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Which pallet rack is right for your warehouse?

Friday, November 11, 2016

With all of the different options of pallet racking systems available, it can be challenging to figure out which type of pallet racking would be best for your warehouse inventory management. There is a lot you should consider besides just maximizing your storage space. In order to optimize overall performance of your warehouse operation, you need to weigh all of your options for their advantages and disadvantages. This will help things run more efficiently, minimize bumps from machinery and, more importantly, make the workplace safe for on-site employees by effectively lowering the risk of a pallet rack collapse.

First of all, when choosing which pallet rack system is right for you, you need to consider a few things:

- What will you be storing?
- What type of storage density do you need?
- How quickly do you move inventory? Think about seasonality being a factor.
- How much floor space are you working with? Floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall…etc.

After you consider these questions, keeping your needs in-line with a budget, you’ll have a better idea of your pallet racking needs. Below are some of the most popular racking options available and their advantages and disadvantages:

Selective pallet rack

This is most popular pallet rack choice in the world. You’re able to access every pallet from the aisle and the multi-level storage system maximizes your efficiency by storing high capacities of materials. You can access a single pallet without the need to move around the other pallets within the vicinity and the back-to-back rows allow for better stock control. It’s also the least expensive choice!

Which one? LIFO/ FIFO…etc?

• Smaller investment
• Accommodates both FIFO & LIFO inventory systems
• High throughput volume and accessibility
• All pallets are accessible
• Good for if you use forklifts around your warehouse frequently.
• Low storage density
• Limited by one-two pallets deep

Double deep pallet rack

This is an extremely dense storage system that consists of two rows of pallets back-to-back, hence the term “double deep.” The concept is quite similar to the selective pallet rack, but instead of just two back-to-back rows, there is now a total of four. Despite its density, you’re still able to access the pallet from both sides. You can increase your floor space between 60 and 65 percent by using the double deep pallet rack because you reduce the number of aisles you need. This is a cheaper alternative to the drive-in rack.


• Increases storage density
• Maximizes warehouse space
• Offers the same density as a two-deep pushback pallet rack system at a fraction of the cost.
• Must have a forklift specifically made for the double deep system.

Very narrow aisle-racking system

This is an ideal system if you need a lot of storage space in the most efficient way. The space between parallel rack units is much smaller allowing for more product to be stored and retrieved utilizing a side loading fork truck. This system works with a wire-guided system, so you’re able to pick products while moving down the aisle. Please note that this system does need special lifting equipment to navigate through the very narrow aisles.

Which one? LIFO/ FIFO…etc?

• Increases storage density
• Smaller upfront investment
• High productivity in full pallet retrieval

• More than one fork truck cannot pass in aisles
• Difficult to pick and restock at the same time

Drive-in rack

If you’re looking to store a large amount of pallets of the same SKU, then the drive-in rack is right for you. They have lanes of stack racks that enter and exit one way with your forklift to allow easy access deep into your storage system. This is an ideal for storing seasonal items or slow moving items, because you’re storing slow moving items and you don’t necessarily need a high-efficiency system. You can increase your storage density by up to 75 percent with drive-in racking.


• Increases storage density
• Cost efficient
• Medium to poor accessibility of pallets
• Racks more vulnerable to forklift damages

Drive-thru racking

Much like drive-in pallet racks, this requires fewer aisles, providing higher cube utilization, which allows for up to 75% more storage. This system is designed to store multiple pallets of the same SKU without the damage of bulk stacking. You’re able to access this from both sides, and you’re able to drive all way through the system. These are extremely useful for a large array of SKUs.


• Increases storage density
• High volume
• Full control over entry and exit
• Medium to poor accessibility of pallets

Pushback rack

This kind of system is essential for any warehouse that has a high pallet turnover. Pushback racks allow for easy selection of inventory items, which eliminates honey-combing and gives you enough space for individual storage levels. Finally, if you need to move pallets quickly due to low profit margins, the push back rack is the ideal system for you.

Which one? LIFO/ FIFO…etc?

Advantages of Push Back Racking:
• Increases storage density
• Easy loading/unloading
• High pallet accessibility
Disadvantages of push back racking:
• Limited to four or five pallets deep
• Low throughput volume

Pallet flow rack

Although this system is more expensive than most, it will more than pay for itself in increased efficiency. If you have high through-put, this system is for you. Pallet flow racks use rear-loading for easy inventory management and allows for a faster turnaround on items that must be moved in an accurate and timely manner. With this system, you’re able to have many pallets deep. It offers the purest form of FIFO (First in / first out) storage.


• High storage density
• Good throughput volume
• High upfront investment
• Medium unit load accessibility

About us:
For over 30 years Warehouse Rack & Shelf LLC has been supplying material handling and storage products to the nation’s largest original equipment manufacturers (O.E.M), distributors and retailers.

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