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Modern warehouses demand an efficient use of space. A warehouse racking system can help achieve this goal by stacking goods horizontally on multiple levels. However, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Businesses have to make choices about pallet racking designs based on their picking needs. This page will explain the importance of effective warehouse management and the main types of pallet racks: selective pallet racks, drive-in racks, push-back racks, and bulk storage racks.

The Importance of Warehouse Pallet Racking

Pallet rack shelving is a material handling system where goods are stored on pallets, which are stacked in many horizontal rows and utilize vertical space. Plenty of space is left between each row to allow forklift trucks to easily load and unload pallets. Any industry that requires high-volume stock capacity—including distribution, manufacturing, and big box retail—uses some form of pallet racking storage.

Benefits of Implementing Pallet Racks

Here are the main benefits of pallet racking in material handling and storage facilities:

  • Better efficiency: Pallet racks allow for maximum space efficiency. Instead of relying on square footage alone, warehouses can effectively utilize vertical space. A well-designed system can allow forklift trucks and employees to move freely and safely throughout the warehouse.
  • Enhanced inventory organization: Pallet racks can easily be incorporated into inventory organization. Certain racks or sections can be designated for specific items. This allows quicker retrieval and distribution of inventory, ultimately enhancing the efficiency of the entire operation.
  • Increased safety: Pallet racks are made from strong materials like steel, which can be bolted to the warehouse floor to provide even more safety and stability. As pallet racking creates a tidier, more organized warehouse, the risk of potential injuries is minimized. Storing inventory horizontally and up pallet racks reduces the risk of tripping hazards.

4 Types of Pallet Racks

To select the best type of pallet racking system for your facility, first, understand the four main types of pallet racks.

Selective Pallet Rack

Selective pallet racks are the most common type of pallet rack. They are “selective” because an individual pallet can be selected for picking without moving other pallets. For any kind of forklift, selective pallet racks enable quick access to every load and are an ideal solution for warehouses that have fluctuating inventory management needs. Selective pallet racks also tend to be the most versatile, economical option on a cost-per-pallet basis.

Drive-In Rack

Drive-in racks are most suitable for inventory operations that practice LIFO (last in/first out). While drive-in racks lose some of the freedom that selective pallet racks offer, it is a great solution for storage operations that are high-volume and have limited SKUs. Newly packed-in pallets will drive in previously-stored pallets, and forklifts can drive more than six racks deep to load or unload. By design, pallets that have been stored the longest will be picked first on the picking end.
Common applications include the beverage industry, blast freezers, and coolers.

Push Back Rack

Push-back racks operate much like the beverage coolers at the local convenience store. When the front pallet is removed, the pallets behind it slide forward on the
rails. Push-back racks are typically designed with only one picking aisle and one feeding aisle, which allows for quicker picking and loading times. These racks are
ideal for first expired/first out (FEFO) or first in/first out (FIFO) applications like perishable food storage operations. Other facilities that use push-back racks include third-party logistics, manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, and automotive industries.

Bulk Storage Rack

Bulk storage racks are designed for hand picking as opposed to forklifts. Bulk storage racks are accessible from both the front and back, allowing easy access for employees. They are highly configurable, making them a great solution for oddly shaped or oversized items.

Pallet Racks and Storage Solutions at Thornel Associates, Inc.

Whether you’re building a new warehouse or looking for new pallet racks for an existing system, the Thornel team can help with all your material handling needs. We have been in the industry for over 60 years and provide consulting, design, project management, seismic design, and installation services to optimize your storage operation. We offer label holders, placard labeling systems, rack protectors, and rack repairs in addition to our core services. Request a free quote today to get
started on your solution.