Racking systems -Backbone of warehousing

November 13, 2020

Racking systems is probably, the most fundamental element that one can come across in warehouses. With the volume of goods moving across the value chain increasing day by day, racking systems play a pivotal role in warehousing and logistics operations.

Racking systems enable you to store goods vertically, with pallets placed one above the other, thus properly utilizing the limited warehouse space.

With a suitable racking system in place, managers can maximize space and optimize the warehouse for easy order picking and storage. Thus, one can summarize that racking systems offer the following advantages:

  • Capitalize on the storage space to the maximum
  • Increase warehouse safety
  • Ease of accessibility – They enable effortless and fast storage and withdrawal of pallets, with the help of forklifts or stackers.

Key factors influencing choice of racking system:

Before choosing the racking systems, one needs to consider the following factors:

  • Cost
  • Floor space and ceiling height
  • Pallet size
  • Product type and shelf life
  • Frequency of pallet access
  • Number of SKU’s
  • Inventory system to be followed (FIFO or LIFO)
  • Fork truck type and lift height

General types of racking systems:

  1. Selective pallet racking: The most common type of racking used for storing pallets of goods. The pallets are supported on long beams and are directly accessible from the aisle. Also, it is easier to install.
  2. Cantilever racking: Used for storing bulky, heavy items that cannot be stored in pallets. The racking consists of protruding long arms to support such heavy loads. Cantilever racks have no front columns, facilitating easier access and lesser storage space.
  3. Drive-in / Drive-through racking: Used for high-density storage of goods. A large volume of products is stored on support rails that are stored and accessed at a time with the help of forklifts or stackers. In drive-in racking, pallets are loaded/unloaded by forklifts from one side of the system, making it suitable for Last-in-First-out (LIFO) method of inventory management. In drive-through racking, pallets are loaded from one end and unloaded from the other end, enabling the First-in-First-out (FIFO) method of inventory management. These systems offer high volume storage of single or few SKU’s.
  4. Pallet flow racking: Typically used for FIFO type storage, it uses elevated rails with rollers, so that the pallets placed on the elevated side, slide through the rollers to reach the other end, with the help of gravity.
  5. Push back racking: Used in high density, LIFO storage of pallets. The pallets are loaded from the lower-front side, pushing the already placed pallets towards the elevated side. When the pallets are unloaded one by one, the pallets behind come to the front due to gravity.
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