When your business output increases, there may eventually be a need to optimize storage space in your warehouse. Standard pallet racking options generally store one pallet per level, and usually no more than 5-6 pallets per bay, depending on bay height.
Drive-in racking systems can easily double (and sometimes triple) your storage capacity. In some cases, this racking system style can even be significantly more cost-efficient than other standard pallet racking system styles.
What Is a Drive-In Racking System?
A drive-in racking system is a space-efficient pallet storing option used to optimize storage space in your warehouse. The system is designed so pallets can slide backward on a rail, allowing pallets to be stacked several rows deep.
“Drive-in” refers to the method in which pallets are stored, which allows the forklift to drive into the rows of the racking system, allowing for deeper storage. This eliminates the need for a lot of aisle spaces in between each of the storage rows because one access point can allow the storage of several pallets per storage level. This racking system works on a Last-In-First-Out (LIFO) algorithm because pallets are stacked from back to front, contiguous to each other.
There are two different types of drive-in racking systems. The first type, called single entry racks, allows the forklift to access the storage rows from one end only. The second type, double entry racks, allows forklift access from both ends of each row. This style of racks has a metal support beam through the center, preventing access to pallets on the other side. Therefore, both types follow the LIFO algorithm.
Advantages of Drive-In Racking
Drive-in racking systems have multiple benefits other racking systems may not. The main advantage is significantly increased storage capacity. For example, some drive-in racking systems are three rows high and four rows deep, allowing for a total storage of twelve pallets per storage bay. Others have more rows or deeper storage space and can maintain much higher capacities.
This is an incredibly high storage density when compared to most standard racking styles, which would only hold three pallets per storage bay. Most drive-in racking systems also allow space for floor storage underneath the racks as well. Reducing needed space can be useful in cutting warehouse costs.
Another advantage to this racking system style is that they are generally built to be sturdier and last longer. Because the racks are meant for the forklift operator to drive into, they will naturally take more damage. This causes a need for sturdier and more durable materials to be used when designing these racking systems, which means, with proper care, they endure a long life.
For this reason, drive-in racking styles usually maintain a high weight capacity and can be a viable option for storing heavier goods. Drive-in racking can be purchased to accommodate many different styles and sizes of pallets, including over-sized pallet styles.
How Do You Know if Drive-In Racking Is Right for You?
Drive-in racking might be a good fit for your company if you lack necessary space to store your incoming goods. They may also be beneficial in storing materials that cannot be stacked block style, such as fragile goods. Companies that store a large quantity of each type of goods would also benefit from drive-in racking because the multiple pallet capacities of each row allow for easier organization.
This racking style would also be useful for storing products with a low turnover rate or lengthy shelf life. Because refrigerated storage units can be incredibly costly, drive-in racks can be very cost-efficient by compressing the amount of space needing to be refrigerated. This reduces the need for refrigerated space and the cost of refrigerator upkeep.
Drive-in racking would not be favorable in situations where LIFO would not be an appropriate storage algorithm. This type of pallet racking system could also be disadvantageous for companies that do not store multiple pallets of each type of goods. This would result in either access to some goods being blocked by others or an excess amount of unused space, resulting in a type of honeycomb effect.
The storage capacity may be limited due to the height of the ceilings in your warehouse, but, for warehouses with lower ceilings, this may still be the best storage option because storage is increased laterally. It is important to ensure all pallets are in good condition to ensure safety while using this pallet racking style.
An Investment Could Save You Big
The cost of a drive-in racking system may initially be higher per pallet space than standard pallet racking systems. The racks cost an estimated $75-105 per pallet position, depending on which rack style you choose. However, compressing needed space can save you more than enough to make this initial investment well worth your while.