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Choosing a warehouse racking system

12 July 2018

Pallet racking is a crucial part of any warehouse or distribution facility. An efficient pallet racking system will maximise storage – making the most of the available space by utilising the height and floor of an area effectively.

The success of a warehouse will, in a large part, depend on the careful planning and implementation of a pallet racking system that optimises the available space. 

Types of racking systems

There are numerous types of racking systems, each with its own features and benefits. Every warehouse will have different operating requirements, depending on what it is storing, how much is being stored and how regularly it needs to be accessed; as well as a wide range of other factors. Therefore the best racking system for one warehouse will not be the best for another and you will need to identify the optimum storage for your own facility. Some of the main types of racking systems include:

  • Standard Pallet Racking – Easy to access with a fork lift truck, standard pallet racks have a limited height and wide aisles, so is not the most space optimising solution. However, it is easy to use with basic training and is an ideal budget option for many warehouses. 
  • Narrow Aisle Racking– Allows for extremely high density storage and utilises the height of a warehouse, as the racks are much higher than standard pallet racking, while the aisle takes up less room. However, it requires specialist Very Narrow Aisle (VNA) trucks, which increases costs. 
  • Cantilever Racking – Not limited by pallet-sized bays, cantilever racking is ideal for irregular goods or long loads such as rolls of carpet, packs of timber or bars of steel. 
  • Double Deep Racking – Fewer aisles are required, with pallets stored double deep. Ideal for warehouses storing large amounts of a product, where one pallet blocking another is not a problem. 
  • Pallet Live Racking- Stock is loaded onto one aisle, with a slight incline and rollers allowing the product to slide down ready to be removed from the next aisle - aiding efficiency. There is more room used for pallet storage as there are only two aisles.
  • Drive-in-Racking–Accessed from one aisle only and utilising a first in, last out (FILO) system. This allows more room for pallet storage as there is only one aisle.
  • Drive Through Racking- Useful for items with limited shelf life, items are accessed from both sides of the bay, and the system uses a use a first in, first out (FIFO) system. As with Pallet Live Racking, there are only two aisles, thus allowing more storage space. 
  • Mobile Racking – Racking is electronically powered to move forwards and backwards. This is a high cost option but it minimises aisle requirements as one aisle can service all the rows. It maximises space, but is slow to access so is not useful for distribution centres where aisles need to be accessed at all times.  It can be an ideal cold store. 
  • Shuttle Racking –Goods are moved around on remote controlled shuttles, speeding up the movement of products around a warehouse. More room is used for pallet storage as there only one or two aisles required.

When selecting and planning a racking system, you need to take the following issues into consideration:

  • Budget –As detailed above, there are a wide range of different types of racking solutions, and you will need to carefully balance the initial spend against the cost and space saving that an optimised racking system will bring. 
  • The size and weight of your product –specialist racking engineers can discuss the weight and size of your product and ensure that each tier can take the weight that you require. 
  • Space –Utilising both the floor area and height of your warehouse is essential and will allow stock to be visible and easy to identify. Almost unlimited pallet racking height is available with the main restrictions being on your budget – particularly the type of Material Handling Vehicle (MHV) that you are prepared to use (see below). Taller pallet racking may require laying a new concrete floor to make them completely flat and ensure that they can withstand the extra weight. Using the entire height of your warehouse can give you many metres more storage space than standard height racks but will increase the budget accordingly.
  • Material Handling Vehicles - Your MHV options will be dictated by the type of pallet racking they are required to access. There are a wide variety of MHVs available; from simple forklift trucks, to Very Narrow Aisle (VNA) trucks requiring floor tracking and specialist training to use. 

The importance of design

The right layout is vital to the efficiency of your warehouse. Aisle space must be optimised so that you have space for the MHVs that are required, while avoiding redundant aisle room that will take away from your pallet space. An optimised layout will make the most of every square metre of warehouse space you have available, maximising your storage opportunities, giving excellent value per metre square of storage.

Warehouse Systems Limited – a complete package 

Warehouse Systems Limited can offer your company a quote for a complete package from layout design to installation and can include any extras that may need to be installed; such as barriers. A specialist flooring survey can be provided prior to the purchase of any pallet racking, determining the strength and material of your flooring below the surface, so you have a clear idea of the work required to make your floor durable enough for high pallet racking. 

WSL also understands the requirements of a busy company and is adept at providing storage solutions within very specific timeframes, even working around companies so that they can continue to trade as usual while work is ongoing. Because WSL manages the entire job, from design to installation and inspection, we are able to offer excellent turnaround times, meaning that your company incurs less disruption.

For more information or advice on choosing a pallet racking system or for a free quotation, contact Warehouse Systems Limited today on 0113 2045350.