Choosing the Best Pallet Rack Shelving System

Pallet Rack Shelving is the best solution for large warehouses to store their inventory because it allows for simple, accessible storage. All items stored on pallet rack shelving systemscan be easily inventoried and catalogued. All items are easily accessible, and can be stored on both skids and pallets.
Pallet Rack design and purchasing can be a complicated process. See below for instructions on the best way to pick and choose the best shelving for any business.


English: Push back pallet storage system desig...
English: Push back pallet storage system designed to store pallets of motorcycles. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


A. Determining Size:

1. First determine what size pallet rack beam you will need. The beam is the support that goes between posts that will support the weight of your stored items. The type of lift truck you use will dictate the correct length of the pallet rack beam. If you’re using a counter balanced pallet truck, you will need to calculate the maximum width per load or pallet (whichever is larger) and the number of loads across. You must allow at least three inches between upright frames and loads, and at least four inches between loads. If you’re using a straddle pallet or outrigger truck, you will need to measure the maximum width of the outriggers or load (whichever is larger) and the number of loads across. Again, you must allow three inches between upright frames and loads, and at least four inches between loads.

2. The next step is to determine the weight capacity of the pallet beam. The manufacturer will need to know what weight the beam will support so that they can provide you with the correct beam. To calculate the total weight, multiply the number of pallets by the MAXIMUM weight that will be on each pallet. This is a crucial step because you must ensure that you account for the most heavy of items that will be stored on the rack. If the weight of your inventory exceeds the maximumm weight allowance for your pallet rack system, the system could fail causing damage to your inventory and possibly injuring your employees.

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3. Next, you will need the frame height and the frame weight capacity. First, take measurements to determine the frame upright height. You will need to add the height of the pallet, the height of the load, the clearance between the load and the beam above it (this should be at least 3 inches), and the height of the of the beam (use 9″ if you don’t know the beam height). Multiply this total by the number of shelves to get the frame height. To calculate the frame capacity, multiply the maximum weight per load, the total number of loads per row, and the total number of rows. Again, ensure that this weight is for the MAXIMUM weight that could be on this frame. Overloading a frame could cause the system to fail, which could result in inventory damage and personal injury.


English: modern warehouse with pallet rack sto...
English: modern warehouse with pallet rack storage system (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

B. Determining Materials and Add-ons:


1. Now that you have the sizes and capacities that you need, you will need to decide the rack material. For most applications, heavy, 14 gauge steel is the best. There are racks available made from fiberglass or aluminum, but those are not as strong and will not last as long. Avoid the snap together racks and use those that bolt together, as those will be more durable.

2. If there is any possibility that you will need additional space, purchase racks that have optional add on units. This will save you money in the long run. In addition to add on units, you will need to order mesh decking, row spacers, and safety supports. To further protect the safety of your employees, it is also recommended that you purchase pallet rack safety netting. This netting will ensure that all inventory is safely secure, and will not fall from the rack. All pallet rack accessories will vary by manufacturer, so inquire about accessories when you are ordering your new racks.

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Specialty Racks:

For those with more specialized needs, there are a variety of specialized storage options to consider. If in addition to pallets, you have an inventory of smaller items (such as boxes), you can purchase flow racks. Flow racks are designed to have multiple items in a line, from front of the rack to the back. This allows you to load newer inventory behind existing inventory, and will it ensure that the older inventory is removed first. There are also racks available that are specifically designed for drums, and others designed for tires. There are other specialty racks available, so if you have inventory that is not mentioned here, contact your manufacturer, and they can guide you to the best product to suit your needs.