Welcome to our Pallet Rack Guide. Here you can find everything you need to know about pallet rack and pallet rack products. We’re continually adding and updating this information to make it as accurate and helpful as possible. We hope it will help you learn more about your current or future pallet rack system.
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Definition: Pallet Rack is a material handling storage system engineered to store materials and products that are often palletized or bundled. There are many different styles and manufacturers of pallet racking, but all of these share the same goal of increasing storage density by storing pallets off the ground, utilizing vertical space. Pallets or other materials are loaded onto pallet racks with fork trucks chosen specifically for that application. Dating back to the early patents of “pallet rack US 2577276” circa 1948, pallet racking has been among the most widely used material storage systems in large warehouses, distribution centers, manufacturing plants and other storage facilities.
Standard Selective Pallet Rack – this is the most common style of pallet rack found in warehouses today. The name “selective” defines this system well because you can unload any pallet from the system without having to move another pallet to get to it. In this aspect, selective pallet rack offers operators the most flexible storage option. Almost all pallet rack manufacturers offer a standard selective rack design for their customers, although not all are engineered and manufactured the same. The easiest way for manufacturers to identify themselves amongst the other brands is by the beam-to-frame connectors. Each manufacturer has a slightly different beam-to-frame connector that differentiates them from the rest. Among these, the “teardrop” selective design has become the favorite and most common design found in warehouses.
Teardrop racking gets its name from the punch hole design on the upright frame, which resembles an upside down teardrop. These punch holes provide the space in which the crossbeam’s connectors engage. Most teardrop pallet rack brands can fit uniformly with one another, although it’s generally not recommended by the manufacturers because it voids warranties. Selective racking comes in both roll formed and structural styles to meet the demands of specific applications. The structural design is commonly found in heavy-duty, rugged applications. View our Pallet Rack Identifier at the bottom of the page to see which style or manufacturer your pallet rack is.
Pallet Rack Components
Upright Frames – also referred to as “upright columns” because they’re stood up and used as a column to which the beams can connect. Uprights have holes (often teardrop-shaped)on the front face of the columns into which the pins of the beam connectors engage.
Cross Beam – connects into the upright frame on both ends to create a shelf for the pallets to rest upon. Two beams make up one shelf level. Cross beams are available in numerous lengths and capacities.
Wire Decking – is often used as a safety measure for the pallets being stored in the pallet rack system. Decking not only creates a safety measure for the rack system by expanding surface area, but also allows for better air circulation and water flow from sprinkler systems.
Pallet Rack Specifications:
Upright Frame – Frame height= (height of pallet + height of beam+ 4” vertical clearance) x number of levels
Cross Beam – Correct beam length for your application is calculated by adding the widths of the pallet loads plus a 5″ side clearance between upright and pallet, and 6″ between pallet loads.
Wire Mesh Decking – Wire decking provides added safety to your rack system. Our wire decking manufacturers are separate from our pallet rack manufacturers, and the size of your decking will depend on the size of the pallet rack system.
Styles of Wire Decking
Flanged/Universal – Used on pallet rack box beams (beams with no inside step), structural rack and selective systems. As its name suggests, universal/flare channel decks can be used on almost any type of pallet rack cross beam.
U Channel Standard – U Channel Standard decks are used on standard pallet rack beams that have a traditional step measuring 1 5/8” U Channel decks are stronger than flare channel decks, but cannot be used on beams that don’t have an inside step for the support channel.
Pallet Rack Accessories
Hanging Shelf Dividers – These are used on pallet rack shelves to separate the contents of a beam level. These dividers work by hanging from the above decking and connecting to the deck at the bottom on the beam level.
Flue Spacers – Used on wire decking to create a flue space. Flue spaces are often needed to meet local fire and safety codes, as they allow fires to vent vertically and the water from sprinkler systems to reach the fire’s source.
Engineered Pallet Rack Systems
Drive In – Drive-in racking boasts the greatest storage density of any of our engineered pallet rack systems. By eliminating aisles in a rack system, the drive-in design is able to maximize vertical and horizontal space. In fact, drive-in pallet storage systems can increase storage by as much as 60%. Drive-In racking is also known as “Drive-Through” racking, the only difference being that drive-through rack systems are designed to have lifts drive all the way through the storage system. This contrasts to drive-in systems, in which lifts must back out in the same direction from which they entered.
Push Back – Pushback allows you to maximize space without sacrificing smooth and consistent product rotation. Push back pallet rack increases pallet count while simultaneously offering more pick faces than the traditional drive-in pallet rack system. These systems are also highly effective for storing SKUs with multiple pallets and can store up to pallets 6 deep per lane. Using carts to control the flow of each pallet, pushback maintains a LIFO (last in first out) product flow by placing pallets in front of the most recently loaded cart.
Pallet/Gravity Flow – Pallet flow rack uses metal rollers and the force of gravity to feed pallets into the rack’s pick position and is used for its ability to get warehouses flowing. Like drive-in racking and other engineered systems, pallet flow works by eliminating aisles in order to maximize the available space. Gravity flow rack systems are engineered based on individual needs, making each pallet flow rack system custom fitted to its application.
Carton Flow – Also known as span track, carton flow racking works in tandem with pallet rack systems to offer a pick solutions for high volume order picking operations. Adding the benefit of reduced operator activity, carton flow systems use gravity and rollers to flow product forward to the pick position of the rack system, much like a lighter duty version of pallet flow rack. These rack systems are typically found in “flowing” warehouses with a large number of products being picked daily.
Pallet Rack Terminology
(Also see our pallet rack dictionary)
Angle Deflector (Bolt-On or Welded) – Angle Deflectors are designed to deflect impacts and are placed on upright frames in areas susceptible to damage. Angle deflectors can be welded on during manufacturing or bolted on after manufacturing.
Cement Frame Anchor – Anchors connect the pallet rack uprights to the cement floor and are recommended on nearly ALL rack systems.
Corrugated Decking – Corrugated decks are used on pallet rack to create a shelf level that is flush with the beam for smooth product loading and unloading.
Cross Beam – Our pallet rack cross beams consist of beam tubes that are cut to a specific size and have welded connector ears on each end. Two cross beams create one beam level in a rack system.
Drum Coil Bed – Drum Coil Beds are designed to fit on pallet rack systems and store drums safely and efficiently.
Frame Column Guard – Column guards are either anchored to the floor or bolted to the front of the pallet rack upright frame itself, protecting it from costly forklift damage.
Frame Floor Guard – Floor Guards are used in rack systems primarily to protect the outside end-of-aisle frames on a rack system. Floor guards run along the outside of the upright and wrap around the front, maximizing protection in high traffic areas.
Frame Upright – Our pallet rack uprights consist of two frame columns connected together by steel channels that are welded into place. The steel channels are cut at different sizes, which are determined by the depth of the frame. A starter bay of pallet racking consists of two upright frames that are connected by a minimum of two shared crossbeam levels.
Fork Entry Bar – Fork Entry Bars are designed to fit on pallet rack systems, allowing forklifts to enter under the products being stored on top of the fork entry bar.
M Divider – M Dividers are commonly used in racks storing wood, rugs and other vertically-oriented products. M dividers separate product that is being stored upright in a rack system, and get their name from the shape the divider makes when laid on its side.
Row End Protectors – Row end protectors are used on rack systems with high-traffic aisles. The row end protectors are placed on the end-of-aisle frames at specific heights, offering added protection from pallet and forklift damage.
Row Spacer – Row spacers are used in flue spaces between uprights to stabilize the rack system or provide clearance for building columns and other obstacles. Row spacers bolt onto each upright and join the uprights together.
Pallet Support Bar – Pallet support bars are used in pallet rack for added pallet fall protection. Pallet supports connect from the front to the back of the cross beams.
Safety Beam Clip – Safety beam clips are found on pallet rack cross beams. These clips create a safety connection between the upright frame and the cross beam so that beams cannot accidentally become disengaged. The most common style of a pallet rack clip is the universal safety drop pin. BUY PALLET RACK AND SHELVING CLIPS ONLINE
Safety Netting – Pallet rack safety netting is made of a nylon or plastic mesh which is placed on the back of rack systems for increased safety and fall protection.
Shim – When installing a pallet rack system on an uneven floor, shims are used under the uprights to ensure the pallet rack footplate is as close to plumb with the floor as possible.
Splice Channel – Frame splice channels are used in upright frames to add height on to an existing upright frame when additional levels need to be added. Engineering approval may be required to confirm the base frame capacity is not exceeded.
Solid Decking – Solid Decks are placed on the rack system cross beams to create a solid, even shelf surface on the beam level.
Wall Tie – A wall tie is used on the pallet rack to connect the rack system to the wall adjacent to the racking. The wall ties connect to the upright frame with nuts and bolts.
Wire Mesh Deck – Wire mesh decks are made of welded wire that rests on the beams of the racking system, creating a shelf level for added protection from falling pallets or products. Most wire decks have support channels welded on the bottom of the wire for increased load support capacity.