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Types of Pallet Rack Systems

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Pallet racking is the art and science of storing inventory for a business in horizontal rows in one or more configurations. A forklift is almost always an integral part of any pallet racking system.

These types of systems came into common use heavily right after the Second World War, and have become steadily more and more important ever since. If you are looking for a new pallet racking system, there are several things to consider, including the building type, size, and kind of structure (whether existing or still in blueprint form), and then the type of inventory you will be storing. The main factors can include the size, weight, shape, fragility and perishability of the units of inventory. Of course, the total cost of building and maintaining the system can never not be main factors as well.

Here are some of the main types of pallet racking. It should be noted that within these types there are usually two variations, FIFO (first in first out) and LIFO (last in first out). FIFO is a clear necessity when you are dealing with potentially perishable types of inventory, for example.

1) Drive-in

These were the first types of pallet rack systems. They are configured so that a forklift can drive directly in and load and unload inventory. Drive-in systems are necessarily LIFO.

2) Drive-through

The only real difference between this type and the drive-in type is that in the case of drive-through you have two entry points for each stack. This allows the system to be configured as FIFO.

3) Push-back

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Push-back systems are set up so that each pallet is on wheels and rests on rails. These rails usually slope backwards to take advantage of gravity. They can go up to six pallets deep, and have a system for pushing pallets back as you unload them. These are also LIFO by nature.

4) Pallet Flow

Pallet flow systems are similar to Push-back systems but are more complicated and expensive, relying usually on a system of motors and brakes to move pallets around. Because of this, however, they can also be configured as FIFO.

5) Mobilized

This is easily the most expensive option, but offers several big advantages. These systems not only can be configured as LIFO or FIFO as you wish, they also can reduce storage space requirements by about half in most circumstances. They have motor systems allowing the moving of whole racks of pallets, allowing the access area to be much smaller. These make more sense the more limited space is.

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