When it comes to creating the most cost-effective and sustainable storage solutions for your company, there is a seemingly endless array of possibilities open to you. This is an overview on how one system stacks up against another and details some of the factors that should be considered before making your ultimate decision.
As with any decision undertaken on behalf of your business, ensure a thorough analysis of your requirements before committing to any expense. The most common considerations center around the layout of the premises, nature of the goods typically stored, and how you intend to transport them. Fork-lifts are a familiar sight around most warehouse facilities and are instrumental in providing a safe and convenient method for moving or stacking your goods.
Many who have worked within industrial complexes will be acquainted with the variety of pallet racking systems available. However, it’s advisable to consult with professionals to ensure you select a solution which will service all your needs. You may even find you need to incorporate a combination of systems to provide the most comprehensive solution for your business.
Pallet Rack Installation
Proper installation of your chosen system is as vital as the actual choice of the racking. Unfortunately, too many operators consider installation a mere afterthought when, in fact, it should be of paramount importance. Ensuring correct installation—one that conforms to code— will have a direct bearing on overall performance and longevity.
You can never take too many precautions when it comes to providing a relatively safe and hazard-free working environment. It’s virtually essential that pallet rack capacity is determined by an industry professional and is tailored specifically for each individual build. The most typical misconception when purchasing a pallet rack is the tendency to underestimate the capacity needed.
Not paying heed to the functional specifications of the underpinning system, or being mindful of the exact nature of the materials to be stored, assures disaster. Ignoring industry safety standards may cost your business more than just money.
Types of Warehouse Racking Systems
Selective Pallet Racks (Structural Beam and Roll Formed)
Aisle access through fork-lifts is the reason this system is the solution most often used in industrial warehousing.
Functional aspects include greater flexibility regarding access, easy installation, general compatibility with other systems, and the ability to reconfigure the basic structure. FIFO (First In First Out) or LIFO (Last In First Out).
The accepted manufacturing standard for pallet racks is 2,500 lbs. per pallet position. Frame capacity can only be established after you have estimated the beam capacity.
Push Back Pallet Racks
This system relies on a nested container configuration. When a specific pallet is pulled from the selected location, the pallet(s) behind it move forward into the new position. These are ideal for warehouses which have higher product volumes, limited pallet space, or high turnover frequency.
Functional aspects include an increase of up to 90% more storage space compared to traditional selective racking (price increases with your storage density). It capably stores multiple pallets per position and enables you to optimize space without increasing handling time or slowing product rotation.
This system is fully customizable for unique applications—i.e., extra-long and extra-wide pallets or situations where full mesh supports are required to support pallets that are unable to maintain structural integrity on their own.
Drive-In or Drive-Through Pallet Racks
If you require FIFO (First In First Out), then you should configure this type of racking system for drive-through access. If you require LIFO (Last In First Out), then you can place this rack against a wall to allow your forklift drivers to use a drive-in system.
It is beneficial for use with large quantities of similar products that aren’t subject to time-sensitive issues. Typically placed against a wall, pallets are driven into place by forklift operators and loaded onto horizontal rails. Drivers remove the pallets from the same entry point at which they were originally loaded. With drive-through racks, the concept is the same; however, the placement is usually in an open area.
Functional aspects include increased (often double or more) storage capacity where access aisles are kept to a minimum. Design variants allow for 2-10 pallets deep per pallet position.
Pallet Flow Pallet Racks
Also known as “gravity flow,” this installation is a dynamic system allowing for efficient and speedy inventory turnover. As pallets are removed, those pallets lined up behind, “flow” into the next position over rollers via a gravity and brake system.
Functional aspects include FIFO retrieval format with minimized aisles. It can be designed to hold up to 20 pallets deep in one lane and is fully customizable from rollers to racks with speed-controller capabilities, which can be specifically configured for product weight ranges.
This is the preferred solution for storing materials that aren’t a concise fit for pallet rack systems, such as steel or lumber. It doesn’t necessarily matter if the edges are squared away, and it allows for longer items to be stored in a continuous run, without interference by vertical upright beams.
A free-standing rack system with horizontal arms that extend from a single upright column, cantilever configurations utilize horizontal spaces more effectively. Typical usage extends to any non-uniform products like furniture, pipes sheet metal, building materials, etc.
As with typical pallet rack systems, cantilever racks can be manufactured using structural steel or be roll formed. The type will be entirely dependent on the capacity requirements of the specific application. The arms can be both straight or inclined, with a provision for welded end-lips if required, and they will vary in capacity. Capacity calculations make the basic assumption of an even load distribution.
Although many material aspects are common, there are some distinctive differences inherent to each specific configuration or installation, so it’s a wise decision to engage an industry professional before making a decision of this magnitude. The costs of making the wrong choice can really stack up!