Pallet racks are popular storage systems in warehouses, distribution centers, and factories. If you’re considering upgrading or revising your warehouse, there are various racking systems to choose from, including structural steel selective pallet rack systems, pallet flow solutions, and drive-in units.
The right pallet racking system can improve warehouse operations to streamline your workflow and boost productivity. It also allows for seamless integration with warehouse management software.
This allows you to gain critical data points and key performance indicators to help you implement cost-saving strategies and improve order fulfillment to save your company money and increase customer satisfaction.
Explore the six biggest benefits of installing a pallet racking system and discover which types of pallet rack are the best choice for your business.
Basics of Racking Systems
A basic pallet rack storage system consists of upright columns connected by horizontal steel beams that support palletized products. These components can be made from structural steel or roll formed steel. Structural steel offers greater load capacities, while roll formed steel provides easy assembly and excellent value for money.
For pallet racking systems, pallet retrieval requires forklift trucks and other types of material handling equipment, depending on the type of racking system. These range from simple and functional selective pallet rack systems to more advanced dynamic pallet flow racking systems.
Six Benefits to Installing Pallet Racking Systems
There are numerous benefits to installing a pallet racking system in your warehouse or distribution center, from optimizing your floor space to long-term financial savings.
1. Efficient Use of Warehouse Storage Space
Warehouse space is always at a premium, and warehouse pallet rack systems enable you to take advantage of vertical space. The air space above the racking systems is an excellent place to store pallets and merchandise, especially when you have sufficient building height.
Furthermore, heavy-duty storage racks and wire decks ensure goods are protected from damage. Some of the best racking systems for optimizing warehouse vertical space include:
Selective pallet racking
A selective pallet rack is a low-density storage system that provides high selectivity, allowing forklift drivers access to products in multiple bays simultaneously.
Selective pallet racking design is modular, so you can configure the system according to your storage needs. This is an ideal solution if you’re starting a warehousing business or need to expand an existing one.
You can transform your selective pallet racking system into industrial shelving by adding wire mesh decking or solid decking. The mesh ensures that small items, such as cartons don’t fall between the beams. However, a selective pallet rack system has limited storage density.
Mobile pallet racks
Narrow aisle space can reduce maneuverability, increasing risks to workers. Mobile pallet racks, like mobile shelving systems, allow workers to open service aisles, either remotely or at the location, for access to pallets. When the worker retrieves the desired pallet, the aisle closes, saving aisle space and increasing storage density.
Mobile pallet racks and shelving systems slide on floor tracks built into the concrete floor of your warehouse. These systems may be manually operated or semi-automated.
2. Bulk Storage
If you need to store inventory items in bulk. These multi-deep racks allow you to store inventory items 2-6 or 8-20 pallets deep.
Push-back rack systems
Consider installing a push-back racking system if you need a pallet rack system that provides both high-density storage and selectivity. A fixed rack structure featuring upright frames and horizontal beams supports nested carts that slide on inclined rails in a push-back rack.
The forklift driver places a pallet on the cart in the front of the system. When a driver loads a second pallet into the system, it pushes the front pallet and cart back. This exposes the second cart for pallet placement. A push-back rack is considered a last-in-first-out (LIFO) system.
Drive-in pallet rack systems
A drive-in rack system is another example of a high-density storage system that allows you to maximize the potential of your warehouse. In this system, a forklift truck drives into the storage bay, places a pallet, then drives out.
Unlike a selective racking system, a drive-in rack doesn’t have horizontal beams. Instead, the pallets rest on rails on the inside of the rack bays. Drive-in systems use the LIFO method of stock rotation. As a result, these racks are ideal for the long-term storage of homogeneous products.
On the downside, drive-in systems are more susceptible to rack damage than other types of racking, requiring the use of structural steel. You should also ensure that your forklift drivers are adequately trained and certified and undergo continual professional development to maintain the best forklift safety practices.
Cantilever rack systems
Consider installing a cantilever rack if you need to store oversized or bulky goods. Cantilever rack storage is suitable for lumber, furniture, rolls of fabric, and bar stock/tubing. Cantilever racking systems are unsuitable for palletized merchandise because the arms are typically angled to prevent rounded items from falling. The angled arms cause pallet loads to become unbalanced and unstable.
3. Faster Order Fulfillment
Warehouses play an essential role in the order-fulfillment process. To increase order fulfillment efficiency, it’s necessary to improve productivity throughout the facility.
This depends, in part, on the storage and retrieval system you use and the method of stock rotation. There are two general methods of stock rotation: First-in-first-out (FIFO) and last-in-first-out (LIFO).
In FIFO storage racks, you can access single pallets without having to remove other items. Common applications for FIFO include the storage of time-sensitive goods, such as perishable products or those with a high rate of turnover.
The LIFO method is appropriate for the long-term storage of homogeneous products that do not expire or lose value over time. LIFO is unsuitable for perishable products, such as food items or pharmaceuticals.
There are several racking systems suitable for increasing order-fulfillment efficiency, but two of the best examples are:
Pallet flow racking systems
For increasing order fulfillment and throughput efficiency, consider a pallet flow rack (also known as a gravity flow rack). Pallet flow rack systems use inclined gravity-fed roller lanes to move goods from the loading aisle to the retrieval aisle. Flow pallet racking systems are simple to use and high density.
The disadvantages of pallet flow systems are high capital investment, high maintenance, and limited selectivity.
Carton flow racks
Carton flow rack systems are similar to pallet flow systems. Instead of transporting palletized inventory items on inclined rails, a carton flow rack works with cardboard boxes, plastic totes, and other products loaded at the stocking location, and order pickers retrieve by hand. Carton flow pallet racking systems are an efficient option for high-volume order picking.
Carton flow pallet racking systems also have cold storage applications, including for food distribution. You can also combine carton flow racks with conveyor picking, which is ideal for distribution and fulfillment centers.
4. Reduces Damage to Merchandise
Maintaining customer satisfaction requires ensuring you store all goods and inventory safely. Because you can wrap merchandise on a pallet and secure it on solid beams and wire decking, they are less likely to fall or cause accidental damage in a busy environment.
Using pallet racks as storage systems, staff can keep goods safe and reduce unnecessary transportation. Improved material handling ultimately increases profits by reducing waste and damaged merchandise.
5. Long-Term Investment
Pallet racks, whether roll formed or structural steel, can last for decades with proper maintenance. Because you don’t need to constantly replace your storage systems, pallet racks offer an excellent return on investment.
Pallet racks that increase throughput efficiency can also reduce labor costs. So you’re able to allocate more funds toward other business goals, increasing your competitiveness in the field.
6. Flexibility to Grow
As your business grows, you may find that it’s necessary to expand. The modularity of pallet racking systems allows you to add storage capacity and change the configuration as needed. For example, you can create a double deep pallet rack using a row spacer, attaching one to the other. These spacers attach to upright columns, keeping the systems close together creating additional storage space.
Unirak Frames and Beams
If you’re interested in a lightweight, cost-effective storage solution for your warehouse, Unirak Pallet Racking Storage Systems are tear drop pallet racks that allow for ease of assembly and installation.
Unirak frames and beams are MIG-welded, eliminating the need for bolts. The components have a high-gloss powder-coated finish for increased visibility and resistance to abrasion. Customize the height, depth, and length to suit your storage requirements.
Unirak Beams have a minimum of three rivet studs to maximize holding power. Every beam endplate has a spring-loaded safety clip that you can remove — no tools required. Starting from 8”, you can adjust the height of the beams in 2” increments according to your storage needs. Combined with a wire deck, you can also use these pallet racking systems as substitute shelving for product cartons.
Forklift collisions can cause rack damage, compromising structural integrity, especially in systems that use a roll formed construction. A column guard or column protector is a barrier that protects upright columns against damage from forklift trucks. You should also consider structural pallet rack systems for warehouses where forklift traffic is high and space limited. Structural racks also have increased weight capacity over roll formed systems, all else being equal.
Standard and large column protectors
Our Standard and Large Column Protectors, manufactured by Diversified Plastics, Inc., increase low-light visibility and attach using nylon fasteners, eliminating the need for failure-prone Velcro straps. Combined with sturdy and well-maintained anchor bolts, your racks should remain stable and protected against a variety of hazards.
Depending on the requirements of your warehouse, you may determine that an automated storage and retrieval system (AS/RS) is the best way of increasing the efficiency of your business.
While these systems can increase productivity and storage density compared to traditional storage systems, the initial capital investment is high.
Find the Best Pallet Racking Systems
Industrial racking systems have various benefits for warehouses, fulfillment centers, and other businesses that require inventory storage and retrieval. Whether you’re interested in expanding the storage capacity of your warehouse facility or want to improve workflow, there’s a racking configuration available to meet your needs.
Shelving + Rack Systems, Inc. has been in the industry for decades, and we offer our extensive experience to help you find the ideal pallet rack system for your facility. We also provide turnkey services, including racking design and installation, to ensure you comply with the latest industry safety standards.
Call us at (800) 589-7225 for a quote.