Pallet racking is any form of material handling storage system that assists in storing materials on pallets in horizontal roles on several levels. Pallet racks require using a forklift truck in loading and unloading pallets onto the racks. All pallet racking, irrespective of the style, will increase the warehouse storage density, retail centers and any other form of a storage facility.
There are many factors to consider when choosing which style of racking is right for you:
- Inventory accessibility
- Storage density desired/required
- Inventory weight and size
- Placement of obstructions like support beams, columns, doors etc.
- Building space, both floor height, and space
Selective pallet rack is the least expensive and the least dense, thus allowing for direct access to the product at each shelf heights. Selective pallet rack comes in two different styles, structural and roll formed. The roll formed racking has horizontal load beam that is held in place by clips, it is typically lighter and it is adjustable in 2-inch increments. This makes adjusting the rack height a lot easier. Roll formed on the other hand cannot hold as much weight as the others, and it tends to be less resistant to the impact from the forklifts
Structural selective racking due to the horizontal being attached to the upright beams with bolts is much more durable. Both types of selective racks can be adjustable and they allow for customization. However, the roll formed is more prone to damage and it is less durable. Structural pallet rack can be part of the structure of the building, creating a rack supported building, replacing the buildings I-beams.
The other types of pallet rack include push back, drive-in/drive-through, and pallet flow rack. These types of pallet rack allow for more dense storage. However, you cannot access any particular inventory item at any moment. It takes much more organization and planning in order to properly utilize this kind of racking but when it is done properly it is a lot more efficient.
Drive-in/through racks allow lifting equipment in order to drive directly into the rack’s rows. Drive through is open at the entry point allowing for a forklift to completely drive through the rack, whereas drive-in is only open at one particular in. Drive in requires a form of LIFO (last in, first out) style of inventory, meaning that the very first pallet to be stored in a row is the last one out and the last one to be stored is obviously going to be the first one out. Drive through uses either the LIFO or FIFO for storing, mostly because the pallet can be accessed from either side.
Drive-in or drive-through rack is a highly dense method of storage owing to the fact that it does not require aisles between each rack system. This time can be easily damaged owing to the fact that forklift travels through the rows with little clearance on each side.
Pushback pallets take advantage of the depth for additional storage capacity because it is capable of storing between 3 and 6 pallets deep and the pallets are stored on wheeled carts that comfortably seats on top of rails.