With warehouse space costing the moon, pallet racking systems offer the best means of optimizing space utilization without sacrificing convenience. Pallet racking comes in different types and it is not a case of one size fits all. Therefore, it is essential to understand the options you have before deciding on what is best suited for your needs. Let us examine the different types and explore their advantages/disadvantages so that you can make informed decisions.
Colby Racking from Dandenong says, Before we explore the details, one should consider some of the important factors that will influence your decision of setting up new warehouse:-Your budget for an appropriate racking solution
- The floor space available in your warehouse
- The height of the ceilings
- Size and type of pallets used by you
- Number of SKUs to be stored in the racks
- Frequency at which you have to access the pallets
- Shelf life of the product and the movement pattern you would use, like First in First out (FIFO)or Last in First Out (LIFO)
- Number of pallets you have to store
- Type of forklift trucks employed for accessing the racks. Lift height of the truck
Once you have collated the answers to the above question, you are better prepared to explore types of pallet racking that answer your needs.
This is a very basic method in pallet storage wherein pallets sit on the floor in rows. The rows can occupy the entire depth of the warehouse taking into consideration your accessibility needs. If the pallets can support the load, they can also be stacked one upon the other. However, in such a case, you are typically using the LIFO system of stock movement.
The advantages of the system are that you are not required to invest in any equipment and you get a high storage density. However, the disadvantages include poor access to the pallets and significant amount of floor space being consumed
Selective pallet racking
This is the most common pallet racking in use today. Selective racks use uprights and cross beams for creating a “shelf” to store the pallets. Typically, you can create multiple levels in each bay if the height of the warehouse permits. Generally, a bay is one pallet deep though it could be possible to create two-deep systems.
This is a relatively cost-effective storage solution compared to storage solutions that are denser. It will facilitate access to all your pallets and you can operate on LIFO or FIFO basis. However, since you will provide aisles between the rack rows, storage density is lower compared to other options.
Drive through/Drive-in pallet racking
Fork trucks can drive straight into a bay when you use the drive-in pallet racking. The face of the bays remains open since the pallets will rest on the sides of the rails than the cross beams. Typically, the uprights are tied together on the top adding rigidity to the system. The difference between a drive-through and drive-in systems is the availability of an entrance at both ends or a single entrance. When you have an entrance both ends, the drive-through system is more desirable.
Commonly this type of racking accommodates 6 to 8 pallets in each bay (depth). Forklifts elevate the load to an appropriate level and load the pallet at the rear end of the system first. The second pallet gets into the second position from the rear and continues till one lane is full. Drive-in racks necessarily operate on LIFO basis while the drive-through racks work on FIFO basis and are ideal for storing large volumes of pallets with same/similar products.
With this system, you can get a high storage density and lesser cost compared to a flow rack system. However, with the forklift trucks driving the system, the racks are susceptible to frequent damage. Further, the accessibility may be poor for all pallets.
Pallet Flow Racks
This system typically uses cross beams and uprights supporting a gravity roller conveyor housed within the rack. The rollers are slightly pitched allowing the pallets to naturally flow towards the front end of the system. As you unload a pallet from the front end of the system the pallet behind moves forward, to occupy the exit position. Like the drive-in racks, this system is ideal for storing large quantities of pallets of identical product. This system works on FIFO basis. This type of racks allows high storage density and you can store 20 plus pallets along the depth. There is no need to drive into the racking system though accessibility to all pallets is not optimal. Another disadvantage with this option is the higher investment needed compared to other options you have.
Predominantly cantilever racking is employed for storing long products such as steel rods, long timber logs, plastic piping etc. This type of racking has a series of columns with protruding arms designed for the product specifically. Cantilever racking is custom made to address your exacting requirements and is a measure to optimize the storage space you get.
Narrow Aisle Racking
This is a type of selective racking with significantly narrower aisles compared to selective racking. Warehouses operating on man-up or man-down lift trucks generally find this type of racking beneficial since the lift trucks can move comfortably through the narrow aisles. Narrow Aisle racking also allows you to optimize space utilization and allow you to use every inch of vertical space you have.
Carton Flow Racking
This type of racking employs a bed of rollers usually installed in selective racking with double entry. A series of rollers are housed in the bed designed for efficient and easy movement of the stock. Businesses that need a stock to be loaded, picked and sorted manually by warehouse employees will find this type of racking beneficial. Customizing every aspect of the roller trays will further optimize space utilisation and stock movement.
Heavy duty racking
Businesses that need storing of heavy-duty items will find this type of racking advantageous. A wide load can also be accommodated in this type of racking and an example of the load is large chunks of steel.