While pallet racks systems all generally have the same function, there are many different types to consider when choosing how to store products in a warehouse. Determining which system is best suited for your needs can be complicated, especially with so many different options out there. Below, we have covered the features, benefits, and uses of common pallet rack systems to help make the decision easier for you.
The Selective Pallet Rack
A standard and budget-friendly option, selective pallet racks are probably the one you have seen most often. They are extremely popular due to their simplicity and price-point, especially in buildings where a large number of racks are going to be needed. Selective pallet rack systems are customizable to fit your unique needs. The shelves can be moved up and down and reslotted when necessary, and any product on the rack is accessible at all times.
- Easy to reslot shelves
- Full accessibility inventory at all times
- Affordable compared to other racks
- Not a high density storage solution
- Requires more warehouse space than alternative racking solutions
- Less efficient in storage, loading, and unloading
The Push Back Pallet Rack
Push back pallet rack systems are more expensive than simple selective pallet racks, but they typically make for a more efficient warehouse by increasing the amount of storage in a small space. These racks are multiple uprights deep and feature rolling carts, so one pallet is pushed back as the next is placed onto the nested cart underneath. This allows for high storage density, but it means that not all product is readily accessible at all times. The front pallets would have to be removed in order to reach the ones behind it resulting in a FILO inventory system. Depending upon how many positions each SKU will have, you may be able to structure a pick/put system to create a hybrid FILO/FIFO inventory system.
- Higher density storage
- Saves on floor space
- Increases efficiency and reduces pick/put erros
- Great for large quantities of a limited number of SKUs
- Higher price-point
- Not ideal if you have small quantities of a lot of various SKUs
- Generally requires a FILO inventory system
The Drive-In Pallet Rack
If you’re looking for a pallet rack system that offers the best storage density possible, then you’ll want to go with a drive-in pallet rack. These tall racks feature no shelves, and each slot is wide enough for a forklift to drive right into to place a pallet deep in the system. This allows for large quantities of products to be stored easily, but it also means that the product put in first will be the last pulled from the system, requiring a FILO inventory system. Depending upon how many positions each SKU will have, you may be able to structure a pick/put system to create a hybrid FILO/FIFO inventory system. This system is recommended for fast-moving inventory.
- Extremely high-density storage and space utilization
- Creates more floor space
- Great for fast-moving inventory
- Reduces pick/put errors
- Ideal for large quantities of a limited number of SKUs
- Usually less expensive than Push-Back or Pallet Flow
- Easy to under-utilize (“honeycomb effect”)
- Not good for large quantities of a lot of various SKUs
- Requires a FILO inventory system, but this could be minimized by picking system
- Requires experienced/trained forklift drivers
The Pallet Flow or “Gravity Flow” Pallet Rack
The pallet flow rack system, or sometime called “gravity flow”, pis multiple uprights deep and features rollers from front to back along the “shelf” of each rack which are angled slightly to the front of the rack. This allows for gravity to naturally shift the pallets down towards the front end. Depending upon the depth of the rack system and the weight of the pallets, there is a braking system to ensure the pallets slowly and safely come to a stop. The rack is loaded on one side (the “Charge Side”) and unloaded on the opposite side (the “Discharge Side”), resulting in a FIFO inventory system. It is also possible to design the system to work more like a Push Back System to create a LIFO inventory system if needed.
- Generally a FIFO system, but has the flexibility to be a LIFO system as well
- Great for inventory with an expiration date
- Decreases man hours needed to load and unload
- Increases efficiency and reduces pick/put errors
- High density storage solution and space utilization
- Large ROI if it is the right fit for the situation
- Generally the most expensive option
- Most inventory is inaccessible during use
The Carton Flow Pallet Rack
The carton flow pallet rack system is almost identical to the pallet rack system, except that it is intended for smaller cartons and boxes of inventory rather than entire pallets. It is a great option for fast-moving products, such as food and beverages. You are also able to add beam levels above the carton flow for full pallet overstock items. This will require your stockers to break down pallets as they receive them. Unless you have the floor space to be able to store full pallets at picking level, this is a great solution.
- Great for fast-moving inventory
- First item loaded is first item removed (FIFO), ensuring freshness of stock
- Ideal if pickers are creating rainbow pallets
- Gives you the ability to utilize full pallet overstock storage above the carton flow by adding beam levels
- Extremely good feedback from customers that have made this investment
- Does not work for full pallets
- Required to break down pallets to store them in the system
- Can be a higher price-point option
The Cantilever Rack
The cantilever rack system is designed for storing long products such as pipes and lumber. The items are loaded onto horizontal arms that can be accessed for removal at any time. The system can be ordered with arms on one side or both sides depending upon where the cantilever rack system will be installed.
- Inventory is accessible at any time
- Stores items that cannot fit on pallets
- Great solution for non-standard products
- Able to utilize a single or double sided system
- Only works with specific types product