Pallet Racking Design Processes

During the planning stages of a new pallet racking system, there are a number of issues that are taken into account by engineers and designers.

At times, a company will approach Warehouse Systems Limited with a remit regarding the amount of storage that they require, before their storage facility is built. On these occasions, WSL are able to calculate the number of rows of racking that are required and can advise on the warehouse size that is needed for optimal efficiency.

Often, a client will already have an existing storage space and then WSL will have certain parameters that they need to plan within. The WSL design team assess the client’s requirements before planning the pallet racking. They take into account issues such as:


All design criteria are first and foremost informed by safety regulations. Pallet racking design and installation needs to be compliant with a number of Health and Safety regulations and a qualified designer will prioritise weight limitations, access points, barriers, and other safety issues to ensure that your warehouse is not only as efficient as possible, but also completely safe and in line with legislation.

Planning and approval

The plan will be produced as a PDF drawing on specialist AutoCad software by the pallet racking design team. The client will have the opportunity to offer amendments to the drawing prior to the design being agreed and the installation planned.

Installation design

After designing the product, WSL also needs to design the method with which the pallet racking will be installed. A company may be wishing to fit out a new warehouse and want the racking installed in the shortest time possible, in which case WSL will co-ordinate with suppliers and installers to make sure deadlines are met. On other occasions, warehouses may be moving racking from one building to another, while continuing to trade. In this case, moving strategically, one part of the racking at a time will be vital – the project manager will work closely with the warehouse manager on this to develop a strategy to minimise the disruption to the business.

Installation design

Size of warehouse

The size of the warehouse will dictate the height, width and depth of all pallet racking. Designers can plan layouts to make the most of the available space, optimising aisle space and warehouse height. 

Access and egress

The regularity with which items need to be accessed will play a large role in the design of pallet racking. Products that are infrequently accessed can be stored at great height, or double deep.

Items that need to be accessed regularly and by multiple people will need a design developed for ease of access. Aisles need to be wider, to allow for people passing one another. There will be more cross aisles, to save time when accessing product. Items may need to be reached without Material Handling Equipment, which would affect the height that items can be stored at. Whether items will be removed by the pallet or individually from a single pallet will also have a bearing on the design process.

The pallet racking designer will need to consider additional access issues, such as whether the racking requires walking space all the way around for maintenance or pest control.

The placement of exits will also be a factor, to ensure that pallet racks do not block emergency escape routes for personnel in the event of an incident.


The cost of the various options will usually need to be considered. While some companies simply want the most efficient design available, most companies will have a budget. Designers can suggest several different options that are within the required budget, allowing clients to choose the optimum layout, at the price point that is best for them. 

Weight of items

Item weight will have a bearing on the type of pallet racking that is required. Racking can be engineered to take almost any load imaginable, though extremely heavy loads may require piling of the pallet racking to ensure that the ground beneath the racks can take the additional weight. Therefore, the storage of particularly heavy items may mean a re-design of the flooring, to ensure that it can bear the weight.

Specialist or unusual shaped items

Items which are an unusual size or shape may require different racking types, such as cantilever racking or carpetracking. Standard UK pallets are 120cm x 100cm. Other countries use different pallet sizes as standard. Some large multinational companies even develop their own size pallets to fit their requirements. Therefore, warehouses receiving pallets from other parts of the world may require bespoke racking for these non-UK standard size.

Specialist Requirements

Some companies will have specific requests forstorage or access. There are a number of specialist products available, such as automated systems which bring the pallet you require directly to you when requested. Mobile pallet racking saves on aisle space, but means that items will take slightly longer to access. This may be of particular benefit for high value, rarely accessed items, such as museum storage, as the racking can be locked in place and accessed when required. Cold storage, humidity controlled storage and other controlled environments can all be designed to suit specialist requirements.

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