Warehouses and distribution centers rely on efficient storage methods to maximize their available floor space. Installing a proper storage racking system can help optimize the storage capacity and material handling operations. There are several types of storage racking systems to choose from, each offering unique benefits.
Selective Pallet Racking
Selective pallet racking is the most common type used in warehouses. As the name suggests, it allows pallets to be selectively stored in available openings on the racks. The vertical beams have holes at intervals that allow adjustable shelves to be mounted at variable heights. This provides flexibility to store pallets of different sizes and weights. Forklifts can access each pallet directly. Selective racking is an economical choice that makes efficient use of warehouse height.
Drive-In and Drive-Through Racking
Drive-in and drive-through racking allows compact storage of pallets in lanes. The pallets are loaded on rails from one end and stacked close together with just the fork lift access lanes in between. This allows storing more pallets in the same square footage. However, it does require ‘last-in, first-out’ stock rotation. Drive-in racking has one entry/exit access point while drive-through racking has entry at one end and exit at the other. These are suitable when storing large quantities of similar products.
Push-back racking allows horizontal loading of pallets multipledeep while still providing direct access to each pallet. Carts with wheels are used to hold the pallets. When a pallet is loaded in front, it pushes the cart backwards, moving the pallets behind further back. This allows fitting more pallets in the same space. Push-back racking offers easy stock rotation and access to all pallets. However, it has a higher cost than selective racking.
Pallet Flow Racking
Pallet flow racking uses gravity and slope to automatically move pallets from the loading end towards unloading end in a ‘first-in, first-out’ sequence. Pallets are loaded onto wheeled carts that move along inclined rails. When a new pallet is pushed onto the lane, the last pallet flows to the unloading end. This ensures stock rotation and makes it easier to access pallets without forklifts. Pallet flow requires minimal aisle space and allows high density storage.
Cantilever racks allow storage of long, bulky items like timber, pipes, rods etc. that cannot be stacked vertically. The racks have horizontal arms protruding out like cantilevers on both sides to hold the material. It provides easy access and eliminates need for pallets. However, cantilever racks occupy more floor space. They are useful in lumber yards, pipe storage etc.
Mobile racking consists of movable steel racks mounted on wheeled bases that can be moved side-to-side to open aisles where needed. This eliminates need for permanent aisles. Remote controlled electric motors are used to laterally slide the racks and access material. High storage density is achieved while still allowing easy access. It is useful where space is severely constrained. The moving components require maintenance.
When choosing a storage racking system, factors like type of inventory, size & weight of material, accessibility required, and warehouse layout should be considered. The investment in selecting suitable racks with right capacity will optimize space utilization and improve warehouse efficiency. Companies providing storage racking systems can also assist in the planning and design of rack layouts customized to your warehouse needs. Investing in good quality storage racks made of sturdy materials can provide years of reliable performance.
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With rising land costs, it makes sense to maximize storage density in existing warehouse premises by installing efficient racking systems. The utilization of available cubic storage and vertical space ensures lean operations by reducing unnecessary material movement and handling. The improved warehouse capacity can support business growth and inventory needs for years to come by planning ahead and implementing the right racking systems.