Weighing Up Density And Selectivity In Pallet Racking

  April 22, 2024      Warehousing

When it comes to pallet racking, there’s a lot of variety and different designs. These different types of pallet racking are designed to be used in different ways. Some aspects of the design differences are just for how pallets will be handled, but many of the design differences balance out selectivity and storage density.

Ultimately, different types of pallet racking balance selectivity with storage density. Generally speaking, pallet racking with a higher storage density is going to be less selective, and vice versa. If you think of pallet racking as a tool, it’s easy to see that, like many tools, different types of tools have pros and cons, and this the case in balancing the selectivity and the storage density of a particular type of pallet racking.

What Is Selectivity In Pallet Racking?

Selectivity refers to having easy and direct access to different pallets. The simplest form of pallet racking, selective pallet racking, gets its name from the fact that there’s direct access to every pallet being stored on it. However, selective pallet racking isn’t very dense. In order to have access to every pallet position, there needs to be aisles for every pallet position that are accessible via forklift.

Double deep pallet racking increases density, but half the pallet positions are inaccessible because they’re blocked by the pallet in front. Double deep pallet racking is still considered highly selective, but not quite as much as selective pallet racking. In double deep pallet racking, however, pallets of the same SKU are stored in front of each other, so while selectivity is diminished, it’s still possible to get access to every type of product in the warehouse.

From this is can be seen that high selectivity pallet racking is good for warehouse storage situations where there is a large variety of SKUs compared to how many pallets there are of each SKU. This ensures that there’s access to every SKU, but, of course, the amount of pallet positions that can be fit into a given warehouse is reduced.

Beyond selective pallet racking and double deep pallet racking, narrow aisle pallet racking is also highly selective while also increasing storage density. As the name would suggest, narrow aisle pallet racking reduces the width of aisles between selective pallet racking, thereby increasing the storage density. The disadvantage to narrow aisle pallet racking is that specialised materials handling equipment is needed to retrieve pallets, but this could be a good trade off in situations where the density is needed as well as the selectivity.

What Is Storage Density In Pallet Racking?

We’ve already touched on it, but pallet racking with a higher storage density maximises the amount of storage space of the pallet racking and therefore the warehouse. To achieve a higher storage density, higher density pallet racking typically stores pallets multi-deep. High density pallet racking may store pallets 4-6 pallets deep, but there’s also really no limit on how deep the storage system can go.

When storing things multiple pallets deep, all the pallets are the same SKU. So, like with double deep pallet racking, there is still access to each SKU, but some pallets of a particular SKU are blocked in. With a lot of higher density pallet racking solutions a first in, last out system is in place because the pallets at the back of a multi-deep storage system can’t come out until the others in front of it are moved. However, there are solutions, like pallet live storage that allow for high density storage while still being first in, first out. Again though, even when trying to achieve very high storage density, it’s a trade off between the highest possible storage density and being able to get to specific pallets when needed.

Because of all of this, higher density, multi-deep pallet storage solutions are generally best suited to situations where there are many pallets of the same SKU compared to the total amount of SKUs being stored. This way all the pallets of the same SKU can be stored in the same row.

Apart from pallet live storage, high density pallet racking also includes types like drive-in pallet racking, which allows forklifts to drive all the way into the pallet racking to store pallets multi-deep. Push back pallet racking is another higher density storage solution that stores pallets on an inclined plane so that they can be pushed back and then slide forward when the pallet in front is removed.

The Best Option Will Depend On Your Business Needs

There’s no one size fits all solution for pallet storage. The exact solution will depend on what a particular business is storing, how much storage they have, the amount of SKUs they have, how much stock rotation is needed, and more.

While it’s likely a good to have an idea of what’s needed in terms of storage, ultimately businesses should speak to an expert about their pallet storage needs, and we’re happy to help.