A Quick Guide: Types of Pallet Racking Systems

Pallet racking systems are the backbone of efficient warehousing operations, playing an essential role in optimizing storage space and enhancing operational flow. Given the wide variety of types of pallet racking systems available, understanding the unique characteristics, functionalities and benefits of each type is crucial in the decision-making process. Selecting the most suitable system can significantly improve inventory management, increase warehouse safety and contribute positively to the organization’s bottom line.

Today, we’ll walk you through some popular pallet racking types, their benefits and some common applications. Ready to explore your storage options? Just read on!

What is a Pallet Racking System?

Pallet racking systems are storage systems that utilize pallets full of items stacked in horizontal rows on multiple levels, allowing you to take advantage of available vertical space in your warehouse or facility.

Pallets are typically loaded onto the racks and unloaded from the rack by a forklift.

What Are the Different Types of Pallet Racking Systems?

Warehouse pallet racking comes in many shapes and sizes. Depending on your application, your facility could benefit from several different types of pallet racking. The first step is understanding what kinds of items you intend to store. Taking a full assessment of your storage requirements is key to developing a solution that meets all your needs.

For example, if your team is dealing with stock that will expire, you may find use in racking types that utilize first-in, first-out (FIFO) storage systems. Additionally, if you’re consistently de-palletizing inventory into smaller carton storage, pallet racking may not be appropriate at all. In this case, you may depend on other racking types like carton flow racking.

Selective pallet rack (pictured) systems require layouts where forklift and worker traffic aisles allow for access to palletized loads at all times.

The only way to determine which pallet racking types can help optimize your storage and workflow is to take facility design and layout seriously.  Let’s take a look at some of the different pallet racking types you can choose from.

1. Selective Pallet Racking

While designing the racking system for your facility, you’ll need to decide how much, if any, selective rack you plan to install. Selective pallet racking is essentially the industry standard for types of pallet racking and works well for environments where you can benefit from selecting from different palletized loads, such as manufacturing or low-turnover retail

A basic, selective rack, in either single- or double-deep configuration, is perfect for warehouses where every pallet needs to be accessible. Especially in single-deep configurations, workers operating forklifts can find and access any pallet in the facility without needing to move any product out of the way.

Selective pallet racking is essentially the industry standard for types of pallet racking and works well for environments where you can benefit from selecting from different palletized loads…

Different Versions of Selective Pallet Racking

Don’t let the simple storage configuration options of selective racking fool you. Within this seemingly basic category of pallet rack are all kinds of different versions in both style and material. 

The first distinction you’ll need to understand is between structural steel vs. roll-formed. Without getting into too much detail, structural tends to work better in environments where durability is essential. Roll-formed, while still strong, finds use in facilities that need to meet the shifting demands of stock that comes in many different shapes and sizes. If you’re looking for more information, we’ve got another blog to help you find the pallet rack material that’s right for you.

Another key distinction between types of selective racks is how you assemble everything. With structural steel racking, you’ll most likely be bolting in components like pallet uprights and beams. With roll-formed racking, a simpler system of slotted openings and clips makes installation a bit simpler. 

Let’s explore some of the popular styles of roll-formed racking.

Teardrop Pallet Rack

When it comes to the most popular type of pallet racking, teardrop pallet racks certainly take the top prize. What makes them the top choice is the sheer versatility of the design. Not only are teardrop-style racks easy to assemble, but you can often find surplus components from different manufacturers that all work well together.

Using popular styles like teardrop racking (pictured) makes replacing or adding components, specifically beams and uprights, easy.

Since virtually every pallet rack manufacturer has a teardrop style design, finding additional parts like columns and uprights is painless. Teardrop-style racking is by and large the most versatile type of selective pallet rack. It can find use in many different warehouse environments and storage applications.

Other Pallet Racks and Brands

Teardrop pallet racks are just one of your options when it comes to roll-formed racking systems. Every manufacturer may have its own way of designing particular styles or proprietary configurations. Here are a few other types you may come across:

Keystone racking (pictured) provides extra storage strength for environments with heavy loads.

2. Pallet Flow Racking

Pallet flow racking, or gravity flow racking,  is a First In, First Out (FIFO), non-static, high-density type of pallet racking system that utilizes a gravity skatewheel conveyor made from either steel or polycarbonate or rollers on beams to move pallets within the system. Pallets are added to the system at the higher end and removed after they roll down to the lower end.

Using pallet flow racking can greatly increase your storage capacity in settings such as freezer warehouses and food distribution centers.

3. Drive-In Racking

Drive-in pallet racking is a popular type of pallet racking in warehouses because it lets you store a larger amount of goods in a relatively small area. A drive-in racking system has only one entrance for forklifts and other lift equipment to place pallets or retrieve them. A system of set arms holds pallets and allows ample space to let a forklift through the system. 

Drive-in racking systems are perfect for warehouses with a large amount of stock and only a few types of products The deep lanes help reduce space limitations and storage costs.

4. Pushback Racking

With pushback racking,  you get a high-density, versatile storage solution. Your pallets sit on carts – 2 to 6 pallets deep –  that slide forward once the front pallet has been removed. Pushback racks are the ideal solution if you want to maximize space in your facility without unnecessarily slowing down your inventory rotation. This type of pallet racking system is so unique because of the inclined rails or nested carts that let your pallets glide forward and back in your rack bays.


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Specialty Racking

While pallet racks come in many different shapes and sizes, what if it’s not pallets that you need to store? For these applications, specialty racking is the strongest option. The most common of these options is cantilever racking.

Cantilever Racking

Not all loads are neatly stackable and of uniform size. If you need to store long, awkward or otherwise bulky items, cantilever racking can help optimize your facility’s storage space. Cantilever racking consists of several familiar pallet racking components, like uprights and braces, but differs in design by having arms that jut out from the upright back.

This allows you to store items horizontally across the arms. Cantilever racking comes in both single and double configurations, with the latter having storage and access on both sides. Another distinct advantage of cantilever racking is that the addition of wire decking makes these racks suitable for palletized loads — giving your facility the best of both worlds.

You may opt for specialty racking options like cantilever racking (pictured) for storing long materials like pipes or lumber.

Finding the Right Type of Pallet Racking for Your Facility

Matching your warehouse operations with the right pallet racking types is critical to getting the most out of floor space, employee workflow and inventory-specific needs. If you’re searching for high-quality pallet racks that won’t tank your budget, consider our wide variety of used material handling equipment here at East Coast Storage Equipment. Whether you are looking for new pallet racking or used vertical racks, we ensure that every piece of equipment that leaves our warehouse is up to our high standards. That way, every customer gets exactly the storage equipment they need. 

If you want to learn about what we can offer your team with our different types of pallet racking systems, contact us today.

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