What are Pallet Racks?

What are pallet racks?

Pallet rack or pallet racks are used in warehouses and distribution centers to store goods on pallets or skids. Generally configured using a series of steel vertical uprights and horizontal beams. Pallet racking comes in a variety of heights and levels. The storage or moving of pallets is handled using forklift trucks.

Components of a Pallet Rack System

A pallet rack system is typically pretty simple and made up of a few components that allow for a pallet rack system to be sturdy and durable.

  • Pallet Rack Frame (also known as an Upright)
  • Pallet Rack Cross Beam
  • Wire mesh (also known as wire deck)

Although the components of a pallet rack system are typically standard, there’s still a wide variety of different options when purchasing pallet rack systems.

beams and levels

Types of Pallet Racking:

Generally speaking, there are about 6 different types of pallet rack systems and each has their individual aspects that are important to understand when assessing your storage needs.

Drive-in Pallet Rack

Drive-in pallet racks are an efficient and affordable way to maximize warehouse and storage capabilities. A drive-in pallet rack allows for forklifts to move through the aisles in order to continue stocking and adding additional pallets. Drive-in pallet racks are typically used for LIFO (Last In, First Out) storage.

Pros of using drive-in pallet racking:

  • Drive-in pallet racks allow for high-density storage
  • Drive in pallets require fewer aisles for the same amount of storage
  • Because of the saved space, drive-in pallet racks are cost-efficient

Cons of using drive-in pallet racking:

  • Drive-in pallet racks are not great for specific inventory selection
  • Drive-in pallet racks create issues for inventory that needs to be rotated
  • Complications can also arise when there’s an insufficient amount of forklifts available  to move

Push Back Rack

Push back racks are ideal for efficient storage while enabling inventory rotation. Unlike other pallet racks, push back racks are great to increase the visibility of products, allowing for specific selection of inventory items. Like the drive-in pallet rack, push back racks also allow for Last In, First Out (LIFO) inventory management.

Pros of using push back racks:

  • Push back racks eliminate honeycombing by allowing for individual storage levels.
  • Push back racks are space-efficient and increases stability
  • Less opportunity for damage of pallet racks by forklifts
  • Increased selectivity among inventory

Cons of using push back racks:

  • Push back racks may not be ideal for inventory that operates on First In, First Out (FIFO) inventory management

Pallet Flow

Unlike the systems previously mentioned, pallet flows operate on a First In, First Out (FIFO) inventory management systems. Pallet flow systems get inventory moving and create easier inventory rotation. Because of the nature of the pallet flow systems, it increases the selectivity of inventory compared to other structures, like drive-in pallet racks.

Pros of using pallet flow racks:

  • Easy inventory management for FIFO inventories
  • Works great with easily perishable items
  • Increased selectivity
  • Immediate access to every product

Cons of using pallet flow racks:

  • Not ideal for inventories that use LIFO management

Cantilever Rack Systems

One of the unique options of pallet racks, cantilever rack systems are freestanding rack systems with front access available. Essentially, cantilever racks act as an industrial storage shelf with no front. Multiple large horizontal arms extend from single vertical column, creating easy access to all the products and inventory.

Pros of using cantilever rack systems:

  • Easy access to all of your inventory
  • Can be modified for withstanding various weights and sizes of products
  • Works well with non-uniformed items like building materials, pipe, bar and more.

Cons of using cantilever rack systems:

  • Cantilever arms work best when the inventory weight is evenly distributed. Items that cannot be evenly distributed can be difficult to use cantilever racks with.
  • Cantilever racks  are not the most space-efficient pallet racking systems available

Carton Flow Racking

Like the pallet flow system, carton flow racking offers great storage for inventories that operate by First In, First Out (FIFO) management.  Carton flow racking systems use a rear load design, allowing for easily managed and operated inventory. Unlike other pallet rack types, carton flow racking systems automatically rotate products by design, allowing for maximum efficiency and storage organization.

Pros of using carton flow rack systems:

  • Carton flow rack systems increase productivity without requiring much work on the operator’s part
  • Carton flow rack systems are ideal for inventory that is perishable or works best with FIFO management
  • Inventory is fully visible at all times

Cons of using carton flow rack systems:

  • Carton flow rack systems are designed to work with FIFO, not LIFO inventory

Selective Pallet Rack

Selective pallet racks are the most cost-effective methods for storing pallets. Selective pallet racks come in two types, roll-formed and structural. Roll formed commonly known as teardrop uses a boltless design and therefore racks are easily adjustable. Structural pallet racks use a bolt design and can be built into the facility itself.

Pros of using selective pallet rack systems:

  • Most cost-efficient pallet racking method
  • Operates well with FIFO inventory management
  • Can accommodate a wide variety of forklifts & machinery in the aisles

Cons of using selective pallet rack systems:

  • Lowest pallet storage capacity
  • Can increase loading & unloading times