Industrial Pallet Racking Basics

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Industrial Pallet Racking

Industrial pallet racking is a storage system where quantities of an item are stacked on pallets supported by multi-level racks. Forklift trucks are needed to move these palletized items on and off the racks. This system is invaluable for warehousing and manufacturing facilities, large retail centers and distribution outlets which need to move large quantities of goods in and out.  There are different types of rack arrangements that can be used, depending on the storage density required and the floor space and height, among other things. The most common and simplest type is called selective racking, which is usually made of beams, spacers and frames. Supports for the pallets and wire-mesh may sometimes be used.Single deep selective racks are the traditional option, being something of a one size fits all solution that is also the cheapest choice. It has lower density than other types of racks. But it offers flexible loading with access to all positions and placements for the pallets.

Making your choice

Apart from the benefit of a widely used design, low cost and commonly available components, selective single deep racks are also easy to assemble. They can be quickly setup for any one of several different configurations depending on the type of aisles and trucks to be used. For example, it can be a wide aisle design using sit-down trucks, or a narrow aisle design with reach trucks. For very narrow aisles, turret trucks can be used.  The double deep type is a variation on the single deep selective racks system, meant to be used with fork trucks that have a deep reach. The design is the same, except that sections are brought together for the double deep type so that four pallets can be reached by the truck. Other types of industrial pallet racking systems include drive-in and drive-thru, push back and pallet flow, all of which have some kind of mechanized system to aid loading and unloading of pallets.  The push-back type is designed to make use of depth and gravity. Pallets are stored six deep in each bay on top of a cart that has a rail-like arrangement. The cart has wheels that roll on rails to move the pallets. The rails are angled to make use of gravity so that the pallets can roll out or in to the forklift on their own without much effort.

Pallet flow system

Pallet flow systems are an advanced version of the push-back type. In this case, the pallets are stored in much higher densities and use rollers to move along inclined rails set on a sloped plane. The speeds can be controlled using brakes and it uses either a first-in, first-out or a last-in, first out system.  These complex industrial pallet racking systems and pallets of all kinds (wooden, plastic, paper and wire-mesh) have been developed gradually over the last 100 years or so. They’ve been in use ever since trucks started being used to carry the items up to and back from storage shelves. The whole thing doesn’t get much attention, but it is an integral part of a manufacturer’s distribution stage of the workflow, and it would be impossible to handle a warehouse or distribute goods without it.