Pallet Racking: A Buyer’s Guide

When you’re looking at fitting out a new warehouse, or expanding an existing warehouse space with extra pallet racking, it is important to consider the varying functions and benefits of each type so you can select the racking best suited to your needs.

It goes without saying that different product lines need storing in different ways to ensure safe storage and as little wasted space as possible.

So to assist you with your warehouse fit-out, expansion or re-fit, we have compiled a list of the most widely used types of racking, along with a brief outline of their relevant features.

Carton Flow Racking / Carton Live Storage

Carton Flow Racking and Live Storage are ideal for warehouses that store and despatch small products, parts and components that require manual picking and packing.

Carton Flow Racking uses lanes of inclined gravity rollers allowing for increased picking efficiency whereas Carton Live Storage may not use roller aisles.

In both cases, cartons or boxes are loaded onto the shelves or racking from one side and automatically progress to the front ‘picking interface’ on rollers as stock is removed for packing. The roller lanes can be adjusted in terms of incline, height and size in order to tailor it specifically to your needs.

Cantilever Racking

Cantilever Racking utilises a series of metal ‘arms’ to support long, heavy products including timber, pipework or beams. This system allows products to be stored loose or on a pallet, adding an element of versatility.

The arms are also available in varying strengths and can be attached to either one or both sides of the rack, allowing you to tailor the racking to your requirements.

The clear benefits of this form of racking are the ability to store longer-than-standard product lines, increased weights and its relatively quick construction time.

Coil Racking

Coil Racking is used to store reels of material such as cables, wallpaper or rope. The simple design allows for reels to be stored on either one or both sides, supported along spindles affixed to each end of the rack.

These spindles are adjustable to accommodate smaller or larger reels. This type of racking is most commonly seen in wholesale environments.

Double Deep Racking

Double Deep Racking aims to maximise the available storage space by allowing pallets to be stored in pairs, as the name implies. This cuts the amount of wasted space on aisles down to about half.

A drawback to this type of storage system can be the lack of access to all pallets, although this can be minimised by a properly implemented stock rotation and management plan.

For this reason, double deep racking is best used to store large quantities of the same product.

Drive-In Racking

Drive-In Racking provides a highly space-efficient storage solution, allowing for a 60-90% increase on capacity compared to conventional racking.

This form of racking is typically only accessed from one end meaning it is best suited for large quantities of one product line, or products sent out in ‘batches’.

Drive-In racking systems use the ‘Last in, First Out’ (LIFO) principle.

Drive-Through Racking

Drive-Through Racking, like Drive-In Racking, is highly efficient, though as its name suggests access can be gained from both ends. Typical Drive-Through racking systems use the ‘First in, First Out’ (FIFO) principle.

High Bay Racking

High Bay Racking can reach heights of up to 40 meters, fixed to both floor and ceiling, and is accessed via a racking crane.

The major benefits of this system include:

  • High capacity storage for minimal floor space
  • Ease of use as the racks can be accessed at any height
  • Safe operation due to the lack of foot traffic in the aisles.

Racks can be stacked single or double deep, and the cranes are guided by a floor level rail and supported at roof height by a top guide cable, ensuring safe operation at all times.

These systems are ideally suited to large quantities of high output goods.

Mobile Pallet Racking

Mobile Pallet Racking is a moveable form of racking designed to maximise usable floor space. The racking is mounted onto steel guide rails set into the floor, and simply moved up or down the rails to open each individual aisle.

This system means you only need to allow space for one operational aisle, increasing storage capacity by up to 80%. Another major benefit of Mobile Pallet Racking, other than the increased capacity, is the ability to access any pallet individually, from any position. The high weight limit also means it can be used to store virtually any product.

The racking is operated either manually or via electronic controls, and should be fitted with sensors to ensure safe use.

Narrow Aisle Racking

Designed to maximise floor space, Narrow Aisle Racking allows specialised forklift trucks to operate in aisles half the width in comparison to conventional racking layouts. By utilising in-built guiding rails set at floor height, this system allows for precision movement of stock at a quick pace.

The racking is height adjustable and offers access to every pallet without the need to re-arrange, adding an element of adaptability to the range.

Pallet Live Racking

Like Carton Live and Carton Flow storage, Pallet Live Racking uses integrated inclined gravity rollers, set at a fixed angle, in order to automate stock rotation.

Stock is loaded and unloaded on a ‘First in, First out’ (FIFO) basis, with the next pallet moving forward into position when the previous pallet is unloaded. The system minimises forklift movement and requires no specialist equipment. The speed of the rollers can be adjusted using speed controls and brakes.

Due to the inability to access all areas of the racking, this system is poorly suited to highly variable product lines, being better used in high output or batch goods.

Push Back Racking

Push Back Racking has major benefits in efficiency and accessibility.

Pallets are loaded onto a series of wheeled carriers fitted along inclined guide channels, allowing the pallets to automatically drop forward when the front pallet is removed.

The Push Back Racking system operates on a ‘First in, Last out’ (FILO) principle, allowing for fast and efficient picking and loading.

The pallets are stored four deep, well suited to long-term bulk storage and can be accessed by most types of forklift truck, removing the need for specialised apparatus.

Shuttle Racking

Shuttle Racking is a semi-automatic storage system designed for optimal storage capacity.

Pallets are loaded via forklift onto battery-powered ‘shuttles’ or trolleys within deep lane racking structures. The shuttle then runs on guiding rails to perform loading and uploading tasks without human intervention. This not only saves time and increases capacity, but is also safer as most of the transportation of pallets is handled automatically, keeping manual operators at a safe distance.

By adding additional shuttles you can further increase productivity, this makes this system ideally suited to businesses with limited manpower.

Vertical Racking

Vertical Racking is used for much the same purpose as Cantilever Racking in most cases, being ideally suited to longer length products.

The difference, as the name suggests, is that this style of racking stores the products vertically. Individual products are separated by adjustable dividers which mount onto the back of the racking. Vertical Racking is desirable for its ability to store more specialist products, and for its rapid adaptability.

Remember to consider not only your current requirements, but also any forecasted changes or expansions. Best of luck with your warehouse fit-out or re-fit!