene strapping
Box of 1000 Seals
Premium Strapping Cart
Economy Sealer Tool
Economy Tensioner Tool
(no additional cutter needed)

When I re-order – What do I need to replace?

Unless something has broken, the only thing you will order again is the strapping & the seals.

Guide > Pallet Rack Accessories

Pallet Rack Accessory Guide

Pallet Racks by themselves are very useful – however there are several common add-ons that give them even more utility.

Wire Deck

Wire Mesh Decking

Wire Deck

Universal Wire Deck Profile


Wire decks are a handy solution for improving both safety and visibility in your pallet rack systems.

While not specifically designed for point loading, wire decking can support up to 2500# of an evenly distributed load – however, most loads should still typically be supported by the front and rear pallet rack beams.

Wire decks come in several different configurations, however the two most common are universal/flared and step style.

Step Style Wire Deck


The main difference between a universal style wire deck and a step style wire deck is the support channels under the wire mesh. With a universal style, the channel is flared out allowing it to fit almost any style of pallet rack beam – box or step style. The step style wire decks can only fit on a step style beam.

Wire decking provides a safe deck material that meets all OSHA standards.  Many cities and municipal area require that rack decking be permeable by water or fire suppressants from overhead sprinkler systems.  Wire decks allow water to drip through to the lower levels of racking while still keeping persons below safe from falling objects.

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Guide > Pallet Rack Advanced

Selective Pallet Rack Guide

While this guide is meant to assist you in choosing your rack, it is still beneficial to consult with one of our professional solutions specialists. They have been working with this material every day for years and are aware of ALL the tips and tricks concerning pallet racks.

Please feel free to call us at 800-598-5532 to discuss your planned layout.

Pallet Racks Overview

Pallet Rack

One Section of Free Standing Pallet Rack

Selective Pallet racking is by far the most common type of warehouse storage rack and is the product typically thought of when the need arises for industrial type storage racking. All selective rack is made from component pieces that are usually priced & purchased seperately.

Pallet Rack Uprights

Uprights (also called Frames, or less commonly, legs) are the support columns that hold up individual shelves in a section of rack. Pallet Rack uprights form the ends of what are commonly known as ‘bays’ of pallet racking. Each pallet rack bay must have at least two uprights, however if multiple bays will be placed in a row they may share uprights (see figure 1).

Pallet Rack Beams

Beams are used to create the actual ‘shelf levels’ that support loads and are held up by pallet rack uprights. Pairs of beams form each individual shelf level (see figure 1). Shelf capacity is determined by the height of the beam, length of the beam and the number of shelves per bay. Most modern beams feature end clips that attach directly to the upright without the use of specialized hardware, however there are many different brands available that feature unique designs (see section below on selective rack brands.)

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