Case study

Warehouse Pallet Racking: What is it?

Pallet racking is a systematised structure which enables the safe storage and handling of palletised goods within a warehouse.  It provides organised storage allowing pallets to be stored across multiple rows on multiple levels with loading and picking made easy and safe with the use of fork lift trucks. Although pallet racking types may vary, all work by converting warehouse space into safe effective storage areas and it’s not just floor space that can be utilised for storage. Pallet racking is a cost effective way to make use of all available space including height space which allows warehouses to fully maximise their full cubic area. By storing pallets on multiple upper levels the warehouses can significantly increase storage capacity within a limited footprint area whilst gaining direct access, full visibility and better organisation.

Pallet racking: From bottom up

Pallet racking is made up of various components and once put together the common problem of space limitation is solved. For standard pallet racking systems the components include:

Uprights – These are tall steel posts which stand vertically and create a frame around either side of the racks.

Base Plates – The uprights are mounted into the base plates creating a foot at the bottom of the frames to create stability. The base plates which are made with a much denser steel are securely bolted to the flooring.

Diagonal Bracing – Situated within the frame diagonal racking braces between the two uprights, these are normally placed through welding

Row Spacers – Where racks are placed back to back row spaces are fitted between them to join them which helps to strengthen and support the structures.

Beams – The beams sit horizontally between the pallet racking beams uprights and are normally orange to signify the mouth of the racks where pallets can be loaded and picked from.

Decking:  These can be wood or wire mesh and are an optional extra which acts as a fixed shelf to support items of different sizes of smaller pallets.

Column Protectors – This are robust steel shields placed around the base of the uprights to protect them from bumps and knocks from forklift trucks

Wall Ties – Where racking is situated along the wall the ties are put into place connecting the uprights to the wall to increase stability.

Other accessories include:

Protection Barriers – The end of aisle uprights should racking protection barrier be protected with barriers keeping pedestrians and people at a safe distance. These are often yellow and can either be tubular or squared

Weight Load Notices – These are vital to ensuring the protection of employees, inventory and the structure itself. Pallet racking is designed to hold a specific weight and the load notices should be

How does pallet racking work?

Once components are put together and the system is installed, rows of allocated pallet storage slots have been created on multiple levels. With the use of a fork lift truck pallets can be loaded into the slots and picked with ease. This principle remains the same across all types of pallet racking systems however there are some differences in how the pallets are managed stored within various structures. Below is a brief description of a few pallet racking types and how they vary:

Standard Pallet Racking (APR)/Wide Aisle Racking

Because of its flexibility standard pallet racking is Standard pallet racking system a popular type of pallet racking and used in warehouses from a wide range of industries across the UK. The system is simply designed to hold pallets as described above and is suited to an array of inventory types. Easily adjustable it can be extended, built taller, aisles narrowed to fit more rows in or racks taken out when not needed.  The system provides direct access with the use of a standard forklift truck so no need to purchase specialist handling equipment.

Pallet Live Storage

Pallet live is a condensed racking system with only two aisles, one at either side one being the loaded aisle and the other being the picking aisle. This system is popular in fast paced environments where stock rotation is essential. The slightly sloped system uses gravity and rollers to transport pallets through the deep lanes once loaded towards the picking face, therefore it uses the first-in first-out (FIFO) method.

Push Back Racking

Here only one aisle is required for both loading and picking and again the racking is compact using sloped deep lanes and rollers to encourage the loaded pallet to travel into the lane pushing back further the pallet loaded previously. This works on a first-in last-out (FILO) method and is ideal where stock rotation is not priority but speed and high storage capacity is.

Mobile Racking

By mounting standard pallet racking onto mobile bases which sit on wheels less aisle space is needed and a compact racking system is created. The racks can be closed shut and reopened one aisle at a time using a hidden motor driven system.  Mobile racking is popular in cold store environments because storage is highly condensed and works on the FIFO method.

Narrow Aisle/Very Narrow Aisle Racking (VNA)

This is an invaluable type of pallet racking system Narrow pallet racking where floor space is limited but height space is plentiful. The aisles are much narrower than standard pallet racking however the racks are much taller. Pallets are loaded and picked using a specialist truck which is designed to fit within the narrowly spaced aisles and reach the height of the racks. For more information see our narrow pallet racking and very narrow aisle racking (VNA) pages

How to choose the right racking system?

Warehouses vary in size and in how they operate which is why pallet racking comes in a number of different formats and can be designed to suite any unique environment.  Before you decide between the different types of pallet racking it’s important that you consider vital new pallet racking systemaspects including warehouse size, inventory types, volume, speed and temperature control requirements as well as your operational requirements and processes. WSL has been designing pallet racking systems for warehouses across the UK for more than 30 years and can guide you through the decision process and talk you through the options available to you.

Would my new racking need regular inspection?

Your warehouse staff should be trained to carry our regular inspections throughout the year and report any issues to senior management immediately. In addition an annual racking inspection carried out by a qualified inspector is a vital part of your health and safety responsibilities. Not only will this keep your staff, inventory, products and overall warehouse safe it will prevent serious cost implications if an incident was to occur. WSL offer SEMA approved rack inspections. For more information see our rack inspection page where you will find details of our rack inspection process

The health and safety of your employees whilst carrying out tasks within the workplace is absolutely paramount so ensuring this is properly managed throughout your facility see our essential warehouse safety tips here

Here at WSL we have been designing and implementing pallet racking systems for over 30 years tailored to suit the needs of each individual warehouse. Before the design process we take time to understand the needs of our clients to guarantee them a pallet racking system design which will fully support their operation. If you would like to discuss your pallet racking requirements contact our Director Brian Varley on 07587 035 034 or email him at or email our team at

Related Projects:

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1000 New Pallet Locations for Major Fruit Supplier

Westmill foods: Racking Systems

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