Small or large, your warehouse should be efficiently organised to optimise storage space as well as working efficiency. Among the primary factors to consider are:-
- Floor space available
- Ceiling height
- Products stored
- How frequently you access the products
- System of inventory control – last in first out or first in first out
- Lift height that the forklifts can provide
Once the above factors are determined, it gets a lot easier exploring different types of pallet racking options available in the market. The primary options available include:-
- Selective racking
- Push back and flow racks
- Drive through/Drive in
- Narrow Aisle pallet racking
- Cantilever racking
- Wide aisle racking
That gives you wide enough variety to choose a system that best answers your needs. The best way to gain a close-up understanding of the advantages and disadvantages of each system is to examine the details of all of them. When you reach the stage of exploring vendors for one or more systems that you finally zero down to, there are a couple of things you can do to enhance your knowledge. Ask one or more vendors to arrange for visits to other warehouses where similar systems are already installed. Most vendors will be more than happy to do this. Such visits will also give you an opportunity to understand any pitfalls associated with a particular system. Or, you will see how another system is efficiently catering to a business similar to yours.
Now, let us examine the different types of pallet racking in greater detail.
The most common pallet racking system in vogue is Selective racking. Selective racking system configuration is more like a giant shelving system and has vertical beams supporting series of horizontal beams which create the individual shelves to hold each pallet. You can find this type of racking system in use in many distribution centres since the pallets are quickly accessible from the aisle. One aspect you will have to focus on while choosing selective racking is storage density. Space must be set aside for the aisle, and this will impact your storage density.
Push back/flow racks
Flow racks use gravity conveyor for positioning the pallet in the exit position making it easy to access for loading. When one pallet is loading, the other pallet moves forward to the ready position and the process continues. Flow racks facilitate rear loading which also means that you will be operating a first in first out inventory management system. Push back systems on the other hand work on the principle of first in last out inventory management system. This type of pallet racking is ideal when you have mass quantities to be stored. On the flip side, these are also among the most expensive pallet racking systems available.
Drive through/ Drive in
More like the Selective racking system, this type allows you to drive the forklift straight into the bay or the lane of stacks. Drive in racking is a one-way arrangement while the drive-through system will have access points at either end. Both the systems allow significant storage density and are commonly employed where a lot of same products are stored.
Narrow aisle pallet racking
This is an ideal option when you have limited floor space. However, you will need specialised forklift truck that uses a guide rail and that could cost you an extra bit of money. However, when properly installed, the system affords great flexibility in positioning the shelves. You can also expect significant space savings through this system apart from very convenient access to the pallets.
Another versatile system which can consider adjustable installations as well as fixed installations in both small and large warehouses. The upright supports for the system are housed at the back of the facility and can provide a major storage area without any obstruction. This is ideal when you have to store lengthy materials such as metals. You will find this system in use in many steel tube warehouses or timber stores. This type of racking can take on heavy loads, and the unobstructed storage makes it easy for forklift trucks to access the material. The system can also be gainfully employed in situations where handpicking is feasible.
Wide aisle racking
This is an excellent system that facilitates storing small as well as large load and provides high adaptability and accessibility for hand picking as well as forklift trucks. An added advantage of the system is that a standard forklift truck can be conveniently used with the system. However, you will have to take into consideration the safe height of your fork truck to design the top shelves. This system can be installed at a comparatively low cost though you may have to compromise on storage density.
Finding the right vendors
Having understood different types of pallet racking available in the market, the next task before you is, finding reliable vendors in your neighbourhood. This should be relatively straightforward with the help of the internet. In most major towns and cities across Australia, you will find several reputed vendors. Since you cannot apparently deal with all of them, you need to pick two or three providers and negotiate with them based on your conviction of their reliability and the testimonials they have on the website. One way, you can make the selection process simple and efficient is by visiting some of the installations from the vendor. By looking at actual installations even with different dimensions, you can enhance your knowledge of the entire system which will drive your final decision. Most vendors will also be happy to assist you in this direction since it is a matter of pride for them to show off what they have already done.