Warehouse Racks

How to design a warehouse racks layout in six easy steps.

Getting the most out of your warehouse racks requires some planning. It is not something you want to dive into, at least without some help.

A good warehouse design can help to keep the space organized. However, it can do so much more. Like creating a good workflow and improved safety.

The goals for your design should include the optimal use of both floor and vertical space. You will need to designate the work areas, type of inventory access and the dock locations.

With all that is riding on your warehouse racks layout, it is best to spend some time and evaluate a plan of action. To help you get started here are five steps and recommendations.

  1. Plan the budget for your pallet racking.
  2. Define the storage needs of your warehouse.
  3. How to choose your pallet racks vendor.

  1. Measure and Map Your Warehouse.
  2. CAD drawings, high pile permits, and engineering.
  3. Choosing pallet racks for your warehouse space.
  1. Plan the budget for your pallet racking.

The costs of pallet racks can include items like design, permits and the installation. In areas with seismic activity, off the shelf racking will simply not do. Do not discard the best option simply because of the price. Some pallet rack vendors have trade-in programs to help offset a new purchase. Alternatively, you may wish to consider doing some sections at a time.

  1. Define the storage needs of your warehouse.

In order to define the storage goals for your warehouse, it is best to take a holistic view of your operations.

If the goods you will be storing are low-flow, meaning not fast moving. Then all of the space in your warehouse minus any internal structures, doors or windows, can have pallet racks installed. Of course, you will also need to account for aisle space.

However, if the goods you will be storing are date perishable or high-flow. Then, you may need to consider a specialized type of system known as pallet rack flow. Flow systems allow for loading on one end and off-loading at the other end. These types of racks support a FIFO (First-in, First Out) rotation.

Then make a list of the type of commodities, weight, and packaging that you plan to store. If you have an idea of how many pallets or cartons you want to store, add that to your list.

This list now determines what our goals and storage requirements are. At this point, there is no need to provide additional details; those will come in later.

  1. How to choose your pallet racks vendor.

As tempting as it is to call around to find the lowest prices and select a vendor, don’t do it. After all, this is a long-term investment. Instead, look for knowledge and value.

Talk to your prospective supplier and explain your goals and requirements. Listen to the questions they pose and ask about their experience. A good pallet rack designer is likely to want to dwell deeper into the needs of your workflow and the items you will be storing. If they do not ask about permits, commodities or high pile storage, move on.

Most resellers will want to push a specific brand or product. While brand recognition is good, it does not speak about how well your particular vendor will support you in the future or as issues come up. Instead, look for a vendor that will be your partner, someone that is a problem solver and will be your partner in this endeavor.

  1. Measure and Map Your Warehouse.

The storage capacity is dependent on the size and layout of your space.

If you wish to do this yourself, you will need some basic tools like paper, pencil and a measuring tape. However, some vendors provide free site-surveys; take advantage of this and save some time.

Here you will want to start with a simple hand-drawn layout. Mark down the internal structures and all of the work areas. This should include overhead doors and windows. As well as all staging, shipping or receiving areas. Use an electronic measuring tape to determine the length, width, and height.

In some spaces, the shipping and receiving areas may be opposite of each other. Forklift turn ratio determines how wide your aisles should be. Be sure to consult your forklift manual for that information.

If you are using high-flow storage; it makes it easier to define aisles and pallet rack direction. In this scenario, racks can be loaded from the receiving end and off-loaded at the shipping side.

In a low-flow rotation, a more precise design is required. This is because of two things, higher forklift aisle traffic and ease of access. In this case, your pallet racks should support an evenly distributed traffic pattern.

  1. CAD drawings, high pile permits, and engineering.

In section 4, we created a rough draft or our racking layout. Now comes the time to formalize everything we have done so far into a good solution. Don’t fret though; this is where the right vendor can help.

If your warehouse resides in a seismic area or if you will be storing items over 12 feet. A high pile permit may be required. These require engineered plans that verify the weight limits of each storage position. It is best to let your vendor manage this process with your local city and fire departments.

  1. Choosing pallet racks for your warehouse space.

If you have followed our guide then by the time you get to this step, making a warehouse racks layout.selection should be easy.

If you picked the right partner, you should have had several conversations about your goals and requirements with them. Moreover, these talks should not regard price. They should be about the benefits of the proposed system. A good vendor should help you understand how their system will save you money.

Never the less, you should do your own research and look at the types of systems that are on the market today.

Make sure that your system will support your business in the future. Check to see that the rack equipment is durable, long-lasting and safe. Don’t settle for import steel that is lower grade and may create high maintenance fees.

It is our hope that this 6-step guide will help you build the best warehouse racks layout.

For more warehouse racks layout tips from experienced professionals check out How to improve the way you store inventory.