Complete Warehouse Racking Buyer’s Guide

Pallet racks and storage solutions

Racking is the backbone of almost every warehouse, and it’s one of the most important investments a business can make. Different types of businesses have various sorting and product movement needs, and what works for one warehouse may not work for another.

Although the shape and weight of products matters a lot, the overall product turnover rate and number of different products sold matters even more.

There are many types of racking systems, and sorting through all the options may take time. Here are the basic considerations for warehouse managers needing to decide how to maintain and grow their businesses.

New or Used?

One of the first questions is whether or not used racking is a viable option. When considering whether to buy new or used warehouse racking, it’s easy to assume that new ones are a better investment. However, buying used pallet racks can be a cost-effective and safe option for growing businesses.

Often, a warehouse will sell old racking that’s in good condition because of changing business needs. A reputable used racking dealer will inspect racking thoroughly before making it available for sale. Since most racking is made of steel and used powder coated paint for durability, racking can hold up for decades under the right conditions.

Looking for used warehouse racking for sale near you can be a wise move. Businesses that are willing to purchase used racking may be able to buy more or better racking systems than they could normally afford, or invest in additional equipment. Plus, used racking can be a better option for businesses that intend to grow and may need to change locations or systems in a few years.

Basic Types of Racking

The most common type of warehouse pallet racking is teardrop style, which uses tapered holes and pegs to eliminate the need for bolts. This type of racking is easy to put together, yet is secure and can have very high weight limits.

Teardrop pallet racking is also easy to pull apart and move as needed. Other types of racking that require bolts can have higher weight limits, but are also harder to put together and can be much heavier.

The overall shape and inventory flow of a system also matter. Basic pallet rack storage requires many aisles in order to access each pallet, but can be a good option for distribution centers with many kinds of goods that need easy access.

Pallet flow racks, also known as carton flow racks, are a better option for warehouses that need a first-in first-out storage system. These racks can be a game-changer in large warehouses that need to make the most of available floor space.

Drive-in racks are another option that can be good for large pallets. These racking systems are designed to allow forklifts to drive directly into the shelving. This can minimize accidents by reducing the amount of maneuvering forklift drivers must do.

Decking, Cantilever Systems, and More

Most pallet storage systems simply use pallet support bars, which allow pallets to spread their weight over a larger area to avoid breakage. For shelving that may hold non-palletized goods, wire decking is a must-have. Wire decking is preferable to solid shelving because it’s lighter and allows for better sprinkler system access in case of a fire.

Long and irregularly shaped items can have special storage needs. For example, pipes, lumber, and other long merchandise may best be stored in cantilever storage racks. Cantilever racks eliminate vertical supports in the front of the rack, allowing easy loading and unloading of awkwardly-shaped goods. While these racks often don’t have decking, even furniture can be stored in cantilever racks if decking is used to support the products.

There are additional features available for many types of racking, including different types of rollers to support different weight loads. Warehouses can often mix and match features and rack types as needed, so warehouse managers should take all of their products into account before buying.

Load Ratings

Pallet racking beams and uprights each have their own load rating, and each of these ratings add up to calculate the total load rating for a shelving unit. However, any damage to a beam, upright, or bolt can reduce the weight a shelf can support. It’s critical that supervisors and managers work together to address damage as soon as it happens, no matter how new the racking is.

Securing a rack to a wall can help keep it more stable. However, its load rating still primarily depends on the strength of the shelving. For load rating questions, always consult with the manufacturer or the warehouse storage dealer you purchased the shelving from, and never assume that attaching a rack to a wall will allow it to hold more weight.

Safety Considerations

While no warehouse is completely safe, warehouses that use adequate lighting and safety features can reduce forklift accidents and product loss. Guardrails and other barriers are an important part of this.

Look for racking systems that allow or include brightly-colored protection around uprights and beams. Wire mesh decking allows more light through than solid decking, but additional lighting may need to be installed to improve visibility.

Make sure to budget for all these features. Although they may seem like an afterthought that can be added later, they are a critical part of safety from the first day of your operations.

Automation Options

Traditional warehouse pallet racking systems use no built-in technology, and instead rely on workers to move goods and manage information about what’s being stored.

However, improvements in technology mean that most picking and moving processes can be automated. Vending machines, horizontal carousels, package handling lifts, and other equipment use highly specialized software that can be customized to meet your needs.

One of the major perks of automation is that it reduces the number of people on the warehouse floor and minimizes human error. Once the equipment is set up, it is possible to save significant money through reduced labor costs. Customers will also appreciate the increased order fulfillment speed.

Although used racking can be retrofitted with some technology, some automated systems will work better with their own new shelving designs. Ask your warehouse racking retailer about available options that will work for your budget and available floor space.

Buying and Selling Racking

No matter what racking you decide on, you don’t have to look far for the most reliable retailer. SRS-i is a leading provider of used and new material handling equipment for warehouses of all sizes. We carry teardrop racks, cantilever racks, and many other shelving types for all your warehouse storage needs. We can even buy your old racking and answer any questions you have about the best racking for your growing business.