Types of Warehouse Racking: Differences & Benefits | Exotec

Types of Warehouse Racking: Differences & Benefits

Exotec storage racks reaching up to 39 feet tall
March 14, 2024

Racking systems are the backbone of efficient warehouse operations, playing a crucial role in optimizing space and enhancing organizational efficiency. As the primary framework for storing inventory, understanding the various types of warehouse racking is essential for maximizing both vertical and horizontal space within a facility.

Over time, the evolution of racking systems has kept pace with the changing needs of warehouses, adapting to accommodate a wider range of goods, increased automation, and the need for more storage solutions. This introduction to racking in a warehouse sets the stage for exploring how different systems can meet diverse operational demands, ultimately guiding the selection of the most effective racking system for warehouse optimization.

Different Types of Warehouse Racking

Selective racking system in a warehouse

Selective racking systems are the most common within manual warehouse operations

Selective Racking

In selective racking, pallets are stored on horizontal beams that are held in place by vertical frames. These frames are typically spaced apart at regular intervals to accommodate the size and weight of the stored goods. Selective racking is the most popular warehouse storage solution, providing access to individual pallets without the need to move others. This makes each pallet highly visible and easy to load and unload.

Drive-In/Drive-Thru Racking

Drive-In racking offers a space-efficient solution by allowing forklifts to load and unload items from only one side, facilitating a last-in, first-out (LIFO) inventory approach. This system is particularly beneficial for storing large volumes of uniform items optimizing space by eliminating multiple aisles.

Drive-thru racking, on the other hand, allows forklift access from both ends of the racks, supporting a first-in, first-out (FIFO) inventory system. This setup is advantageous for items requiring strict rotation, like perishable goods, though it necessitates an additional aisle for through access, slightly reducing space efficiency compared to drive-in racking.

Pallet Flow Racking

Pallet flow racking leverages gravity to automate stock rotation, following a first-in, first-out (FIFO) principle. Pallets are loaded from one end and glide down inclined rollers to the retrieval end, ensuring that the oldest stock is accessed first. This method is especially critical in the food and beverage industries for managing perishable goods, optimizing inventory freshness, and significantly reducing waste by preventing goods’ expiration.

Push Back Racking

Push Back Racking enhances warehouse storage efficiency by allowing pallets to be stored 2-5 deep, accessible from the same aisle. It utilizes nested carts or trays on inclined rails within the rack structure. Loading a new pallet pushes previously loaded ones back along the rails; hence the name “push back.” This setup optimizes space and facilitates easy access to diverse SKUs, which are ideal for environments with high volumes of the same item, such as retail and wholesale.

Double deep storage racks within an Exotec Skypod system

Double deep storage racks within an Exotec Skypod system

Double Deep Racking

Double Deep Racking is designed to enhance storage by stacking one inventory set behind another, thus doubling the storage capacity within each aisle. While this method significantly increases space utilization, it necessitates a careful balance between density and access, as items at the rear take more time to reach. This system is particularly effective in sectors where consistent product types are stored and accessed at a steady, manageable rate, allowing for efficient use of warehouse space without drastically impacting the flow of goods or operational efficiency.

Cantilever Racking

Cantilever Racking is tailored for storing and accessing long, bulky items like lumber, pipes, or furniture. It features upright columns with horizontal arms extending outward, creating storage levels without front vertical uprights. This open design allows for easy loading and unloading using forklifts. This racking solution is advantageous for hardware stores and manufacturing facilities, providing flexibility and space efficiency for handling and storing oversized products.

Mobile Racking

Mobile racking systems optimize warehouse space by mounting shelves on movable bases that glide along tracks. These bases can be compacted together, maximizing storage density. This design is particularly beneficial in environments like cold or archival storage, where maximizing space is essential. The ability to easily reconfigure the layout and access stored items makes mobile racking a versatile solution for efficiently utilizing available floor space, ensuring that warehouses can adapt to varying storage needs while keeping their inventory accessible and organized.

Choosing the Right Solution for Automated Storage & Retrieval

The Skypod system offers modular, high-density storage racks

To maximize your warehouse’s efficiency and adaptability in anticipation of business growth and shifting demands, it’s crucial to consider more than just conventional racking solutions. Embracing cutting-edge robotic automated storage and retrieval systems (AS/RS), such as the Exotec Skypod system®, is key to future-proofing your operations.

The Skypod system doesn’t just offer increased storage density up to 5X compared to manual operations; it represents a paradigm shift in warehouse management, providing unmatched flexibility to accommodate evolving logistics challenges. Whether you’re adding an e-commerce channel, reconfiguring your SKU portfolio, or transitioning from B2B to B2C fulfillment, the system can meet your needs today and quickly change as your business model evolves over time.

Contact a member of our team to learn more about how we can transform your warehouse operations.

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