You often ignore pallet racks and their role in logistics and distribution centers. For the longest time, these storage solutions allow retailers and manufacturers to maximize the use of space for their warehouses. It would not be an exaggeration that they play a significant role in driving the economy upwards.

Not many people know about it, but the Pallet Rack is a huge industry. For instance, according to estimates, the total revenue as of 2019 was $2.1 billion. But it is projected to hit $3 billion by 2024, on a compound annual growth rate of six percent. They are used across industries such as food and beverages, oil and gas, electronics, processing and manufacturing, healthcare, chemicals, building and construction, and logistics.

While they might look similar, not all pallet racks are the same. They have different uses, and choosing the wrong one can negatively impact your loading and unloading times.

For instance, pallet racks are differentiated by their design. You have selective, drive-in, push-back, live storage, narrow aisle, high-rise, and satellite. But how do you choose and when do you use each one?

Here is a brief overview of the reasoning behind each Pallet Rack design:

1. Selective — You choose this one when you have low-density pallets per storage-keeping unit (SKU). Also, if you want free access to any item on the pallet or if you want to unload items from the lower levels, then the selective method is right for you.

2. Drive-in — You use this one as a first-in/last-out asset management. If you have multiple items to store for your high-density storage, then you choose drive-in racks. They also require fewer aisles to enable the forklifts to pass through and pick up pallets.

3. Push-back — If you have more pallets per storage-keeping unit and still want to achieve higher density in storage, then you use the push-back method.  However, you do not use this when you need to access the pallets quickly and frequently.

4. Live Storage — This type of Pallet Rack design employs the first-in/first-out (FIFO) method of asset management. If you have a high-density pallet per SKU, but you need to maximize your space, then you choose live storage.

5. Narrow Aisle — The asset management type employs two methods of operation: Turret truck and Articulated Truck. Regardless of the process, they both share similar characteristics: they guarantee high-density pallet per SKU, as well as an excellent use of space. They also enhance the storage density and allow quick loading and unloading of pallets.

6. High-Rise — Also called automated storage system, this type of Pallet Rack is best used when you have limited space for your warehouse and a high density of items. The whole system is automatic, which also makes sure that you can access all pallets for easy selection.  The design works best if you have small staff since you can pick the item somewhere else from the distribution center.

7. Satellite Racking — You can choose satellite racking if you have a high density of products in your warehouse. But you can only access one SKU for each lane. Unlike with drive-in, you can maximize the utilization of space with this method.

Those are the most common methods of pallet rack designs. You can ask the distributor to help you come up with a decision that tailor-fits your storage requirements.

By Eddy

Eddy is the editorial columnist in Business Fundas, and oversees partner relationships. He posts articles of partners on various topics related to strategy, marketing, supply chain, technology management, social media, e-business, finance, economics and operations management. The articles posted are copyrighted under a Creative Commons unported license 4.0. To contact him, please direct your emails to [email protected].