Pallet Rack Choices ImageAre you shopping around for a new or additional pallet rack system?  Perhaps you’re considering taking on additional product lines for a new customer; or trying to meet new fulfillment requirements for an existing customer; or maybe just evaluating your operations to see if any new efficiencies can be found.  Whatever the reason, how do you know which type of pallet rack or storage medium is right for your business?

The latest push-back system looked good at a recent trade show, but traditional selective rack is just so easy and affordable.  Is it really worth a switch to something new?  Well, the answer is…maybe.  A thorough evaluation of your current warehouse, equipment, and operation is the first step in determining if the newest, latest and greatest is for you.  The goal is always the efficient movement of product in and out of the warehouse, but we all know that is easier said than done.  Let’s look at a few key factors in determining the best storage rack system(s) for your needs:

Key Factors to Consider:

  1. What is the available footprint of the warehouse space?  Wall to wall, floor to ceiling.
  2. How are the materials stored?  Pallet, Carton, Case?
  3. How many pallets vs carton or case stored?
  4. How many SKUs in the brand portfolio?
  5. What is the inventory rotation of the various SKUs?  Is seasonality a factor?
  6. What type of material handling equipment do you already own?  Ie. forklift, conveyors, etc.
  7. What is your budget?

A variety of pallet rack types and storage mediums are needed to create the right mix for your fulfillment center…a hybrid system if you will.  Looking at storage density, selectivity, unit load dimensions, order speed and handling time the right system or system mix can be designed.

Pallet Storage Options Strengths and Weaknesses:

  • Floor Stacking – High storage density, but poor unit load accessibility
  • Selective Rack – Low storage density but high throughput volume and accessibility
  • Drive-in/Drive-Thru – High storage density, medium to poor accessibility
  • Pallet Flow – High storage density and throughput volume, fair unit load accessibility
  • Push-back – Good storage density and accessibility from aisle, but low throughput
  • Cantilever – Excellent access, medium volume and low storage density for extra long items

As you can see, depending on the types of products and the manner in which they are fulfilled, certain pallet rack can be ideal, or, not so much.  For example, if you have a high volume single SKU product, then drive-in rack may be perfect. But, if you also have lower throughput, multi SKU products fulfilled via full pallet and case then pallet flow with perhaps a case pick option would be the way to go.  Can both of these systems work in the same design?  Sure. How high the system can be built will be determined by not just ceiling height but by forklift accessibility as well. Another consideration is the usefulness of roll-formed vs structural rack.  Structural rack is much more durable against fork truck impacts and can bear a greater capacity load, but it is more costly than roll-formed which might be all that is really needed in your unique setting.

Falling under the heading of “non-negotiable” is designing within seismic building requirements determined by your warehouse location.  Your pallet rack system should be designed and engineered according to the applicable building codes, fire codes and constructed under RMI specified standards.

Due to the complexities and expense involved in a storage rack design modification or new build, business owners often turn to material handling system design specialists, like E-Distribution to help engineer a custom solution to best address their individual needs.

If you’d like help determining the right storage mix for your warehouse Contact E-Distribution. Our team is happy to help!