A Guide to Selecting and Configuring Pallet Rack

Increased storage density is a common goal of many warehouse owners looking to improve the overall efficiency of their operations. The most common way to achieve that goal? Pallet rack.

Measuring for pallet rack reconfiguration or adding new rack may seem straightforward, but like most projects, the devil is in the details. Accurate height, weight and depth measurements save time and headaches by preventing problems down the line.

Even with all the right measurements, there are many considerations to keep in mind. Details about the type of pallet racking, the intended use and the budget can make a big difference in the timely and accurate completion of a warehouse design or redesign project.

If you’re considering adding or reconfiguring pallet racking systems to increase storage availability in your warehouse, here are some tips to keep in mind.

Selecting the Right Type of Pallet Rack

Pallet racks are considered the industry standard for most warehousing applications, and it’s easy to see why. It is versatile, affordable, durable and structurally sound, making it ideal for a wide range of uses.

There are many different types of pallet racks available to choose from. Let’s review a few common designs.

Pushback Pallet Rack

Pushback pallet racking systems are layered vertically up to four deep. They are not recommended for applications that require a high level of accessibility such as high-volume picking operations. Teams that use a first in, last out (FILO) model are more compatible with this type of pallet racking design.

Drive-in Pallet Rack

Ideal for warehouses that have less available floor space, drive-in pallet racking systems offer great vertical storage solutions. These systems can be up to seven units high. They work well for operations that focus on staging and SKU separation.

Selective Pallet Rack

Selective pallet racking is a common type of system that provides a great level of accessibility compared to push back and other FILO systems. Selective pallet racking is ideal for supporting operations that benefit from ample access to pallets.

Selective pallet rack is one of the most commonly used pallet racking systems.

Narrow Aisle Pallet Rack

Narrow aisle pallet racking systems are for warehouses with minimal aisle space. This option is great for storing a diverse inventory of multiple SKUs in low volume. Due to the nature of the system and OSHA standards for aisle width, these pallet racks are typically not ideal for use with heavy machinery.  

How to Select the Right Pallet Rack System

Think you’re ready to make your purchase? Let’s discuss the wide range of things to consider before it’s time to start taking measurements.

Intended Use and Availability of Space

The layout of a warehouse and the type of inventory being stored are the biggest considerations for designing a space that meets the needs of your team. Hiring a warehouse design team is the safest route, as it will prevent mistakes that could cost your team time and money to fix. 

If outsourcing is not within the budget, grab a pen and paper and determine the amount of available space in your warehouse. Once you have an idea of the floor space you have to work with, it’s time to figure out how to optimize it

Ask yourself some critical questions. What inventory needs to be more accessible? How can the floor plan of the warehouse be adjusted to increase available space? Which type of racking would best suit different kinds of products? Is there a way to streamline workflow with a pick module

There is no shortcut to an excellent warehouse design, but these questions will get your team closer to a layout that is unique to your needs.

Inventory Management Processes

This is a natural follow-up to the previous consideration. With an established layout, it’s time to think about current and future inventory management. The type of pallet racking in a warehouse should be compatible with your ideal inventory management process. 

When working correctly, a well-designed pallet rack system will get you closer to your business goals. Consider any available data on turnover and volume forecasts to better understand how each type of pallet rack can support your needs during peaks and troughs.

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Equipment and Laborer Needs

Almost all pallet racks require forklifts or other heavy machinery. Operations looking to add new pallet racking systems should consider whether they have the equipment and labor to make the most of those additions. 

Increasing storage capacity with new racks is great, but if your team is still moving the same volume of inventory due to insufficient equipment support or a lack of licensed drivers, then what was the point?

For teams who have the manpower and equipment to enjoy the benefits of the new racking systems, the additional storage space can be a huge relief and can really help improve workflow.

How to Measure for Pallet Rack Reconfiguration

Now that we’ve gone over the types of pallet racking and important considerations, it’s time to bring out the measuring tape.

Beam Length and Height

Let’s start with the beam length and height. Before starting your measurements, determine how many pallets will rest on the rack. Will you store one, two or three pallets wide? What size of pallet will be stored on the rack? Are these the standard pallet rack size GMA 48” x 40” pallets or is it a different size? These are important questions.

First, measure the length between the upright beams. What is that measurement? Remember, it is not the overall length, but the length of the beam between the uprights. 

For example, let’s say the width between the upright beams is 96”. That means if you store two 40” x 48” pallets per pallet rack, a total of 80” of width is used by the two pallets, leaving 16”.

Building and fire codes require five inches of space between the upright and pallet along with another six inches between the two pallets. In other words, a 96” beam safely holds two standard pallets with the required spacing. While the beam may have the desired width, your measurements must consider the depth of the rack and pallet, too.

Calculating Rack Depth

Rack depth measuring requires consideration of pallet depth. Pallets should have overhang on the rack in front and in the back of the rack. Three inches is typical. Therefore, measure the distance from the front of the rack to the rear. 

Racks storing the standard pallet rack size pallet (40″ x 48″) should have a depth of 42-inches. This provides the necessary three inches on both ends to allow for easy access by a forklift. Ease of forklift access should also determine height measurements.

Maximizing a pallet load is desirable. However, a pallet with product stacked snuggly in the rack presents problems for forklifts attempting to load and unload. This is why the rule of thumb takes into consideration the height of the pallet plus the load and adding an additional four to six inches to the height so there is enough clearance between the pallet load and the beam above — the rack’s next level.

Measuring Helps Determine Load

However, measuring the beam face also provides information on the [static] weight capacity for each level. In the example above, the length of the beam was 96”. Now, measure the beam face from the beam’s top to its bottom. This number, combined with the length, provides the load capacity range. Next, determine the beam’s gauge. It may be 14, 16 or another gauge. This information will provide you with a close approximation of static capacity per level.

It’s important to get your measurements correct for pallet racking (pictured). It’s the key to efficient and optimal storage.

Knowing these basic measurements will help you plan when it’s time to add new or reconfigure existing pallet racks. There are other items to consider such as the number of levels on the rack, the product to be stored and more.

Configure Pallet Rack For Your Warehouse

Knowing the basics of how to select and configure pallet racking systems for your warehouse can be the difference between completing your project on time, or facing costly labor disruptions that cause your customers to lose trust in your reliability. 

Follow the advice in this guide and you’ll be enjoying the benefits of a perfectly designed system that is configured for the unique needs of your team.

If you’re looking for personalized storage solutions, we’ve got you covered. At East Coast Storage Equipment, we provide customized equipment plans that maximize space and efficiency in your warehouse. Contact us to see how we can help.

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