Case study

What is drive in racking and is it the ideal solution for your facility?

Mar 31, 2021 | Pallet Racking

The none-conventional drive in racking system is often found in warehouses and other storage facilities that store large volumes of the same product types. Configured to provide optimal use of floor space drive in racking provides high compact storage and can utilise up to 85% of the floor surface area.

Drive in racking system design and appearance

When compared to standard wide aisle pallet racking the drive in racking structure is highly dense with a more compact appearance. Within the cubic framework you’ll notice multiple deep running lanes positioned side by side without an access aisle between them. The only aisle that is required will be positioned across the front of the structure to allow access to all lanes. The lane spaces are deep and tall without obstruction of horizontal beams running across between the upright frames, forming a channel like resemblance. This makes drive in racking quite distinct when compared to a typical warehouse pallet racking system where pallets rest on pallet shelving formed by horizontal beams. Instead the pallets rest on supported rails fitted along the uprights which run the length of the lane.

Drive in drive through pallet racking


How does drive in racking work?

The drive in racking rails have a ledge-like appearance on which the pallet sits and is supported on both sides to ensure stability and balance. To load a pallet, the operator drives the fork lift truck into the lane and places the pallet on the rails. Pallets are stored in a stacking format, working their way from back to front and bottom to top. The drive in racking system works on the first-in last-out (FILO) basis however there is opportunity to adopt the first-in first-out (FIFO) method simply by adding an access aisle on the other side. These aisles would run parallel with one another with one used to load pallets and the other to retrieve them. This configuration is known as drive through racking and although adding another aisle means slightly less storage it still offers high density storage with the advantage of assisted stock rotation making it an ideal solution for perishable goods.

Drive in racking


Drive in racking components

Drive in racking framework is composed using a number of braced vertical uprights which form the lanes with tie beams with bracing fitted horizontally across the top. The welded base plates provide the structure with stability whilst the guide rails running the length of the lanes are fitted at ground level to prevent collision from the fork lift truck. Pallet rails are fitted to the uprights at each level and these run parallel with the guide rails along the length of the lane. In addition, brackets are fitted to support the pallet rails which in turn support the pallets. At the front of the pallet rails are pallet guides to help guide the operator as they load pallets preventing bumps and knocks from pallets. At the rear of the pallet rails are pallet stops which ensure the pallets cannot be dangerously positioned over the edge of the railing rear.

Drive in racking compoments2


Drive in racking advantages and disadvantages

Before deciding whether the drive in racking system is the right solution for your operation, it’s good to know as much as you can about the potential benefits as well as any constraints:

Drive in racking advantages:

  • If floor space is limited, drive in racking can help you achieve optimal use of space by utilising up to 85% of your floor space as well as making the most of your height space at the same time.
  • As a compact configuration this system can help make huge savings on energy consumption, particularly for those storing goods in chilled or frozen chambers making drive in racking a great contributor to an eco-friendly warehouse
  • A drive in racking system offers high density storage for similar product types in large volumes and low turnover
  • The installation is uncomplicated and adjustments such as changing the pallet rail levels can be later made to support any change in storage requirements
  • This system can be installed to work alongside other storage and pallet racking systems
  • If stock rotation is a priority, the drive through racking configuration can be adopted where the structure is accessed from two entry aisles rather than just one to enforce the FIFO method.
  • If your facility currently operates using a standard fork lift truck, there is no need to invest in new handling equipment as drive in racking is suitable to most fork lift truck types.
  • The compact storage configuration lowers the cost per pallet

Drive in racking disadvantages:

  • Not suited to multiple individual product types
  • Visibility and direct access is limited to the pallets facing the front only.
  • Works on the FILO method so doesn’t assist stock rotation and although the FIFO method can be adopted this does mean compromising a little of your storage capacity.
  • Access is gained by entering the structure using a fork lift truck which means extra care must be taken by the operator

How drive in racking compares to shuttle racking

The shuttle racking system is a common alternative to the drive in racking system. Similarly both systems provide highly dense compact storage without access aisles between each row of racks however shuttle racking is not accessed by entering the structure using a fork lift truck. Instead the fork lift truck places a pallet onto a radio controlled shuttle which sits on the mouth of the deep lanes. Once the pallet has been placed, the shuttle then takes the pallet deep into the lane to its destination. This is a gentle process which means the pallets are at low risk of collision making it ideal for fragile or high value items. Shuttle racking also removes the need for as much manual labour however the process of retrieving and loading pallets is slower as the shuttle needs time to travel so would be better suited to low turnover inventory. There is however a lower risk of damage to the structure as the fork lift truck doesn’t need to enter the system itself. When it comes to stock rotation the shuttle racking system can switch between FIFO and FILO methods and the system is suited to ambient, cold and frozen storage.

compact shuttle racking system


How drive in racking compares to push back racking

Consisting of a cubic configuration housing multiple deep running lanes, push back racking is gravity fed semi automated system which can drastically increase storage capacity. As one pallet is loaded it pushes the existing pallet further into the lane. The system uses it’s built in rollers to assist this and during pallet retrieval, the rollers combined with the slight tilt of the structure allows the remaining pallets to move forward to the next position before they safely stop using an integrated breaking system. Push back racking works on the FILO method however, like the drive in racking system the FIFO method can be adopted with the pallet live racking configuration. This, like the drive through racking system consists of two access aisles, one at each side of the structure. One is used to load the pallets and the other used to pick the pallets on the other side. Push back racking or pallet live racking are both ideal ways to increase storage capacity with the added benefit of reduced manual labour and can benefit cold or chilled storage facilities. If items are of high turnover and you’re looking to pick up speed, push back racking or pallet live racking would be ideal.

push back pallet racking


How drive in racking compares to mobile racking

Mobile racking is simply standard pallet racking mounted onto a mobile base and these are positioned next to each other to form a large cubic compact storage configuration. To gain access the racks can be opened to create a temporary access aisle, however it’s worth noting that only one aisle can be opened at a time. The racks can be moved manually or electronically and once the pallet has been loaded or retrieved, the aisle is closed again. The mobile racking system is ideal for items of low turnover therefore wouldn’t be suited to a fast paced operation however its worth considering if items are picked less frequently and is ideal if you’re looking for extra security for your inventory. Due to its highly compact configuration the mobile racking solution is commonly used in chilled or frozen warehouse areas helping the facility to increase temperature controlled storage capacity at a lower cost.

Powered Mobile With Sprinkler System


Could drive in racking be applied to your facility?

Drive in racking could be your ideal solution if:

  • Your warehouse space is limited and your looking to drastically increase storage capacity without the need to extended the building or relocate
  • You store high number of pallets containing homogeneous inventory of low turnover
  • Stock rotation is none essential
  • Inventory is chilled or frozen and your looking to drive down energy consumption and improve your carbon footprint
  • Direct access to every single pallet is not a requirement

Drive in racking system


If you’re unsure as to whether drive in pallet racking is the right solution for your operation, speak to our team today. After initial contact we can arrange for one of our Technical Designers to visit you at your site wherever you area in the UK. During the visit our designer will gain an understanding of your operational requirements and your goals whilst assessing your space before running through all the options available too you. Our design team use their combined one hundred-plus years of experience and knowledge to advise you on the most suitable solution with the goal of saving your business time and money with improved space utilisation and operation. You may discover that drive in racking is the right solution for your facility however it may be that another compact storage solution would bring more benefits to your operation. Either way, a computerised drawing of your potential pallet racking solution, uniquely designed to meet all your exact needs whilst making the most of your space will later be sent to you along with a non obligatory quotation.

Why not call our team today on 0113 2045350 or email us at to learn the true storage potential of your facility and discover you ideal warehouse racking system.

Get started

Discuss Your Project

Our service is completely client-centric. We provide all manufacturer types, as well as fitters, engineers and inspectors; which means that not only can we deliver your entire project from start to finish, but that we can provide a fully bespoke solution for your individual needs. Get in touch to find out more.