The Advantages and Disadvantages of Narrow Aisle Racking

Narrow Aisle Racking

Narrow aisle racking is a pallet racking system that optimizes storage capacity, but knowing narrow aisle racking advantages and disadvantages is essential before adopting this system.

Traditional pallet racking, including the aisles, can take up to 80% of a warehouse’s available floor space, making narrow aisle racking a popular space-efficient storage system for maximizing storage. If you need to make the most of your warehouse space, explore the pros and cons of narrow aisle racking.

What is Narrow Aisle Pallet Racking?

Narrow aisle pallet racking or a very narrow aisle racking system (VNA) is an adaptation of traditional pallet racking systems compacted into a very small area. Because the narrow aisle racking dimensions are almost half of standard racking systems, you can store up to 50% more product in the same space.

Despite the compactness of the space, VNA is a flexible system because the height and depth of the racking depend on your storage needs.

Narrow aisle racking typically has less than 6 feet between the racks, compared to 12 feet for standard pallet racking. However, because of the limited space between the aisles, you will need to use turret trucks that turn the load instead of the whole vehicle.

Advantages of Narrow Aisle Racking

A narrow aisle pallet racking system is ideal if you require a high degree of flexibility and easy access to stock but have limited floor space. A narrow aisle pallet racking system uses the same layout as a standard pallet racking system, offering similar benefits but with a smaller footprint.

Increased Storage Capacity

Narrow aisle racking maximizes the use of space by allowing for higher storage density. It requires less floor space for the aisles, freeing up more space for new pallet racking bays so you can store 40-50% more inventory. The pallets can also be stacked higher than a standard pallet racking system, reducing the square foot or cost per pallet stored.

Efficient Space Utilization

Narrow pallet racking provides efficient space utilization by reducing the aisle width and storing more products within the same footprint. This means that the space that would have been used for aisles in traditional racking systems can be used for additional storage, eliminating the need for offsite storage or building expansion.

Flexibility in Design and Configurations

Narrow aisle pallet racking maintains direct access to all the unit loads, making it a fully accessible and selective system. It can also be customized to meet your specific needs, improving pick rates and overall efficiency. The simple assembly, disassembly, and re-adaption of load levels allow you to easily adjust the system to changes in your storage needs.

Installing storage cranes can convert VNA racking into an automated storage system. You can also convert your current selective racking system to a VNA, contact us for more information on how to do this.

Better Accuracy in Inventory Management and Tracking

Narrow aisle racking can improve accuracy in inventory management and tracking by making it easier to locate products. This can help reduce errors and ensure products are picked and replenished accurately.

Enhanced Safety and Security

Narrow pallet racking maximizes space utilization while ensuring the safety of workers and products. It can be customized to include features such as automatic locking systems and fire protection measures, which enhance safety and security.

Disadvantages of Narrow Aisle Racking

While narrow aisle racking offers many benefits, there are also some drawbacks to consider:

Higher Initial Cost

The initial cost of installing a narrow aisle racking system is more than a traditional racking system. This is because of the need for specialized narrow-aisle handling equipment. However, the added value of the system offsets the initial cost.

Specialist Equipment Required for Handling

Narrow Aisle Drum Transporters

Narrow aisle racking requires specialized equipment, such as turret trucks and drum transporters, which can be expensive to purchase and maintain. Workers also need specialized training to operate the equipment safely.

Potential for Increased Damage to Pallets and Racks

The narrow aisles in a narrow aisle pallet racking system can increase the potential for damage to pallets and racks during handling and storage.

Limited Maneuverability and Accessibility

Narrow aisle racking can limit the maneuverability and accessibility of workers and equipment, affecting productivity. The limited aisle width can make moving large items in and out of storage difficult.

Reduced Ventilation and Lighting

The narrow aisles in a very narrow aisle racking system can reduce ventilation and lighting within the warehouse if stacked high. This can impact the overall working conditions of employees.

Factors to Consider When Deciding Whether to Adopt Narrow Aisle Racking

Before adopting a narrow aisle racking system, it is important to consider several factors, including:

Space Availability

Narrow aisle pallet racking maximizes space utilization but consider the available space and how it can be optimized with the new system, especially if you want to use vertical space to maximize your storage.

Type and Volume of Product

The type and volume of products your business handles also impact your decision to adopt narrow aisle racking. Businesses that handle a large volume of uniform products with similar sizes and shapes may benefit from the system’s increased storage capacity.

However, businesses that handle irregularly shaped or oversized products may find it difficult to store them efficiently in narrow aisle racking.

Operational Needs

The specific operational needs of a business should be evaluated to determine if narrow aisle racking is the best storage solution. For example, if a business requires frequent movement of products or equipment, there may be better storage options.

Safety Considerations

Safety is always a top concern when implementing a new storage system. A narrow aisle racking system requires strict operational protocols, and proper training and safety measures should be implemented to prevent accidents and injuries.

Future Growth Potential

Consider the future growth potential of the business and how a narrow aisle racking system can accommodate that growth. This type of storage system can be costly to install, so it’s important to consider whether the system can scale with the business and meet future storage needs.

Are You Considering a VNA Racking System?

At Shelving + Rack Systems we understand the importance of maximizing storage space and improving operational efficiency while maintaining safety and cost-effectiveness. We are knowledgeable and experienced in designing, engineering, and installing VNA racking systems and can work with you to provide a turnkey system.

Our talented team of in-house project managers are all experienced in the handling industry and will work with you to make sure your system is the best fit for your operation and is installed on time and within budget.

Contact Shelving + Rack Systems at (800) 589-7225 to learn more about narrow aisle racking advantages and disadvantages and how we can help you optimize your storage space.