With its wide-ranging array of systems and configurations, the world of warehouse racking can be daunting for those unfamiliar with the various types of storage racks. The aim of this guide is to provide you with everything you need to know about warehouse racking systems.
Cantilever racks are made from steel. Each rack has a vertical column, a base, and arms, as well as either horizontal or cross bracing which connects one rack column to another. Different size support arms are available for varying depths and capacities, allowing for different types of product load.
Cantilever racking is especially well-suited for irregularly shaped and bulky inventory, such as appliances, building material, and furniture. The shelf height of this racking system can be altered to make sure the entirety of the warehouse’s vertical storage space is being put to use.
Pallet racks are a great option for making the most of the available storage space within a warehouse. Since there are so many variations between pallet racks, however, it is good to have a solid overview of the merits of each type to help decide which configuration best fits your warehouse and its storage qualities.
Pallet racking systems are used mainly in two different varieties. Selective pallet racking is the most commonly used type, allowing pallets to be accessible from the aisle of the warehouse. Selective racking is the most easily installed compared to all other types. Within this system are two types of configuration: the first being the roll formed, also known as the clip-in configuration; and the second being the structural bolt-together configuration.
In the structural bolt-together formation, horizontally oriented load beams are connected by bolts to upright beams. Consequently, this type of pallet rack system has a superior weight-bearing capacity compared to the roll formed selective pallet rack, in which the pallet is laid resting upon horizontal beams.
The roll formed configuration does have the advantage of being more convenient for warehouses where there is a greater variety of products with differing dimensions. With the roll formed style, the beams can be rapidly moved around, meaning the shelves can be quickly reconfigured to heights suitable for different load sizes.
When choosing between structural and roll formed selective pallet rack systems, pay attention to the superior load weight capacity of the structural variety, although this is at the cost of the greater adaptability of the roll formed alternative. This is not to say that structural installations cannot be adapted to varying pallet and container size requirements—the adjustable bolts of structural selective pallet rack systems mean the racks can be adjusted as needed.
Three materials are available: metal pallets, plastic pallets, and wood pallets.
Pallet flow racks, also known as gravity flow racks, are used in a non-static system which utilizes skating wheels to allow fast movement of inventory. They’re good for high-density inventory storage using the FIFO (First In, First Out) management system. This type of concentrated storage requires a smaller number of aisles and maximizes the efficiency with which floor space is used.
With another type of flow rack, carton flow racking uses a different system with a rear- loading design which automatically rotates the inventory, easing operation management difficulties and maximizing storage efficiency.
Push-back racks are used in a form of pallet racking system where pallets are loaded onto nesting carts which are balanced on steel rails. Loading one pallet from the front pushes the one behind it backward by one pallet space. This system aids accessibility to the product because unloading the front pallet causes the pallets loaded behind it to move forward into position.
With a push-back racking system, the product can be stored as many as two to five pallet layers deep. However, the inventory can only be accessed from a single aisle. Because of this inherent limitation, push-back racks are only suitable for the LIFO, or Last In, First Out system of managing your inventory.
Drive-in racks allow for much more efficient use of space for warehouse storage. In a drive-in racking system, the pallets are stored back to back, significantly decreasing the concentration of wasted space in the warehouse. With this system, the warehouse’s inventory must be rotated, either in a FIFO (First In, First Out) or a LIFO (Last In, First Out) manner.
The necessity for either FIFO or LIFO is due to the way in which the system works—by operators driving into the racking array from one direction and picking pallets from the same point of entry. Operators can only access the inventory from a single-entry point.
FIFO is a better option for perishable goods or products with a limited life span, whereas LIFO might allow you to keep a better overview of stock, as well as minimize the required space. Keep in mind that, generally, drive-in racks are more suitable for LIFO operations.
Unlike other types of stack systems, stack racks can be disassembled when not being used, allowing warehouse storage space to be temporarily reallocated with ease. Also, they can be stacked up to as many as five, allowing for efficient use of vertical warehouse space.
Shelving systems are comprised of plastic or metal units (but generally metal) that can be loaded and unloaded manually. Normally used to provide easy access to small yet heavy inventory, metal shelving units can usually be adjusted, whereas the plastic variety units are, for the most part, of a fixed shelf height.