Types and Features of Pallet Racking Systems

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Every warehouse, distribution center, and fulfillment center has unique demands and requirements. As such, warehouse pallet racking needs vary greatly depending on the size of the warehouse, the products stored, and the operation’s needs. Fortunately, there is an enormous variety of pallet racking systems, allowing each warehouse to select a pallet racking system ideal for their operation.

What Are Pallet Racking Systems?

Pallet racking systems are storage solutions designed to enhance a warehouse’s storage of palletized products. Pallet racking systems come in various forms, and the primary purpose of the systems varies depending on the type. Some pallet racking systems are primarily intended to optimize storage density, while others are designed to simplify product retrieval.

Types of Pallet Racking Systems

Pallet racking systems are a versatile addition to any warehouse. They can be divided into two primary categories: selective and compact pallet racking. While both types help warehouse operations more efficiently store and retrieve goods, they have different goals and benefits.

Selective pallet racking is primarily used to increase warehouse organization and simplify product retrieval. Compact pallet racking is concerned mainly with improving a warehouse’s storage density.

Within these two primary categories, pallet racking systems fall into several subtypes.

Subtypes of Selective Pallet Racking

Adjustable Pallet Racking

Adjustable pallet racking is the most common type of pallet racking and a subtype of selective pallet racking. Adjustable pallet racks store pallets in rows, with forklifts running through the aisles to store or retrieve the product.

These pallet racks can be adjusted to fit the dimensions of the warehouse’s inventory. This flexibility makes adjustable pallet racking a common choice for warehouses with fluid storage and inventory requirements.

Very Narrow Aisle Pallet Racking

Very narrow aisle pallet racking, also called VNA pallet racking, is a form of adjustable pallet racking. The major difference between this type of racking and adjustable pallet racking is the width of the aisles between racks.

VNA racking allows narrower aisles to increase storage density while maintaining the convenience of a selective pallet racking system. The major pitfall of very narrow aisle pallet racking is that these systems require specialized equipment, such as very narrow forklifts, to navigate the racks and handle inventory.

Double Deep Pallet Racking

Another form of adjustable pallet racking is double-deep pallet racking. This type of adjustable pallet rack is distinguished from the other types by the second layer of pallets in each row. Double-deep pallet racks can double storage capacity compared to other adjustable pallet racks; however, they prevent direct access to some inventory and remove the rack’s selective functionality.

Subtypes of Compact Pallet Racking

Drive-In Compact Pallet Racking

With drive-in pallet racking, forklifts can drive directly into the pallet racking structure to access pallets, eliminating the need for forklift access aisles. This enhances the warehouse’s storage density while permitting easy access to stored products.

Since there is only one point of rack contact for forklifts, drive-in pallet racking is almost exclusively used for last-in-first-out inventory management systems.

Drive-Through Compact Pallet Racking

Drive-through pallet racking is another type of compact pallet racking closely related to drive-in pallet racking. The primary difference between the two types of pallet racks is that drive-through racks feature a forklift access aisle. While this slightly reduces storage density, it allows for more flexible inventory access and product rotation. Due to these differences, drive-through pallet racking is primarily used in warehouses that use a first-in-first-out inventory management system.

Mobile Pallet Racking

Mobile pallet racking is a high-density pallet storage solution. These systems feature chassis railing to allow racks to move as needed. The ability to move pallets and racks allows high-density storage while still permitting the creation of forklift access aisles.

Live Storage Pallet Racking

Another subtype of compact pallet racking is live storage pallet racking. These pallet racks fall into two distinct subcategories, primarily based on the warehouse’s inventory retrieval needs.

Live Storage Gravity Pallet Racking (FIFO)

Gravity pallet racking is a subtype of live storage pallet racking; it is also commonly referred to as first-in-first-out racking or FIFO racking. These pallet racks are compact and feature rollers or wheels on an incline.

The rollers or wheels allow the pallet to easily slide from the rear, where the pallets are loaded, to the front, where the pallets are retrieved. Gravity pallet racking allows warehouses to retrieve pallets in the order they were received, which permits a first-in-first-out inventory system. They are beneficial for warehouses that store products with expiration dates, such as food or medicine.

Live Storage Push Back Pallet Racking (LIFO)

Live storage push back pallet racks are similar yet distinct from gravity pallet racking. Instead of facilitating a first-in-first-out inventory system, these racks are designed for last-in-first-out retrieval. Like gravity pallet racks, push back pallet racks feature wheels or rollers to allow simplified movement of pallets.

Push back pallet racking enables forklift operators to place the most recently received pallet in the front of the stock while safely pushing back any already present pallets.

Benefits of Pallet Racking

Pallet racking systems offer a variety of benefits to any warehouse operation, including:

Enhanced Storage Density

One of the primary benefits of pallet racking systems is their ability to increase a warehouse’s storage density. By expanding the use of vertical space and maximizing ground space, pallet racking systems allow warehouses to store more products in their warehouse space, which can significantly increase profit potential.

Simplified Loading and Product Retrieval

Most pallet racking systems allow easy access to pallets without rearranging the warehouse’s storage space. This improves efficiency and can significantly reduce shipping timelines.

Safer Warehouse Operation

By using pallet racking systems, warehouses can improve the safety of the operation for both warehouse workers and stored products. Since pallet racking systems allow easy access to pallets, no dangerous reconfiguration is necessary.

Because pallet racking is made from heavy-duty, industrial-grade materials with high load capacities, the risk of accidents is significantly reduced. Pallet racking systems also reduce pallet damage and collapse, protecting workers and stored products.

Simplified Inventory Management

Wide varieties of pallet racking systems allow for simple management of warehouse inventory. Specialized pallet racks are available for any inventory management system, including first-in-first-out and last-in-first-out systems.

Reduced Labor Costs

Pallet racking systems make inventory retrieval much simpler; as a result, installing a racking system can decrease a warehouse’s total labor costs.

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Find the Perfect Pallet Racking System With SRS-I

Pallet racking systems are an excellent way for any warehouse to optimize its operation. Regardless of the size of your warehouse, the types of products it stores, or the unique demands of your operation, you can be sure that there is a pallet racking system that is ideal for your business.
If a pallet racking system can help your warehouse operation, call one of Shelving + Rack Supply, Inc.’s experienced project management experts today at (800) 589-7225 to find the perfect pallet racking system for your needs.