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The ultimate guide to pallet racking systems

Written by Mike Morleye

Have you ever wondered how warehouses maintain such impeccable organisation and easy accessibility? The answer lies in the ingenious design of pallet-racking systems.

Whether you’re a small e-commerce business owner or a manager of a sprawling industrial warehouse, understanding these systems can be the key to optimising your space and enhancing efficiency. So, let’s delve into the world of pallet racking systems, exploring their various types, unique uses, and the multitude of benefits they offer.

1. Understanding pallet racking systems

First and foremost, what exactly is a pallet racking system? In simple terms, it’s a storage solution crafted to hold materials on pallets (also known as “skids”). These systems utilise metal structures to create shelves, which effectively maximises vertical space in warehouses.

The concept has a rich history, evolving over the decades to cater to diverse storage needs, thereby revolutionising warehouse organisation and efficiency. Some common terms you might come across include beams, uprights, and decking, all integral parts of the racking system.

2. Types of pallet racking systems

There are several types of pallet racking systems, each suited to different storage needs. Let’s explore the most common ones.

Selective pallet packing

This type takes the crown as the most popular and versatile. It’s like the chameleon of pallet racking systems, adapting to warehouses with a variety of products. The catch? It’s not a space-saving superhero since it requires a significant number of aisles.

Drive-in/Drive-through pallet racking

These systems are designed for high-density storage. In a drive-in system, forklifts enter the rack from one side to pick up or place down pallets, which are stored in a last-in, first-out (LIFO) manner. Drive-through systems allow entry from both sides, following a first-in, first-out (FIFO) system. They save space but can be a bit tricky to navigate.

Push back pallet racking

This system uses a series of nested carts that move along inclined rails. When a new pallet is loaded, it pushes the existing ones back. This is ideal for warehouses that must store multiple pallets of the same product, as it also follows a LIFO system.

Pallet flow racking

Gravity flow racks automatically use sloped shelves and rollers to move pallets to the front. This FIFO system is perfect for perishable goods and other items that must be rotated regularly.

Cantilever racking

Cantilever racks are designed for long, bulky items like lumber, pipes, and furniture. They don’t have vertical obstructions, making loading and unloading these large items easy.

Mobile pallet racking

These racks are mounted on mobile bases that move along tracks. Compacting racks together when not in use allows this system to double storage capacity while still allowing access to each rack when needed.

Double deep pallet racking

As the name suggests, this system stores pallets two rows deep. This reduces the number of aisles needed and increases storage density, but it requires a specialised forklift to access the back rows.

3. Uses of pallet racking systems

Pallet racking systems are versatile and can be used in various settings:

Industrial warehousing

Pallet racking helps store large quantities of heavy items efficiently for industrial warehouse racking like automotive or manufacturing.

Retail warehousing

Retailers use these systems to manage their inventory, making it easy to restock shelves and keep track of products.

Cold storage

Storing perishable goods requires specialised racking to withstand cold temperatures. Pallet racking systems, especially types like pallet flow racking that support FIFO inventory management, are ideal for this.

E-Commerce fulfillment centres

E-commerce warehouses need to handle fast-moving inventory. Systems like selective racking or pushback racking are often used to keep products accessible and organised.

Distribution centres

These hubs manage the receipt, storage, and dispatch of goods. Efficient pallet racking systems streamline these processes, improving loading and unloading times.

4. Benefits of pallet racking systems

So, why should you consider investing in a pallet racking system? Here are some key benefits:

Maximising space utilisation

You can store more in less space by going vertical. This is crucial for warehouses with limited floor space.

Improving warehouse efficiency

Easy access to pallets means quicker order fulfilment and better inventory management, leading to a more streamlined operation overall.

Enhancing safety and organisation

Properly organised racking reduces clutter and minimises the risk of accidents. Clear labelling and systematic storage keep everything in its place.

Scalability and flexibility

Properly organised racking reduces clutter and minimises the risk of accidents. Clear labelling and systematic storage keep everything in its place.

5. How to choose the right pallet racking system

Choosing the right system for you depends on several factors:

Assess your specific storage needs

Consider the types of products you store and their turnover rates. Do you need FIFO or LIFO systems? What are your items’ sizes and weights?

Cost savings

More efficient storage reduces the need for additional warehouse space. Better organisation means less time spent searching for items, lowering labour costs.

Assess your specific storage needs

Consider the types of products you store and their turnover rates. Do you need FIFO or LIFO systems? What are your items’ sizes and weights?

Warehouse layout and space constraints

Measure your space and consider how you can optimise it. Do you need narrow aisles, or can you afford wider ones?

Budget considerations

Determine your budget for the initial investment and ongoing maintenance costs.

Future scalability and flexibility requirements

Choose a system that can grow with your business. Modular systems that can be expanded or reconfigured are often a good choice.

Consult a specialist

 If you’re unsure, it’s always a good idea to consult a pallet racking specialist. They can help you design a system tailored to your needs.

The last word

In conclusion, pallet racking systems are essential for efficient warehouse management. By understanding the different types, their uses, and the benefits they offer, you can make an informed decision that will help optimise your storage space and improve your overall operations. Remember, the right system can make a huge difference in maximising your warehouse’s potential.

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About the author

Mike Morleye

Hi, I am Mike Morleye. As a professional writer, I put together my writing skills to share knowledge on diverse topics in a readable, understandable and appealing format. Follow me back on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.