Common Rack Designs

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A well-designed warehouse often includes a variety of pallet racking designs as part or the total storage strategy. There are several factors to consider when determining the pallet racking design that will be most efficient and cost effective for your products and materials including SKU dimensions, weights, inventory quantity, throughput, and desired picking method.

Selective Pallet Rack is the most common racking system design and is best for a high mix of products and low volumes. Requires a low investment.

Using a Very Narrow Aisle Pallet Racking design can increase the utilization rate of your floor space. It is well suited to a high mix of products and low volumes. Requires a low to medium investment.

Double Deep Pallet Racking is another way to increase the utilization rate of your available floor space. Best for a medium product mix and low volumes. Requires a low investment.

Drive In Pallet Racking is a high density storage system suitable when storing many pallets of the same SKU. Used for a low product mix with medium to high volumes. Requires a high investment.

Push Back Pallet Racking is a high-density storage system that provides a greater degree of selectivity than Drive In Racking. Best for a medium product mix with medium to high volumes. Requires a medium to high investment.

Pallet Flow Racking provides the density of Drive in with the selectivity of Push Back and creates FIFO inventory rotation. Used for a low product mix with high volumes. Requires a medium to high investment.

Cantilever Racking is suitable for long length or irregular shaped loads and can be designed for use with traditional lift equipment or side loading forklifts.

Understanding your Investment

Pallet Rack Comparison Chart

The graph above only considers the racking structure itself when comparing the relative investment for pallet racking designs. It does not consider additional costs for specialized forklifts, reach trucks, operating costs, or construction costs which may or may not be a variable within your project.

For example, a system designed with a low initial investment may require a facility with significantly more square footage. A larger building will result in increased construction costs, leasing costs, property taxes, higher maintenance and utility expenses, longer pick times, and more people to generate the same throughput. If you are already committed to a given facility, then you will have no choice but to work with the facility parameters, however if you are building or moving to a new building, then it could be very worthwhile to consider the impact of various systems on the facility dimension requirements, given the long-term and high cost investment.

Our team can help you understand those additional factors and additional costs.  Contact us with your questions.

Other Considerations

Inventory Rotation: FIFO vs. LIFO

FIFO can be achieved with any racking system however some systems will require more procedures, planning, and discipline than others. FIFO is easily achieved with selective racking and pallet flow systems if your system can track receipts or production dates. To achieve FIFO with drive in, double deep, and push back only product received or produced on the same date can be stored in the same “lane” and each “lane” must be emptied before being refilled. System design is critical to help ensure FIFO and achieve density.

Facility Design

It is important to ensure that your facility will accommodate the complete racking structure, including the floor slab, fire protection system, column grid, and lighting pattern. Finding deficiencies in these areas late in the process can be a very costly mistake. 

Pallet Design & Condition

It is important, from a safety perspective, to ensure your pallets are suitable and in good condition when storing product on any racking system. Specialized systems may be designed for specific pallets and damaged pallets can cause significant safety issues.


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