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The last pallet racking guide you’ll ever need

Feel accomplished in your knowledge and understanding of pallet racking with this exclusive guide powered by the expert knowledge and experience of WSL’s pallet racking design technicians, project managers and installers. Here we cover every aspect from every angle so read on if you’re ready to discover the ins and outs of pallet racking.

What exactly is pallet racking?

Where there’s a warehouse or storage facility, there’s likely to be pallet racking, a typically tall, slender grid-like steel structure featuring uniformed box shaped cavities in which fully loaded pallets can be stored and retrieved using a fork lift truck.Pallet racking is a sturdy independent structure designed to increase storage capacity within the same footprint area by allowing the safe storage of pallets in horizontal rows on multiple levels.

Image of pallet racking and fork lift truck

 

How can pallet racking benefit my particular storage facility?

The great thing about pallet racking is that it comes in many different formats giving you the opportunity to select a system which will bring the most benefits to your particular operation and ease the challenges of warehouse management. Through careful design a pallet racking system becomes a solution that provides vital support to your operational needs resulting in an efficient, streamlined process. With WSL at the helm of your project your specific requirements can be met through our ability to meticulously design your unique pallet racking solution. Whatever the size of your facility and however complex your operation our design technicians use their wealth of knowledge and experience to ensure your pallet racking solution is designed to:

Make full use of your space–Space comes at a great cost, so our aim is to help you get the most from the space you’re paying for.  The full cubic area of your facility is valuable space and storage potential can be maximised by utilising both floor and height space.

Support the characteristics of your inventory – With the right design, pallet racking can accommodate your specific inventory needs, even if they vary. This includes speed, temperature control and shelf life requirements.

Save you money – By exploiting the space you already have, there’s no need to relocate or expand the premises. The perfect pallet racking solution designed by our team within your budget can even see a return on your investment.

Increase productivity – A pallet racking system that works for your operation and space will also work for your processes. A streamlined process leads to an increase in productivity resulting in improved customer service and increased profitability.

Pallet racking view from height

 

How does pallet racking vary in its capabilities?

It largely depends on your business requirements, which pallet racking system you choose. We have highlighted some of the ways pallet racking can assist your operational needs:

Assisted stock rotation – For many warehouses, the need to rotate stock is essential however this can be time consuming and mistakes can be made when completing this task manually. Pallet racking with assisted stock rotation works on a First-in First-Out (FIFO) basis, which means the fist pallet loaded into the racks will be the first to be picked resulting in automatic stock rotation.

Increase throughput speed– For a fast paced warehouse speed is critical whilst maintaining accuracy and this is where a live pallet racking system can be really beneficial. Reducing the need for manual labour which can be diverted to more

Direct Access– If direct access is a priority with clear visibility there are a range of pallet racking systems that can utilise space and store in a space friendly manor whilst pallets are in full view and can be accessed immediately.

Reduce energy consumption – Running a temperature controlled warehouse comes with additional expense and certain pallet racking types can drive those expenses down simply by storing pallets in a compacted format. The more pallets you can store with a certain footprint area, the less energy is consumed which in turn reduces energy costs.

Full Automation – The cost of labour is high so using labour where it’s most needed is crucial to ensuring costs are allocated sufficiently. Using a fully automated pallet racking system takes a large amount of labour costs from your operation allowing physical labour to be utilised in areas of more importance.

What are the different types of pallet racking?

Pallet racking types easy read chart

 

Wide Aisle Pallet Racking – Often referred to as Standard Adjustable Pallet Racking (APR) this is the simplest form of pallet racking, yet it offers immense versatility. Ever-popular and suited to all types of different industries and environments wide aisle pallet racking is a standard pallet racking structure that can be designed and built to suite your space, inventory and operational needs. Enabling uniformed pallet racking storage with pallets stored in rows on multiple levels with a spacious aisle between the rows allowing the fork lift truck plenty of room to manoeuvre. If you’re concerned about the ability to support future changes, worry not because wide aisle pallet racking can be adjusted easily at any point to support any changes in your needs.

The key factors of wide aisle pallet racking:

  • A low cost solution
  • Flexibility
  • Direct access
  • Suitability to any environment including cold or frozen chambers
  • No need to invest in a specialist fork lift truck

Wide aisle or adjustable pallet racking

 

Pallet Live Racking – Offering compact storage whilst assisting stock rotation by using the FIFO method this is a system widely used to store and handle food, beverage, and pharmaceutical products.  Supporting the continuous flow of items in high volumes in date order, pallet live racking can reorganise your operation with a fully optimised picking process. The compact structure uses multiple lanes rather than multiple aisles increasing storage density by 70%. The pallets are moved by gravity once placed into the structure where incorporated rollers allow the pallet to travel within the tunnel-like lane from the loading point towards the picking face.  By using pallet live racking you can maximise your floor space by eliminating the need for numerous aisles. One aisle at either side of the compact structure is required, one used to load and the other to retrieve pallets so the rest of the space is utilised for storage.

The key factors of pallet live racking:

  • Assisted stock rotation using the FIFO method
  • Highly dense, compact storage
  • Direct Access
  • Increased throughput speed
  • Maximum use if floor space
  • No need to invest in a specialist fork lift truck
  • Can reduce energy costs in temperature controlled environments

pallet live racking system

 

Push Back Pallet Racking – Very similar to pallet live, push back pallet racking is a deep storage system, using the natural energy source, gravity and long running lanes in which to manoeuver and store loaded pallets. Providing an intelligent use of floor space, the push back pallet racking system only requires one aisle on which operators gain access to carry out both loading and pallet retrieval activities freeing up the remaining floor area to be utilised for storage purposes. Push back pallet works on a First-In Last-Out basis so if you’re looking to increase storage capacity in your exiting space and stock rotation isn’t a priority, then this could be the system for you.

The key factors of push back pallet racking:

  • Uses the FILO method
  • Highly dense, compact storage
  • Direct access to frontal facing racks
  • Increased throughput speed
  • Maximum use if floor space
  • No need to invest in a specialist fork lift truck
  • In cold or chilled warehouses, energy consumption can be greatly reduced

push back pallet racking

 

Radio Shuttle Pallet RackingRadio shuttle pallet racking provides deep storage for pallets in large quantities in a compact configuration.  Using rails rather than beams the pallets are loaded onto a radio controlled shuttle at the entrance of the rack lane which then transports the pallet deep into the structure. Loading and retrieving a pallet takes little effort and time so labour can be utilised elsewhere. Shuttle racking is an impressive system which promotes safety, practicality and sophistication. It provides great space utilisation and because the chance of pallets nudging each other is minimised, the most valuable and fragile goods can be stored without worry.

The key factors of radio shuttle pallet racking:

  • Can use both FILO and FIFO methods
  • Highly dense, compact storage
  • No need to invest in a specialist fork lift truck
  • Maximum use full cubic area

radio shuttle racking

 

Double Deep Pallet Racking – The smart configuration of standard pallet racking arranged back to back results in double deep pallet racking which enables you to store two pallets deep rather than one with the use of longer length fork lift truck fork attachments. This is a highly affordable solution which reduces the space needed for fixed aisles whilst at the same time increases storage capacity. By using the highly adjustable standard pallet racking the double deep configuration can be adjusted easily and quickly to accommodate your changing needs.

The key factors of double deep pallet racking:

  • Can adopt the FIFO method if required
  • Simple and easy to use
  • Increased density with high selectivity
  • Direct access
  • Flexible and adjustable
  • Suitable in cold or frozen storage areas

double deep pallet racking

 

Narrow Aisle Pallet Racking –It’s common for floor space to become very tight with no room for manoeuver but narrow aisle racking is cleverly designed to  make as much use as possible of both floor and height space combined. Narrow aisle racking can be built as tall as your ceiling allows and reducing the aisle width at the same time will drastically increase storage capacity. Access is made easy with specialist slim-line, high reaching fork lift trucks which are rail guided so the risk of collision resulting in damage is minimised. There is a need to ensure the floor surface is completely flat to ensure the trucks stay level when navigating the aisles and loading or retrieving pallets.

The key factors of double deep pallet racking:

  • Direct access to every pallet
  • Full use of both floor and height space
  • Risk of damage greatly reduced
  • Safer handling
  • Suitable for cold and frozen warehouses

Very narrow aisle pallet racking

 

Mobile Pallet Racking – This clever design reduces the need for permanently fixed aisles completely. Instead the system which consists of standards pallet racking mounted onto a mobile base will allow you to open one aisle at a time as and when required. Highly compact, mobile racking provides maximum use of r floor space, and because the structure is closed until pallets are required your inventory is safe from light, dust and other elements.  This is a system most suited to low turnover goods and keeps high value or archive items protected. Its compact structure makes it ideal for reducing energy consumption in frozen or cold storage.

Key factors of mobile pallet racking:

  • Reduces energy costs in cold or frozen storage chambers
  • Extra safe storage
  • Maximum use of floor space
  • No need for specialist handling equipment
  • Risk of damage reduced

 

Drive in & Drive Through Pallet Racking–A deep storage system in which operators on fork lift trucks can enter to store and retrieve pallets which are stored back to back, floor to ceiling. Drive in pallet racking gives access using one aisle and works on the FILO basis whereas drive-through is accessed from an aisle at either side and works on the FIFO basis assisting with stock rotation.

Key factors of drive-in & drive through pallet racking:

  • Economic high volume storage
  • The option to adopt assisted stock rotation
  • Great stock management
  • Conventional fork lift trucks are suitable

Drive-in Drive-through pallet racking

 

How do I know which pallet racking system is best for my facility?

Meeting customer expectations plays a crucial role in the success of a business, and those businesses who work towards this goal from a warehouse rely heavily on their pallet racking and storage systems to help them achieve this. This increases the necessity to implement a system that works to not just support but enhance your operation, but how can we be certain of a particular choice?

Use expert knowledge and experienceFor over thirty years WSL has been designing and implementing bespoke pallet racking solutions to suit all types of warehouse operations in all types of industries and successfully improved productivity as a result of each project.  With WSL there is no make-do solution, we bring to bear our extensive knowledge, experience and expertise to ensure the optimum solution for your facility, however big or complex.  During an initial site visit we will take and discuss details as we get to know and understand your operation and goals. During our initial visit we will:

Get a Measurement of your space–Our designer will take into consideration your floor and height space availability and if in operation, how your space is currently used and ways in which it could be improved.  Being mindful of the full cubic area opens opportunities to consider pallet racking solutions from a much wider choice.

Take details about your business and operational methods – Whether it’s a fast paced ecommerce warehouse or a steady but delicate service you provide, your business and how it operates is a domineering factor to pallet racking suitability. Taking the time to know everything there is to know about how your business operates is essential to ensuring our designers produce a solution that will perfectly match your operational needs.

Gather information about your inventory characteristics – Whilst on site our designer will ask for details about your inventory type to ensure a solution that will support your inventory needs. This will include turnover, speed, temperature control requirements and whether goods are perishable.

Consider your pallet numbers – By gathering information on the intended number of pallets you aim to store at one time, our designer can ensure a design that will match your required capacity.

Look for Fire safety exits and locations- Vital to the design, our technician will assess fire safety aspects and include these in the design so you can rest assured that in the event of a fire, all persons in the building can exit safely and swiftly.

Note existing fixtures and features – When spotted early, restraints can be addressed and worked around. Our designer will look out for any structural features and fittings which could include structure supporting columns, heating systems or lighting and note their location to ensure these go unaffected.

Calculate you floor load capacity–Pallet racking is a heavy structure and it’s vital that your floor can take the weight so our designer will assess your floor to be sure it won’t weaken under significant weight.

Ask about your fork lift truck specifics – Do you already have fork lift trucks that you intend to keep using or is there a possibility of purchasing new fork lift trucks? Pallet racking can vary in compatibility to certain fork lift truck types so this is a key element our designer will want to discuss during the survey to ensure your solution matches the capabilities of your handling equipment.

Review directional flow, departmental space and locations – For the optimal layout our designer will learn the locations of goods in and goods out, to create a design that positions various departments accordingly to ensure the process is sequentially streamlined to save time and confusion.

Easy to follow Inventory directional flow diagrams

 

Establish your short and long term goals – Our pallet racking solutions can designed to meet your precise needs, this includes future changes. If you anticipate a surge in demand due to a planned expansion of services, seasonal changes or even if you’re not sure whether the need to increase storage capacity will occur, we can future proof your design. This makes changes, whether planned or unexpected simpler and faster.

Can I see a plan of my pallet racking design before I decide?

Our design technicians use modern technology to produce a computer assisted plan of your new pallet racking system. By using this, you can visualise your new pallet racking system in conjunction with the warehouse layout and essential details including fire exits and safety barriers. See our example bellow:

Warehouse racking and layour plan example

 

Will I require pallet racking decking?

Decking provides additional support for variable sized pallets and loads and is available in different varieties:

Timber decks: These timber slabs are a popular choice. An affordable and comprehensive solution, timber decks provide sturdy support to prevent items falling from the rack. It’s worth noting that in the event of a fire, timber decking is less resistant.

 Mesh decks: Made of hard steel wire sized to suit your loads, mesh decks are ideal for small but heavier items.  The gaps between the wires create more visibility from various angles and prevent dust from accumulating on the shelf. Mesh decking is more resistant to fire than timber decks, but it a more expensive choice.

 Chipboard decks: If it’s a short term solution you’re looking for then chipboard decks might be for you. This is a low cost solution, made from wood chippings and is quick and easy to install. Chipboard is less resilient to damp and fire and can weaken over time.

 Steel decks: The most expensive choice, yet the strongest in terms of durability and exposure to heat, water and smoke. Made of steel these slabs will last and can hold even the heaviest of weights.

Images of different decking types

 

Choosing the right decking for your racking system will require an assessment of your storage needs and your inventory requirements

What safety features should I consider?

Protect your staff and visitors by keeping your pallet racking structure guarded. Here’s how:

Weigh load notices: Ensure your operators understand the weight load capacity of the racks they are working with by displaying weight load notices. A key safety feature in any warehouse, weight load notices use diagrams and colours making them quick and easy to read and understand

weight load notice mounted to pallet racking structure

 

Upright Protection:  These are placed around the bottom of your pallet racking uprights to prevent collisions from fork lift trucks and other handling equipment impacting the structure directly.

Upright protection

 

Bump stops: By placing a protective barrier at the end of each aisle you can be sure that if handling equipment was to veer towards your end frames, your structure won’t be affected.

end of aisle protection

 

Both of the above protection systems are available in various forms and can be manufactured by WSL who as a full SEMA member guarantees the highest safety standards.

Mesh and nets: It’s possible for loose items to fall from your racking and this can be controlled and prevented with the use of mesh or netting which wraps around the back of your racks. This allows staff to access areas close to the back of the racks without risk of injury from falling items.

mesh protection

 

Segregated walkways: Structure your warehouse with controlled traffic by introducing segregated walkways. This keeps pedestrians safe and prevents accidents near and around your racking areas.

segregated walkway

 

Will my racking require regular inspections?

An annual rack inspection is certainly worth investing in as it will keep your racks safe and secure and prevent catastrophes caused by damaged racks in the future. Conforming to SEMA code of practices, WSL has the knowledge, experience and qualifications to carry out your rack safety checks. To find out more about our inspection process see our pallet racking inspection page.

rack inspection image

 

How much will my pallet racking project cost?

Cost can vary due to a number of contributing factors however WSL provide a free site survey which will enable us to provide an accurate price. For price assumptions please see our guide to pallet racking costs

How can I incorporate additional project works without complication?

If you’re looking to implement pallet racking with lighting, alarms and smoke detection for example WSL can take care of all additional works as part of our service. Our turnkey service allows you to focus on other things and simplifies the project by having one point of call for all aspects. Over the last thirty plus years, WSL has build strong relationships with contractors in other trades who we use due to their impeccable knowledge, experience and their commitment to health and safety.

Would you like to discuss your individual requirements with one of our expert design technicians? Call WSL today on 0113 2045350 or email us at sales@wslmail.co.uk we will be more than happy to help.

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