Choosing the right storage rack for your warehouse can improve workflow, increase storage space, reduce damage to goods, and increase profitability. Depending on your available floor space, the types of materials you handle, and the need for rapid accessibility, you may find one storage rack is more suitable than another.
If you handle large goods, a pallet racking system may be the best option. Alternatively, if your staff work with merchandise that they pick by hand, a smaller shelving unit or even a mobile unit may be more appropriate.
The types of construction materials are also important because some racks need to withstand more contact with heavy times than others. Accessories can also provide excellent complementary features for many racks.
When you are reviewing your storage needs, it’s essential to be familiar with each type of storage rack’s strengths and weaknesses.
Pallet Storage Racks
Pallet racking systems are one of the most popular types of storage racks because they are versatile, can handle large and small goods, and are cost-effective. There are also several different types of pallet racking, and a warehouse manager often utilizes a combination of these racks.
Selective Pallet Racks
This form of racking is easy to set up, straightforward to use, and modular to add or remove sections, depending on your current storage requirements. This storage solution is excellent if you work with seasonal goods because you can free up floor space when business is quiet, and then build the racks again during busy periods.
Selective pallet racks get their name from the unrivaled access they give to the forklift operator because he can select any pallet from the frames without moving any others out of the way. If you have limited storage space, you can build these racks vertically, significantly increasing your stockpile goods’ ability.
Push Back Racks
As a high-density storage system, push back racks can store a large inventory in a compact space. Carts sit on inclined rails, and during loading, the forklift driver places a pallet on the carriage and then pushes it back with the following pallet. Usually, these racks can accommodate six pallets, making them especially useful when space is at a premium.
They work using a single-aisle design, so when you retrieve a pallet, the first one in is the last one off (FILO). When your employee removes a pallet, gravity works with the incline rails to gently push the next pallet to the front.
This method works well in retail or general warehousing. However, one limitation is that your warehouse manager needs to be well-organized to ensure the pallets are available in the most efficient order.
Pallet Flow Racking
This type of racking is similar to the push back system because it uses inclined rails, but it uses a first-in-first-off (FIFO) scheme. When you load a pallet on to the rear of the racking system, it moves down towards the front, enabling staff to unload the goods. While still a high-density storage system, it is especially beneficial for those who work with perishable products, such as in the food industry.
Depending on the number of pallets you are storing, you can add modules, potentially holding up to 20 pallets. This system is more straightforward than many racks because employees know precisely which pallet is the next one in line.
However, the warehouse manager needs to make sure he has them in the right order to avoid creating unnecessary work for employees.
Drive-in racking systems usually have a wall at one end, whereas drive-thru systems are in open spaces, allowing the forklift driver to enter one side and exit at the other. When storing goods, staff place the pallets on the rack beams by driving in between the frames. While this can save time, it also means the racks can be subject to accidental damage from contact with forklifts. To avoid these collisions, invest in post protectors.
Shelving Storage Racks
Shelving systems are available in many configurations and can hold goods of varying shapes and sizes. You can purchase heavy-duty options, lightweight designs, and mobile versions depending on your store’s products. They can complement pallet racking by providing storage areas for materials that your staff pick by hand.
Although not as strong as a pallet racking system, rivet shelving offers durable and robust storage spaces to accommodate heavy goods. These shelves are often used to store cartons and cases, and they have wide shelves that attach to the upright frames using a secure connection mechanism.
A popular choice is the teardrop design, and the rivets on the shelves drop into the slots that are spaced out on the frames. Rivet shelving is also modular, and you can increase your vertical storage space by adding more units as your business grows. Accessible from both sides, you can maximize efficiency because staff can pick from one shelf from two aisles simultaneously.
If you have light-to-medium merchandise, steel rack shelving is an excellent option. Employees can build, disassemble, and move these units around the warehouse according to the shifting storage requirements.
Steel shelving connects to the frames using a straightforward clip mechanism and is best for smaller items that your staff access regularly.
Wire Mesh Shelving
Usually made of durable steel, wire mesh shelving can support considerable weights and is also lightweight and easy to move. Because there is less surface area, it is not prone to rusting or collecting dust and mold, making it an ideal choice for delicate items or food storage.
Although it is suitable for storing smaller items, it’s essential to check that stored items can’t fall through the gaps.
If you need to transport goods around your warehouse, mobile storage solutions are ideal. These units usually run on wheels or tracks and are a great option for quickly moving merchandise between locations. Because staff can take a full-shelving unit with them, it cuts down on time when they need to transport multiple items.
This type of racking system is excellent for storing oversized or awkwardly-shaped items that don’t fit on pallets and are too heavy for other storage systems. The shipbuilding, timber, and construction industries frequently use these racks for storing logs, steel poles, and other bulky materials.
Made of heavy-duty steel uprights, angled arms come out of each post to provide the support for materials. The arms incline slightly back toward the posts to ensure goods can’t fall off, and you can choose between single-sided or double-sided units. While these are often necessary for storing certain materials, they can be expensive and take up considerable warehouse floor space.
Materials and Accessories
While the design and type of storage rack are crucial, you also need to consider the construction material and accessories necessary to improve the shelving and provide further options and support.
Although most shelving has a steel construction, there are different types of steel. Systems such as drive-in racking have durable steel that can withstand damage from being hit by a forklift, whereas smaller shelving units require much lighter steel.
If you are working on a budget, roll-formed steel can help save you money. Manufacturers use a roll-forming machine to mass-produce this version, making it cheaper than bespoke designs. Although it is less expensive, it is still a durable option and meets all health and safety regulations.
Adding accessories to your storage racks can be an excellent way to strengthen shelving and protect your investment. Your employees’ safety is crucial, and safety panels and bright labeling and warnings can help keep employees at a safe distance when they are passing by heavy materials.
Placing wire mesh or steel decking on shelves can add an extra layer of support and prevent items from falling, which can prevent workplace accidents and damage to valuable goods. Column protectors can help reduce damage to uprights, which keeps them looking in pristine condition, and lowers the chance of breakage from accidental impacts.
Using hanging rack dividers and color-coded storage carts are effective when handling merchandise with different SKUs, improving efficiency, and ensuring employees do not select the wrong product when packing orders.
Warehouse storage requirements can be complicated and require several different racks to ensure you have the most efficient method for keeping goods safe. Accessibility is vital, especially when working with perishable merchandise, and you can help keep your staff safe by adding safety accessories.