Case study

There’s more to pallet racking than just storage

We all recognise pallet racking as a structure built within storage facilities on which pallets in high quantities can be stored and although the principal role of the pallet racking system is storage, the structure which is available a many formats can play multiple crucial roles within the warehouse:

Pallet racking for space utilisation

Whatever the size of the warehouse, space utilisation is a priority because it benefits the business hugely in terms of cost, time and productivity. Pallet racking is structured to hold row after row of pallets and these rows are multi levelled to allow the warehouse to store more pallets within the same surface area. That being said, every warehouse if different in terms of floor space, height space and how it operates so to ensure every warehouse has the opportunity to utilise all available space a bespoke pallet racking solution can be adopted using one of the following pallet racking types:

Wide Aisle Pallet Racking

Consisting of racking rows with service aisles running between them, this is pallet racking in its simplest form. The standard configuration makes great use of space by storing pallets in high volume on as many rows and levels as the building allows. There is also the option to place the rows back to back creating the double deep racking configuration which reduces aisle numbers and increases pallet spaces within the same footprint area.

Wide Aisle Racking

Shuttle pallet racking

Ideal for full cubic space utilisation, shuttle racking provides deep lane storage in a compact format with racks in the place of fixed aisles. Pallets are transported through the deep running lanes using a radio controlled shuttle after being placed by a fork lift truck.

Mobile Pallet Racking

Using up to 90% of floor space, mobile racking takes way the need for fixed service aisles between the rows and instead uses the space to increase storage capacity. The racks are mobile having been fitted only movable bases and will open to create one service aisle at a time as and when needed.

Pallet live and push back pallet racking

A slightly tilted deep storage system that uses gravity and rollers to move the pallets along the lane once they have been placed by the fork lift truck. With a maximum of only two aisles located on the outskirts of the compact structure, storage density is drastically increased. Pallet live racking picks and retrieves pallets on opposite sides therefore two service aisles are required whereas push back racking load and retrieves pallets on the same side so only one aisle is required making storage capacity slightly greater.

Push Back Pallet Racking - front View

Narrow and very narrow aisle pallet racking

Overhead space is often dismissed as usable space, yet putting it to good use has so many benefits. Consisting of very tall racks that can reach ceiling height with very narrow working aisles between them, narrow aisle racking makes full use of both floor and height space.

Drive-in drive-through pallet racking

The racks in a compact configuration are accessed by a fork lift truck which can enter and navigate the lanes of drive-in drive-through racking. This is because the pallets rest on rails that run the length of the lane rather than beams that run horizontally across the width of the bay like they do on other pallet racking types. The compactly stored pallets are placed in a back to back, bottom to top sequence and are accesses by just one or both sides.

Drive in racking Aisle View 2

Pallet racking for inventory management

All of the above pallet racking configurations are designed to increase storage capacity and make full use of space however inventory type is a contributing factor when deciding which pallet racking type is the most suitable for your operation. To ensure you choose a solution that provides maximal use of space whilst controlling stock and minimising waste consider your stock in terms of:

Shelf Life – The risk of stock wastage is much higher when handling perishable goods. The cost implications of wasted stock can be significant and is often a result of incorrect manual stock rotation. Offering assisted stock rotation certain pallet racking types take away the need to rotate stock manually simply by working on the First-in First-out (FIFO) basis. The highly compact pallet live racking system takes pallets on one side before the pallet makes its own way along the deep running lane towards the picking side from where it can be retrieved.  Drive-through racking enables access from opposite directions allowing a FIFO method as one side loads and the other retrieves the pallets. There’s also the option to adopt the FIFO method when using a shuttle racking system provided there is an access aisle on both sired of the structure.

Turnover – The right support for the speed and volume of your inventory is crucial to your overall operation so it’s important to learn the different speed capabilities of each type. For fast moving inventory pallet live racking is an ideal option particularly for those whose stock requires rotation. push back racking is just as effective when it comes to speed and offers even more storage capacity as it has no need for two working aisles. There are ways to increase the speed of some pallet racking systems such as the narrow aisle racking system where picking and deposit stations (P&Ds) can be fitted to allow both counterbalance and slim line specialist trucks to work together. Retrieval times can be made faster when using the drive-in drive-through racking system with self centring rails so the operator doesn’t need to spend time realigning the pallets manually. For operations managing a slower movement of inventory, the shuttle racking system which uses a radio controlled shuttle to transport the pallets within the structure moves at a slower pace. Operators must allow time for the shuttle to travel through the lanes as it picks and retrieves one pallet at a time although multiple shuttles may be used to speed the process up. Mobile racking is also ideal for slower moving inventory as the temporary aisles must first be opened before access and because only one aisle can be opened at one time, accessing inventory on different rows can take longer.  A pallet racking system with good visibility and access to every pallet such as wide aisle pallet racking or narrow aisle racking have the advantage of quicker retrieval times than the compact systems where pallets are not always immediately visible or accessible.

Narrow-Aisle racking

Variety – It’s pretty straightforward when inventory is consistently the same type of product, however some operations manage a variety of different product types and for others their product lines can suddenly change. Such operations require versatility and adaptability which is why many opt for the wide aisle racking system as it’s easy to adapt to changing needs. Beams can be altered to change the bay height and the racks can be extended or reduced to change the height and length of the rows. This is just one of the many reasons why wide aisle racking is number one choice for operations in countless industries.

Value or Delicacy – Some pallet racking types offer extra security which is ideal for high value or particularly delicate items. The mobile racking system for instance can shield pallets from exposure to light, dust or insecurity because the pallets are enclosed within the compact rows for the majority of the time. Narrow aisle racking can be used to store the highest value items on the top racks so they are further away from any risk or threat and as shuttle racking moves pallets in a gentle motion it’s ideal for delicate items.

Pallet racking for operational efficiency

The energy costs of a cold store or frozen chamber can be particularly high however a compact pallet racking system can help reduce these costs of temperature controlled storage. Push back racking for example can drastically reduce energy consumption which in turn lowers costs and reduces carbon footprint because it allows more product storage within the same surface area. Pallet live racking, shuttle racking, mobile racking and drive-in drive through racking are all compact racking systems  and all suitable for chilled or frozen storage. Labour is also an unavoidable cost however this can be reduced or be of more value with automation which means less time is spent on manual stock rotation or handling pallets.

For more information on pallet racking types and capabilities, please see our very detailed pallet racking guide which was put together using the knowledge and expertise of the WSL Technical Design team.

If you’re looking for a pallet racking system that not only stores your pallets but also supports your operation and saves you money, why not speak to the pallet racking experts at WSL! Begin the journey with a call to us on 0113 2045350 or email sales@wslmail.co.uk to arrange a site visit from one of our expert Design Technicians

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