In today’s competitive marketplace business leaders are always looking for different ways to streamline business procedures and maximize productivity. One way of ensuring the a company gets the most out of their storage space is with pallet racking – for instance double deep racking is said to increase the storage potential of a warehouse by around 25%. What are the advantages of the main types of pallet racking systems, and what kind of forklift truck is required for each?
Wide Aisle Racking
This kind of pallet racking uses large shelving units that hold a single pallet or crate, with large aisles around the units that allow forklifts to quickly access them. The advantages of using this system are that it allows fast access to the goods in storage as there is never a situation where access to one particular pallet is blocked. This type of storage is perfect for businesses that have a very rapid turn over of a number of different types of stock – or for a haulage company that deals with pallets of different parcels and boxes. Usually only a standard counterbalance forklift is required to navigate wide aisle stacking, although these may be fitted with special navigational systems to help the operator find the pallet that is required.
Double Deep Racking
As the name would suggest, this type of pallet racking allows crates and pallets to be stacked two deep on shelving units. Warehouses that use double deep stacking can still use normal counterbalance forklifts, although these will have to utilize extended forks in order to access crates and pallets that are at the back of the shelving units. If the aisles between units are fairly restricted then three wheeled counterbalance forklift trucks can be employed for more maneuverability. As you’d expect the speed at which these pallets can be accessed is reduced, but the amount of goods that can be stored in a specific areas in increased. This makes this type of pallet racking perfect for consignments of goods, where all the pallets are identical and the contents of the crate at the front of the storage is the same of that at the back.
High Shelf Racking
One of the ultimate forms of space saving racking is high bay racking. This uses very narrow aisles and high shelving to create one of the most efficient storage systems possible within a warehouse. Depending on the type of shelving it may be necessary to employ specialist forklift trucks to work with this type of racking, including those with telescopic arms that can reach the upper levels of the storage, or in certain cases cranes that operate off of a boom that is mounted on the ceiling can be employed. This type of racking is perfect for maximizing the amount of warehouse space and is ideal for storing factory parts to be used in manufacturing.
Drive In Racking
In a drive in racking system, pallets are stored on special runners that allow crates to be stored deep within the unit. There are aisles at the ends of the racking that allow forklift trucks to drive right through the racking to deposit goods on a first in, last out basis. As well as drive in racking there is also drive through racking, which operates on a similar system, albeit crates can be retrieved from both ends of the racking. This type of pallet racking works very well in climate controlled warehousing where space is at an absolute premium or for seasonal goods that can be stored for a long time until they are needed.
Push Back Racking
This is similar to drive in racking, however it does not require the forklift truck to drive into the unit – instead the pallets are stored on intelligent roller systems that allow crates to be stored deep within the unit. The benefits of this system are much the same as those offered by drive in racking – this system can be very useful if a single lane of the racking system corresponds to the contents to be stacked on a single delivery truck.
Carton Flow Racking
Carton flow racking is another form of dense pallet racking, where normal counterbalance forklift trucks load crates onto rollers, which are set on a slight incline so that they roll down the racking system to the front. When one crate is removed, another slides down to take its place. These systems are best employed when goods need to be picked out of crates and placed into other types of storage or into boxes to be sent to smaller distribution units.
Mobile racking is a form of dense pallet racking with a difference. Each individual row of racking is mounted on a special chassis that allows it to be moved along guide rails in the floor. This means that only one single aisle is required to access any single part of the pallet racking system. This type of racking is commonly found in cold storage units as it maximizes the amount of space available for storing goods.
The future of storage is without question the automated warehouse. With advances in computer technology it is possible to have robotic forklift trucks that take crates to designated storage points within a racking system with an operating system controlling the inventory, placement and retrieval of crates. Many high use warehouses such as some of those used by the internet giant, Amazon, already utilize such technology, and whilst there will always be a place for manually operated warehouses, these may often work in conjunction with software based inventory systems and intelligent pallet racking.
Lee Newell is the marketing manager at ESE Projects who design, supply and install pallet racking systems.