Warehouse Racking Design

Warehouse Racking Design: The efficient, safe design and use of pallet racking storage systems, pallets and materials handling equipment depend on a number of factors.

This guide is intended to give an indication of best practice and advice to anyone involved in the planning of a new warehouse or storage facility.

It is of equal value to the warehouse manager/operator for information on operation, maintenance and health and safety matters for those who may not be a specialist with regard to this type of equipment or in the detail design related to the storage facility.

Covering Industry and Technical Standards and relevant storage and warehouse legislation this guide is a handy reference tool for any personnel working within a warehousing/operations environment.

Warehouse Racking Design
Warehouse Racking Design

Warehouse racking layout

Warehouse and Storage Planning

Warehouse planning and implementation

Warehouse racking design: Warehouse Planning Do’s and Don’ts:

Design from the inside, out: Warehousing is all about efficient space utilization and cost-effective materials handling. These essentials must be considered first, before the building structure

  • The roof is only there to keep out the weather!
  • It is more economical to build upwards than outwards (per cubic meter of space)
  • Think building volume, not floor area, in storage zones
  • Think of the amount of activity that is to take place and ensure that adequate movement space is also provided
  • Building related costs are often quite high, largely “fixed” and can literally become a “millstone around your neck” if you get your planning wrong!

Unitise and Standardise: Whether handling small parts, palletized goods, or large loads, make sure that you:

  • “Unitise” goods for ease of handling and storage
  • Use industry-standard pallets and containers to eliminate double-handling, minimize the risk of product damage and make the best use of space
  • Minimize the number of different standard sizes and loaded weights of the unit load devices that you use in order to maximize flexibility
  • Instruct your suppliers to use only those standard-sized units, in order to minimize transport and handling costs
  • Work with your customers to deliver in standard unit load quantities and lot sizes, in order to minimize handling and delivery costs

Warehouse implementation plan

Plan for Good Space Utilisation: Space costs money ….. Use it wisely

  • Use Pareto (A, B, C) analysis to categorize products according to their storage, handling, and throughput characteristics
  • Use the available building height to maximum advantage
  • Select storage systems which offer good space utilization good selectivity stock rotation
  • Select handling equipment which complements the storage systems and also facilitates good space utilization (i.e. which will allow you to work with the narrowest practicable aisles)
  • Remember, handling and storage equipment usually accounts for only a relatively small proportion of total warehousing costs. Investment in the right equipment can save a great deal more, both in terms of building costs, and labor costs
Warehouse Racking Design
Warehouse Racking Design

Warehouse material handling equipment

Plan for Efficient Materials Handling Flow

  • Why meander when you can travel in straight lines?
    • Through-flow or ‘U’ flow?
  • Plan flow-efficient layouts in terms of:
    • stock layout (by-product popularity or another appropriate grouping)
    • processes, including receiving, putaway, picking, packing, and despatch
  • Select appropriate types of handling equipment according to:
    • the types of load to be moved
    • the rates of movement
    • travel distances

Plan for Productivity

warehouse racking design:

  • Labor costs are usually controllable; therefore minimize them
  • Benchmark your performance against “best in class”
  • Focus on Order Picking – it can account for half or more of labor costs. Identify picking methods which:
    • reduce picker travel distances
    • maximize accuracy
    • eliminates paper encourage high productivity, or
    • bring the goods to the picker
  • Introduce performance standards
  • Monitor individual and group KPI’s and performance
  • Train staff
  • Reward good performance

Warehouse dimensions

Prepare the building performance specification only after planning the storage and handling systems and internal layout. (warehouse racking design )

  • Key items to specify, include:
    • Dimensions of the structural column grid
    • Clear operating height from floor to top of the very top load
    • Floor loadings, flatness, and finishes
    • Loading dock arrangements
    • Mezzanine floors; heights, types, and loadings
    • Lighting levels, heating, and environmental needs
    • Fire protection and compartmentalization
    • Offices and employee amenities

warehouse best practices

Think outside the box – avoid congestion: At large D.C.’s over 60% of site area can be allocated to roadways, parking, and external activities.

Make sure that:

  • The site has a secure perimeter
  • Employee car parking is secure and separated from the main site
  • Proper routes are defined and marked for commercial vehicles
  • Adequate parking is provided for commercial vehicles and private cars
  • All-access and egress is controlled, security-wise
  • Pallets, cages, and waste are stored in properly designated, enclosed areas
  • Pedestrian routes are safe and properly defined
  • Plan to avoid congestion: Don’t over-develop the site !!

Future of warehouse

Future Proof the Design – Business is Dynamic. Future-proof your investment, in terms of:

  • Process flexibility
  • Process reliability
  • Process resilience
  • Reverse logistics
  • Allowing for future changes in
    • business needs
    • product ranges
    • stockholding policy
    • customer demands
  • Changes in handling and storage technology and Information Technology
  • Ultimate property disposal
Warehouse Racking Design
Warehouse Racking Design

Warehouse racking codes

Planning your Racking & Storage:

Matching business needs with the appropriate pallet racking system is critical and entails asking the right questions as well as providing flexibility in solutions that can accommodate variables such as capital resources, anticipated growth, and variable product lines.

Choosing the right storage system involves a solution process, and that begins with considering the flow of merchandise. That will dictate your density requirements – how “tightly” the merchandise should be stored. From that key decision follows a series of specifications: the material and type of racking, pick systems, ancillary material handling, etc.

Warehousing with high-density storage solutions usually has a large or complete turnover of inventories during specific intervals or seasons. Merchandise could be stored in large bays with a few access aisles to maximize floor space.

Conversely, lower density warehousing is appropriate for parts or retail distribution centers where customer orders are picked continuously to fulfill Just In Time (JIT) requirements.

Warehouse Racking Design
Warehouse Racking Design

Warehouse Racking Design

Storage Analysis & Planning: The data collection stage of the design process defines data requirements and results in the development of two “Planning Bases”.

  • Today’s picture of flows and quantity movements.
  • Tomorrow’s requirements, which may show the transitional steps at specific time-points where significant events are expected to take place e.g. new product launches or new contracts expected/lost.

In almost all circumstances it is important to gain an understanding
of the following;

  • How are the goods received and in what volume? How are they expected to be received and to be stored and put away – and at what rates and volumes?
  • Which product lines are expected to be held as stock – together with the physical characteristics for each stock keeping unit (SKU) passing through the warehouse?
  • What volume of goods needs storing in each of the family or subgroups?
  • What are the typical order profiles (analyzed by division and family groups or subgroups)? Must orders be checked and/or repacked? What are the work content and physical volume to be handled in each task area?
  • Must goods be staged if they cannot be direct-loaded? What is the quantity of inbound and outbound vehicles the facility will need to provide for within the warehouse area (for undercover loading) and within the yard, including any stand trailers or containers?
  • What additional yard space should be allocated to product handling equipment, such as pallets, and should these be of a consistent size for ease of operating the warehouse?

What effect do days of the week or month or other seasonal factors
have on the throughputs and inventory levels? There are two basic data collection tasks that almost always apply:

  • warehouse analysis and improvement
  • Movement Analysis

warehouse analysis and improvement

Storage Analysis: Defining the right balance between the conflicting objectives of efficient storage and frequent order accessories (picking slot visits) is a key part of the decision process. This balance can only be achieved after proper analysis of product lines to be stored and the rates at which they have to move through the warehouse. In this regard compilation of ranked product storage and ranked product movement rate data is invaluable.

Warehouse racking design

To demonstrate this in graphical form, the storage analysis graph in Figure 1.1 shows the number of pallets to be stored for each line. This information combined with the total quantity of pallets or units to be stored provides a very good guide in the selection of storage systems.

Movement Analysis

A movement graph, as illustrated in Figure 1.2 shows the rate at which each product line moves through the warehouse with indications of whether it moves out in pallet or carton quantities.

This provides further guidance to the selection of storage system and the most appropriate handling equipment and, in particular, the order picking system.

In a small operation, this information may be observed manually. As the size and complexity of the warehousing requirement grows, the only practical way to define requirements is to collect data in electronic form and develop a database, allowing the data to be manipulated as required. Typical measures would include number of pallets per day, (e.g. a number of picks or order lines per day), based on known ratios or validated assumptions.

Planning the building footprint and layout

Critical components of a building footprint as it relates to a pallet
racking is:

  • Building column layout
  • Building clear height (usable vertical space below the roof or ceiling)
  • Overall square footage
  • Permanent and semi-permanent obstructions (offices, sprinklers, lighting, etc.)
  • The simplicity of building layout (a rectangular building is typically more conducive to efficient storage design than one that has large square footage through multiple build-outs)
  • Dock door placement
  • Safety requirements (egress paths, forklift aisles, etc.)
Warehouse Racking Design
Warehouse Racking Design
What is a warehouse design?

The goal of warehouse designing is to optimize warehousing operations and achieve maximum efficiency. Maximum efficiency can be reached by implementing solutions. In short, the warehouse design element aims to maximize the utility of space, equipment, and efficiency of operations.

What is the objective of designing an ideal warehouse layout?

A well-optimized layout also helps employees to ensure time-bin replenishment to make sure the warehouse has optimum space utilization, reduce storage costs, and improve employee efficiency.

How does pallet racking work?

Pallet/Gravity Flow: Pallet flow rack uses metal rollers and the force of gravity to feed pallets into the rack’s pick position and is used for its ability to get warehouses flowing. Like drive-in racking and other engineered systems, pallet flow works by eliminating aisles in order to maximize the available space.

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Warehouse Storage Solutions

There are a number of warehouse storage solutions out there, and while a couple of these may ‘work’ for your operation, there’s likely one that is the most beneficial. Identifying and utilizing this ideal storage solution will ensure optimized density and selectivity, increasing efficiency, and ultimately profits.

Types of Racks in Warehouse

Racking is much more than just steel. Racking is the key to optimum throughput efficiency because the efficiency of the entire material flow is optimized only through the requirement-specific design of a racking system.

Pallet Rack Safety Regulations

Pallet Rack Inspection checklist – Pallet Rack Safety Regulations: Few warehouse operators have aggressive in-house rack inspection programs in place. Forklift accidents, collisions, dropped or misplaced loads, and other incidents that result in rack damage may or may not get promptly reported.

  • When do warehouse storage racks need an inspection?
  • When was the last time you had your warehouse and storage racks independently inspected for integrity and safety?
  • Would any of your supervisors or line managers respond, “What do I mean “independent” inspections?
  • Or — of greater concern — would they scratch their heads and ask “What do you mean rack inspection?”
Pallet Rack Safety Regulations
Pallet Rack Safety Regulations

Pallet racking inspection checklist 

But even when a forklift hitting the front end corner of a rack gets reported, a typical management response never goes beyond “let’s go take a look,” as if a quick visual inspection alone will confirm that load limits and structural integrity of the rack have not been affected by the accident.

It’s as if, while other hazards “stand out” to otherwise reasonable and prudent supervisors, there often is an absolute lapse in concern for 100,000 pounds of rack and product collapsing in a pile across the tight confines of a busy warehouse.

It is especially important to have trained, competent, and concerned rack safety personnel when there is a high degree of activity in the warehouse, where there is the greatest risk of rack damage due to mechanical materials handling equipment.

When a rack has been struck by a forklift, one of the first priorities should be to identify any unsafe components in order to reduce the dangers of collapse.

Specific precautions and taking damaged segments out of service immediately may be the only prudent response to prevent possible risk of injury to personnel caused by continued use of damaged racking.

Rack safety is the employer’s moral responsibility and comes with substantial legal liabilities (civil and criminal). Racking inspection checklist – But supervisors should also realize the potential hidden costs of a rack collapse:

  • Replacing materials and damaged goods
  • Use of temporary storage facilities
  • General disruption
  • Workers’ compensation, general liability, and
  • Insurance rate hikes following the loss
  • Legal expenses from defending actions resulting from an accident
  • Potential fines relating to violations of statutory safety requirements.
Pallet Rack Inspection checklist
Pallet Rack Inspection checklist

Pallet rack safety regulations

Warehouse racking safety checklist:

If you operate mechanical handling equipment, it’s critical to inspect your pallet racks. They are excellent storage equipment, but when damaged or incorrectly loaded or installed, they can become dangerous. It’s flat-out smart business to engage in regular inspections.

The process will not only help you comply with safety regulations and work safer, but it will also help you spot poor practices in your operation that might otherwise go unnoticed.

Pallet Rack Inspection checklist
Pallet Rack Inspection checklist

Racking design and Materials Handling Equipment

Storage racking for products on pallets should be designed specifically for the size, shape, and weight of the products being stored. The racking design should be compatible with the pallets and the materials handling equipment in use within the workplace.

Aisle width should be matched to the turning circle of the forklift or other materials handling equipment used to put-away, replenish or pick.

Safe Working Loads

Regular inspection of racking should be conducted both in-house and independent to check its integrity, identify maintenance requirements, and to ensure racking is not overloaded.

Do not exceed the Safe Working Limit (SWL) for the unit load or the safe working total load per bay for the racking.

There should be some means of ensuring that workers using the racking are aware of its Safe Working Limit; e.g. having one or more signs inconspicuous locations, such as at the end of all aisles, which contain the following information:

  • racking manufacturer’s name and trademark.
  • safe working unit load.

Safety Sign Regulations

It is now a legal requirement that if a risk or hazard exists, the employer after appropriate measures have been taken to reduce or eliminate that risk or hazard shall use appropriate safety signage to advise, warn and instruct personnel of the nature of the risks – and take the necessary measures to avoid or protect against them.

It is also a requirement that each employer provides (and ensures that each of their employees receives) accurate, comprehensible, and relevant information regarding safety signage. Also, they must ensure that suitable and sufficient training is given in relation to the meaning of safety signs and the measures needed to be taken in relation to them.

Altering the racking design or components

Any alterations to the racking should be scrutinized by a competent person and should take into account the effects on the Safe Working Limit. Operating procedures, signs and drawings should be amended accordingly.

In a broad sense, a competent person is an individual who, by way of training and/or experience, is knowledgeable of applicable standards, is capable of identifying storage equipment hazards relating to the specific operation, is designated by the employer, and has authority to advise on appropriate actions

Physical alterations to uprights, bracings, beams, or components, such as welding on additional components, should not be made.

Replacement of uprights, bracings, beams, clips, or other components should be with compatible parts. If not practicable, an engineering report should be obtained confirming the integrity and SWL of the racking with these alternative replacement parts.

Operating instructions

Procedures need to be in place within the workplace to ensure that operations are conducted safely with regard to the racking design, the load and capability of lifting equipment, a typical sign that can be used to remind managers and employees of workplace procedures for the safe use of racking.

Operating instructions need to be provided which include but are not limited to:

  1. the correct application and use of the equipment
  2. the safe working loads to be adhered to
  3. prohibitions on unauthorized alterations

The requirement to report any damage incurred due to impact so that its effect can be inspected and assessed (see also Inspection of Pallet Racking below).

Goods on Pallet to be stored in racks

Goods stored on pallets destined for storage are termed Unit Loads. The design of the pallet should take into account the nature of the goods in the unit load. A change in the pallet design should not be permitted unless the:

  • racking design is suitable to support the weight of the unit load, and
  • pallet design keys into the racking and so prevents the unit load from being dislodged.

An assessment of any change to the pallet design should be conducted by a competent person to prevent storage problems arising, such as:

  • changing from wooden pallets to post pallets meaning that the legs do not key into racking
  • using pallets larger than allowed for in double pallet racking, as they can overlap pallets behind or push them off their supports
  • using pallets smaller than allowed for in the racking, as they can drop through
  • using skid pallets in racking without timber decks, as they can drop through.

Boxes, cartons and other such items stored on pallets should not overhang the pallet. Unit loads on upper levels containing boxes, cartons, and other loose loads should be effectively prevented from falling by wrapping, strapping, or by some other means.

Anti collision system for racking

Collision protection: Bottom portions of those frames that are exposed to possible collisions by forklifts or other moving equipment should be protected with post protectors.

Damage reporting: Employees are responsible to report any damage or near-miss occurrences, however minor, to the supervisor so that its effect on safety can be immediately assessed and the hazard eliminated or risks reduced.

Pallet Rack Inspection checklist
Pallet Rack Inspection checklist

Pallet racking safety inspections

Pallet Rack Inspection checklist – warehouse inspections what to look for?

Safe working limits

Are rack load signs posted? …Check that the bays conform to the SWL signs provided by the designer/installer and that the racks have not been altered.

Pallet rack upright sizes

Uprights and footplates

Are uprights damaged? … If the upright shows significant damage, or is twisted or contains splits or cracks, then replace it or splice a new section in. If the upright is damaged and is to be replaced, ensure the footplate is also replaced as it will also have sustained damage.

Are splices in good condition? … Check the condition of any splices. Ensure that they are in accordance with the manufacturer’s technical specifications.

Out of Plumb Racking

Is the racking vertical? … Out of plumb racking is usually due to incorrect installation. Contact the manufacturer or installer.

Pallet rack Braces

Are racking braces damaged? … Replace bent horizontal or diagonal braces. See the attached table.

Are floor anchors installed? … Check that floor anchors are installed and are not damaged. Replace as required. If the floor anchor has been damaged, it is likely that the footplate will have also received damage and may need replacing.

Pallet rack beams

Are beams overloaded? … A large amount of beam deflection indicates the overloading of the racking (the maximum deflection of the beam should not exceed L/180 of the box sections length). Where two beams connect at an upright, the beam connectors should remain reasonably parallel. If racking is overloaded or has occurred previously, the beam connectors will form a `V’. This is a quick and easy guide.

Are beams damaged? … Check for obvious signs of beams being hit by a pallet or forklift. Damaged beams should be replaced.

Are beam connectors or safety clips missing? … Examine beams for damage and replace missing clips immediately. If clips are regularly being dislodged, contact the manufacturer or installer to determine why they are being dislodged, and implement corrective action.

Has a beam popped out of its upright? … Check that beams have not popped out of the upright and are suspended on one end connector only.

Are welds damaged? … If a beam has been hit and may only show minor damage, ensure welds are checked by a competent person for cracking.

Working under pallet racking

Can you walk under pallet racking?

There shouldn’t be any unsecured loads being stored on a pallet at height and a scheme of racking inspections and damage reporting should ensure that the racking is stable. Lighting may be an issue.

Does shelving need to be inspected?

Shelving does require regular inspection to ensure it is safe, particularly if it is in the vicinity of where materials handling equipment such as forklifts are used because the damage will be more common.

Pallet Rack Inspection checklist
Pallet Rack Inspection checklist

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Pallet Racking safety standards

Selecting warehouse storage rack systems involves careful planning and appropriate system choices to ensure you get the most from your capital expenditures, reduce overhead, and respond quickly to distribution needs.

Pallet Racking Types

Pallet racking is a material handling storage rack system designed to store products and materials on pallets in horizontal rows and on multiple levels. Most warehouses prefer using pallet racking systems to maximize the storage space they have available.

How to Secure Pallet Racking to the floor?

Pallet storage and pallet rack installation jobs require an experienced crew with the proper tools and equipment. Many people involved in pallet racking jobs don’t really know how to install a pallet rack. The installation needs to adhere to the design created by skilled engineers who took into account load levels, environmental considerations, building codes, and other important factors when designing the system.

How to secure pallet racking to the floor?

As complex as modern warehouse racking systems are, conveyor installation is a magnitude greater in both complexity and difficulty of installation or configuration. Larger conveyor installation jobs are jobs that should only be attempted by professionals. Many factors must all come together for a conveyor system to function properly and efficiently.

Warehouse racking codes
How to secure pallet racking to the floor?

How to secure pallet racking to the floor?

How to Anchor Pallet Racks to Concrete? … Pallet racks are essential to warehouses and retail centers, as well as to many industrial and commercial facilities. Regardless of the facility, all racks must be anchored for stability and security.

There are several common types of pallet racks available, with each type designed for specific functions.

  • The type of racking required depends on certain factors:
    • desired storage density
    • inventory rotation
    • storage design
  • Some types of pallet racks include:
    • selective
    • structural
    • push back
    • narrow

Once the type of pallet racking has been determined, a floor plan must be designed to allow for adequate aisle spacing. If the storage space requires a tighter configuration, then pallet racking designed for narrow aisles is available.

After the facility racking floor plan is designed and the racks are assembled, the decision to purchase the anchors to secure the racks to the concrete slab must be carefully considered.

How to secure pallet racking to the floor
How to secure pallet racking to the floor

Pallet rack anchoring standards

Warehouse racking codes

Standards for Securing Pallet Racks – warehouse racking codes:

The ANSI document contains recommendations for securing storage racks of various types and heights to increase their stability and decrease the chance they will be accidentally pushed or pulled over.

This is typically achieved by two means; first is to insert anchor bolts into the floor through holes in the base plates provided by the steel storage rack manufacturers. And second is to secure the racks to either the wall (if a single row is positioned along a wall) or to each other (if positioned back-to-back) to provide additional stability.

The exact means and methods to be used to secure shelves and racks are usually dictated by several factors, including but not limited to the height/base width ratio of the racks, whether or not the racks are loaded/unloaded with forklifts, and even if there is a potential for seismic activity in the area.

There are also methods discussed in the ANSI document for securing storage racks and shelves installed in different configurations, and for protecting them from damage caused by strikes from forklifts and other mobile equipment.

In addition, the recommended means and methods to secure storage racks are also typically included in the manufacturer’s information that accompanies the racks when purchased.

How to secure pallet racking to the floor
How to secure pallet racking to the floor

Standard pallet rack dimensions

Pallet rack safety measures – Standard pallet rack dimensions:

Before you construct your pallet racks, however, it is essential to consider safety measures that must be taken to ensure the well-being of workers. When installing new shelving, purchase additional safety accessories to prevent damage during the shelving’s installation and subsequent use.

When installing pallet racks, you must address several potential safety concerns to minimize risk and protect your business.

The first of these concerns is the layout of the warehouse where the company needs its industrial shelving.

Pallet rack anchoring requirements

Considering the type of inventory stocked, fulfillment rates, turnover, and other relevant factors are important when gauging safety accessory needs.

Safety guard rails are a popular choice for protection against layout-related accidents.

Another concern to take into account before construction is the protection of the pallet rack’s upright posts. You can accomplish this with a number of accessories designed to protect these weight-bearing columns from collision damage.

There are a large number of other safety options available, such as safety bars, backstop beams, rub rails, guide angles, et cetera. However, there is one safety accessory you should never neglect: Floor bolts.

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Pallet Racking Types

Pallet racking is a material handling storage rack system designed to store products and materials on pallets in horizontal rows and on multiple levels. Most warehouses prefer using pallet racking systems to maximize the storage space they have available.

Warehouse Racking Design

The efficient, safe design and use of pallet racking storage systems, pallets and materials handling equipment depend on a number of factors. This guide is intended to give an indication of best practice and advice to anyone involved in the planning of a new warehouse or storage facility.

Pallet Rack Design Layout

Pallet racking system – Pallet Rack Design Layout: Selecting warehouse storage rack systems involves careful planning and appropriate system choices to ensure you get the most from your capital expenditures, reduce overhead, and respond quickly to distribution needs.

Pallet racking systems are just as practical as the euro and industrial pallets themselves.

Whether flat pallets, mesh box pallets, or other load carriers –longitudinal beam racks for single or multi-space storage ensure excellent mobility for rapid goods turnaround. Multi-space longitudinal beam rack systems are used in diverse areas ranging from wholesale or spare parts warehouses in the electronics, engineering, and automotive industries.

Single-space longitudinal beam rack systems are ideal for storing goods with the same base area and different heights. Drive-in racking systems have proven their value especially when storing a very large quantity of a limited range of different articles.

Combined with suitable accessories, pallets, and containers, this solution enables products with the most diverse dimensions to be stored optimally.

Pallet racking system
Pallet Rack Design Layout

Warehouse racking system design

Whether setting up or replacing storage rack systems, warehouse operators are often confronted with an overwhelming number of choices. That can be daunting since their selections profoundly affect the “throughput” and the profitability of the operation. On the other hand, they may be offered limited choices because a rack manufacturer or dealer specializes only in certain types of racks, a scenario that is often even more problematic.

Warehouse racking system design:

Because warehouse storage and material handling have a pivotal impact on business, manufacturers, and distributors often turn to storage rack specialists to ensure that their warehouse systems fit their needs. Matching business needs with the appropriate the rack system is critical and entails asking the right questions, as well as planning for the flexibility you need as your business grows and evolves. That flexibility requires doing business with a supplier who can offer a variety of rack system designs, structural materials, accessories, and in some cases, customized equipment.

Pallet Rack Design Layout

Storage design

Because no two warehouses are identical in every respect, it is important to consider and resolve structural requirements and potential building obstructions. It could be that a variety of pallet rack systems of varying densities provide the best solution. Often a customized or modified rack system is needed. Working with suppliers who comply with essential safety and structural standards set forth by the Rack Manufacturers Institute (RMI) is also strongly advised. It may be worth retaining a Material

Handling Specialists to ensure accurate specification requirements and storage rack layout, along with a team of specialists that can help you navigate the increasingly complex process of storage design.

Pallet racking system
Pallet Racking Design Layout

Warehouse layout design

In order to determine your ideal storage solution, there are important safety and design considerations.

Product turnover rate

Product and Turnover: The type of rack, as well as the shelf elevations and storage bay width, will, to a great degree, be determined by your product and stock rotation requirements.

  • How many different product SKUs will be stored?
  • What type, size, and the number of pallets will be used?
  • How often will pallets be accessed?
  • Do you require FIFO (first-in, first-out) or LIFO (last in, first out)?
  • Will processing/picking operations require the integration of automation into your system?

Pallet rack weight capacity

Load Capacity: Load capacity takes into account maximum pallet load, average pallet load, as well as maximum carton load, average carton load, and storage utilization factor.

Rack frame

Rack Frame and Beam Material: The type and configuration of your upright rack frames are determined by both the capacity they need to support and their exposure to potential impact during loading and unloading. Unlike some rack suppliers, Steel King has manufacturing facilities that specialize in both hot-rolled (structural) and roll-formed steel, so it is your racking needs that determine the type of steel that is used.

Existing Facility Features

In addition to the floor space of your facility, take into account all features of your existing structure – ceiling height, sprinkler systems, columns, floor drains. Be sure to account for sloping floors within your facility, as you will be required to ensure that your rack uprights are plumb.

Check your slab-on-grade capacity. Can your existing concrete floors accommodate the weight of the system you plan to install? Do they require any special rack anchoring considerations? You will also need to map out your means-of-egress for both personnel and forklift access to ensure that maximum distances to egress are within code, especially for raised work areas.

Production Zones

Production Zones and Work Flow Areas: Consider the space needed for your production work to safely occur. This is especially important in manufacturing, where you have materials movement around equipment. For a stock and ship operation, adequate space is required for packing, shipping, and receiving areas.

Material Handling Equipment

The material handling equipment to be employed for the movement of the goods will impact rack design factors. Some of the items to be considered are the type, size, and number of pallets to be used, as well as the type of fork truck vehicle being used, required aisle width, and the maximum lift height of the truck

Industrial racking systems

Rack collapse – Industrial racking systems: Why are seismic specifications so critical to pallet rack design?

Seismic building code standards are becoming tougher and more pervasive: Most regions of higher seismic activity now require the seismic design of storage racks.

Seismic zone designations are changing: Seismic zone designations (0 to 4) are no longer in use. Instead, the United States Geological Survey (USGS) uses ground acceleration values, referred to as Seismic Design Categories (SDC) from A to F.

With seismic requirements increasing in many parts of the country and with a better understanding of structural performance during an earthquake event, these standards will continue to evolve, placing more demand on the rack design.

Because the RMI Standard is the recognized U.S. specification for the design, testing, and utilization of industrial steel storage racks, responsible rack users will want to demonstrate that their racks meet this recognized standard for seismic design.

Pallet racking system
Pallet racking system

Pallet racking suppliers

Rack manufacturers: RMI created the R-Mark Certification Program as a way for storage rack users and customers to clearly identify those rack manufacturers whose components and design are in accordance with the RMI Specifications.

One of the continuing trends within warehousing includes automation – in the form of both pick modules and automated storage and retrieval systems.

Both of these systems raise the stakes of a potential rack collapse – in terms of expensive equipment and the lives of people working within the structure. Rack systems should be designed, manufactured, installed, and used in accordance with seismic requirements for maximum safety.

Pallet racking system
Pallet racking system

High density storage

Consider storage density:

Choosing the right storage rack system involves a solution process, beginning with the flow of merchandise which will determine your density requirements – how “tightly” that merchandise should be stored.

Warehouses with high-density storage solutions usually have high or even complete turnover of inventories during specific intervals or seasons. During these times, merchandise is often stored en masse in large bays with few access aisles to maximize floor space.

Conversely, lower-density warehousing is appropriate for parts or retail distribution centers where custom orders are picked continuously to fulfill JIT or other time-critical requirements – bulk shipments coming in one set of dock doors and customized packages going out another set of dock doors. Often located near the center of a distribution center are rack-supported pick modules that specialize in this repackaging effort.

Pallet racking system
Pallet racking system

Pallet Rack Design Layout

Generally speaking, warehouse designers have to work with a space in which certain factors limit the surface area available. This is why the layout has to be carefully planned.

  • When deciding on the internal and external layout of a warehouse, there are three possible scenarios that could necessitate a different assignment of space:
    • the installation of new warehouses,
    • the extension of existing facilities and
    • the reorganization of those currently operating

Even though the last of these options do not involve making extremely important decisions that will affect the development of the business over the medium- to long-term.

Nonetheless, despite the specific circumstances, the general layout of a facility must cover all these needs: (Pallet Rack Design Layout)

  • Making the most of the available space
  • Reducing the handling of goods to a minimum
  • Providing easy access to the stored product
  • Having the highest rotation ratio possible
  • Offering maximum flexibility in the positioning of products
  • Controlling the amounts stored

To achieve these objectives, the first step is to create a warehouse layout, where the design of the warehouse is represented in the form of a plan.

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Pallet Racking Types

Pallet racking is a material handling storage rack system designed to store products and materials on pallets in horizontal rows and on multiple levels. Most warehouses prefer using pallet racking systems to maximize the storage space they have available.

How to secure pallet racking to the floor?

Pallet storage and pallet rack installation jobs require an experienced crew with the proper tools and equipment. Many people involved in pallet racking jobs don’t really know how to install a pallet rack. 

Pallet Racking Types

Pallet Racking Types: Pallet racking is a material handling storage rack system designed to store products and materials on pallets in horizontal rows and on multiple levels. Most warehouses prefer using pallet racking systems to maximize the storage space they have available.

Since they come in a variety of systems depending on your specific needs, it can often be difficult to decide what type to choose of pallet rack for your warehouse. Pallet racking is made up of horizontal cross beams that attach to vertical upright frames – thus creating industrial shelving to support palletized material that can be easily accessed by forklifts.

Pallet Racking Types
Pallet Racking Types

Types of pallet racking

Types of racking system:

However, while these systems have significant storage advantages, a lot needs to be considered when adding pallet racking to your warehouse.

To make this process easier for you, here’s a breakdown of the most common types of pallet racking systems:

Selective pallet racking

The most versatile choice, selective pallet racking is popular as it provides immediate access to every pallet position – meaning you can have as many SKUs as you have pallet positions. Making it the most flexible solution for changing warehouses.

  • Easiest to reconfigure / add-on
  • Lowest initial investment
  • Highest operating costs
  • Least dense
  • Ideal for low volume; high SKU count
  • FIFO inventory rotation

Given the standard nature of the product and limited engineering requirements, it has the lowest initial investment. But, it requires numerous aisles and has the lowest storage density.

The industry-standard for the selective rack is teardrop style pallet racking. The boltless hardware-free design featured on modern brands makes selective racking easy to assemble, reconfigure and re slot.

Double-deep racking, a variant of the standard selective rack allows pallets to be stored two-deep, but still maintains accessibility. To access the rear pallet load, the front pallet position must be empty, and you must have a forklift that can reach two pallets deep. Upper levels can be fitted with guide rails to assist forklift drivers in locating pallets.

To ensure FIFO accounting, two pallets with the same product are stored in a slot of the double-deep rack.

Pallet Racking Types
Selective pallet racking

Drive in drive through racking system

By eliminating aisles drive-in rack prioritizes density over selectivity to deliver maximum storage density. In fact, a drive-in rack system can increase pallet storage by as much as 60% – 75% when compared to a selective rack. But, offers less selectivity than selective racking.

Each bay is typically dedicated to a single product. They work well where an entire bay of product is moved at once, such as in staging products for shipping. Mostly used when you have seasonal items that move quickly in and out of inventory.

When you have limited space or high operational costs like cold rooms and freezers. Drive-in systems are designed for the specific product they are storing. The highly engineered nature of the system makes it difficult to reconfigure or re-slot a drive-in or drive-through system.

  • Ideal for high volume; Low SKU count
  • Greatest storage density
  • Low initial investment
  • FIFO inventory rotation (drive-through)
  • LIFO inventory rotation (drive-in)

A variant of a drive-in, the drive-through rack has an entrance at both ends of the system. While the additional entrance reduces storage density, it allows for FIFO inventory rotation.

When used incorrectly, “honeycombing” can potentially occur. Honeycombing occurs when excess racking goes unoccupied due to poor inventory cycling.

Lower initial investment than a pallet flows racking system.

Designing the system out of structural racking limits damage from fork truck operators driving in and out of the system and lowers ongoing operating costs.

Pallet Racking Types
Drive in drive through racking system

Push back racking system

Push-Back Racking: It requires less space than flow racking because you don’t need an aisle at the back to load the product. Unlike a single-deep pallet rack, a dynamic pushback system allows the storage of pallets two to five deep. Unlike drive-in rack, push-back provides easy access to a variety of different SKUs. Pallets are stored behind each other in a series of nested carts and are loaded from the same side of the system, eliminating separate aisles for each function. When one pallet is pulled, the one behind it rolls forward.

It can decrease labor costs and is relatively low maintenance.

Similar to flow rack, except the pallets, are loaded and unloaded from the front of the system. The pallets can rest on either nested carts or gravity rollers. You only need one aisle for unloading and loading. But, can only be stored 4 to 5 pallets deep. Operates under a LIFO inventory system since the most recent pallet is the first one available.

  • Similar SKU access to selective, but more density
  • Hard to reconfigure due to engineering requirements
  • Ideal for medium quantities of homogenous products
  • High initial investment
  • LIFO inventory rotation

Great alternative if you don’t have enough product to satisfy the ‘Rule of Three’. With ever-increasing pressure to decrease inventories, few have enough pallets of a single, particular SKU to fully utilize a drive-in system. Hence, pushback, which allows users to efficiently store smaller lots, is growing in popularity.

Pallet Racking Types
Push back racking system

Pallet flow racking system

Pallet Flow Racking: Combines a stationary rack structure with a skate wheel or roller conveyor to create a dynamic storage system.

Pallets are loaded into the back end of the rack then travel down the slightly inclined plane of the conveyor so they can be retrieved from the front. Because there is more engineering involved, they are more expensive than others.

Gravity flow pallet rack systems use metal rollers and the force of gravity to feed pallets to the front of the system, where they’re unloaded. Like drive-in, they maximize storage space by minimizing aisles. Unlike drive-in systems, they operate on a first-in, first-out (FIFO) inventory rotation.

They are custom engineered to meet a need and can store as many as 20 pallets per storage lane. They are usually made using structural racking. Pallet flow has the highest investment when compared to other storage options, but there is no need for drivers to enter the system, so operating costs are lower than drive-in rack since it isn’t damaged as often.

  • High density, low SKU access
  • Ideal for coolers, freezers or other expensive operating environments
  • Automatic FIFO product rotation
  • Hard to reconfigure due to engineering requirements
  • Highest initial investment

In order to ensure you have enough product to make a pallet flow system work, you’ll want to consider the “Rule of Three”. This general rule is a quick way to determine if you have enough pallets to make the system work. For example, if you are considering a 15 deep pallet flow rack system, you’ll want to have a minimum of 45 pallets of that specific product. Any less and you’ll find yourself with a system that isn’t being utilized and/or honeycombing.

Once loaded, FIFO product rotation is automatic and the rack eliminates the need for additional labor or forklift operation to arrange loads. Forklifts are only required for the initial and final unloading. Since only two aisles are necessary, aisle space can be reduced by 75% and up to 100% more products can be stored than a traditional selective pallet racking system.

Pallet flows entry guides can be installed to improve pallet flow in the lanes and allow more forgiving pallet placement.

Pallet Racking Types
Pallet flow racking system

Carton flow racking

Accommodates high-volume order picking and reduces the need for operator activity. Similar to pallet flow racking, carton flow racking uses gravity to ‘flow’ cartons and boxes down rollers.
Carton flow has numerous advantages: It operates with FIFO order picking, it can lower labor costs and it is compatible with existing teardrop style pallet racking.

  • Ideal for picking by the piece or case
  • Easy to reconfigure
  • Highest SKU access
  • Automatic FIFO inventory rotation
Pallet Racking Types
Carton flow racking

Cantilever racking system

Designed for products that are long, irregular, and awkwardly shaped. They are ideal for storing non-standard sized items, such as tubing doors and packs of timber or furniture. Relatively easy to install and reconfigure. It is not ideal for storing pallets.

  • Ideal for long, bulky items
  • Easy to reconfigure
  • Single-sided can be converted to double-sided

Ideal for storing long items in continuous horizontal runs because there are no upright frames in the way. Lacks front side obstructions, making loading and picking easier. It can be built as high as service machinery will go. Single-sided can convert to double-sided.

Pallet Racking Types
Cantilever racking system

Racking system design

A properly designed racking system can increase productivity and add significantly to your bottom line. This is especially important at a time when labor is scarce and the price of warehouse space continues to increase.

Pallet racking systems can typically be divided into two broad categories: low-density systems that allow easy access to product or high-density systems that make better use of space but limit access to stored product. Given the unique nature of each system, typically see two or more systems in a warehouse.

Any storage solution should target 75 percent occupancy as the minimum acceptable utilization. But, when utilization surpasses 85%, there is typically a corresponding reduction in warehouse productivity. In many cases, the lifespan of a warehouse can be extended by simply changing the type of storage systems in use.

But, before analyzing any particular system you’ll want to collect some basic information:

  • Capacity needs: Number of SKUs / products and the number of pallets per product
  • Dimensions of a typical pallet load
  • Do You Need FIFO or LIFO Accounting?
  • Typical incoming and outgoing quantities and picking profiles
  • How often do you need to access the product?

Combining different types of teardrop style pallet racking with a warehouse execution or management system offers optimum efficiency and use of available floor space. As a result, you will reduce the costs of managing inventory, including damage, obsolesce, and carrying costs.

What are the different types of pallet racking?

What are the different types of pallet racking?

To make this process easier for you, here’s a breakdown of the most common types of pallet racking systems:
-Cantilever Racking.
-Selective Racking.
-Push Back Racking.
-Drive-In Racking.
-Pallet Flow Racking.
-Carton Flow Racking.

What is selective pallet racking?

Selective pallet racking is the most commonly used pallet racking system. These systems are called “selective” because they allow users to select any pallet load from the pallet racking system without having to move any other pallets.

The most read

More on this story

Pallet Racking system

Selecting warehouse storage rack systems involves careful planning and appropriate system choices to ensure you get the most from your capital expenditures, reduce overhead, and respond quickly to distribution needs.

How to secure pallet racking to the floor?

Pallet storage and pallet rack installation jobs require an experienced crew with the proper tools and equipment. Many people involved in pallet racking jobs don’t really know how to install a pallet rack.