Push Back Rack

Push back racking helps you make the best use of your warehouse without having to slow product rotation or increase handling time. With a push back pallet racking system in place, warehouses can store more pallets while maintaining better selectivity (access to SKUs) than other high-density systems like drive-in racking. Push back racking offers a best of both worlds storage solution.

A push back storage rack system can offer up to 90% more storage space than traditional selective pallet racking. That’s one reason why this dynamic pallet storage system is surging in popularity, quickly becoming the preferred method of storage in many sectors.

Looking for budgetary numbers or more information? Call one of our Systems Design Specialists or send us a quote request, and we’ll work with you to provide layouts and budgets for your warehouse.

push back pallet rack quote

How Push Back Racking Works

Pushback pallet rack systems store pallets on wheeled carts that rest on rails and operate using the force of gravity. The rails are slightly tilted towards the pallet pick face, where pallets are loaded and unloaded. This enables forklift operators to load pallets onto the carts and push them back as the next pallet is loaded.

During unloading, the pallet being unloaded acts as a brake for the pallets behind it. Once the pallet is fully removed, the pallet behind is positioned at the pick face for unloading next. If you’re interested in seeing a live demonstration, stop by our Minnesota location and see our fully operating system. If you’re located outside the state of Minnesota, please call us at 800-722-5908 or send in a quick form and we’ll show you a rack system near you.


pushback pallet racking carts

Nested push back pallet rack carts


Push back racking systems are perfect for storing multiple pallets of the same SKU, with each lane holding anywhere from two to five pallets. Push back systems work with all types of forklifts, including counterbalance, narrow-aisle, and swing reach. Because each pallet lane operates independently, push back pallet storage offers a more flexible pallet storage option than drive in racking, which is best for storing many pallets of only a few SKUs.

In a push back pallet rack system, lift trucks never actually enter the rack system, limiting the opportunity to cause damage to the racking. Because of this, many consider push back racking to be safer and easier to use than drive in rack systems.

Push Back Pallet Rack Safety

    • Safe Loading 

The first pallet being loaded into a lane always goes on the highest available rack cart. The pallet should be lifted at least an inch above the footplate, and it’s important to keep the pallet level when loading and unloading. When the pallet is set, it should be centered on the cart — make sure it’s not resting on the push plate. When the push plate’s no longer visible, it means the storage lane is full.

    • Safe Unloading 

The most important rule to keep in mind when using a push back system is that the forklift is the only brake. As the forklift operator removes the front pallet, each consecutive pallet on the rack slides forward. Therefore, the forklift acts as a brake for the remaining pallets. If the forklift pulls away too quickly, the remaining pallets could slide forward with too much momentum and tip or fall. The end result could span from damaged freight to injured personnel.

    • Maintenance 

Push back rack systems require little to no maintenance, although we always recommend monthly pallet rack safety checks. When performing the check, you should focus on finding damaged frames, loose anchors, damaged carts and anything else that appears to be out of place.


Advantages of Push Back Racking Systems:

  • Offers better use of available storage space than most systems
  • Minimizes honeycombing effect
  • Allows storage of more SKU’s
  • Saves on labor – forklift drivers don’t have to remove obstructive pallets
  • Provides more storage rack area with a single-aisle design
  • Allows for quick and easy loading/unloading of pallets
  • Each lane is LIFO, but FIFO can easily be configured with proper design
  • Large, coated wheels let pallet carts roll smoothly
  • Very low-maintenance, sealed bearings
  • Customizable pallet carts, usually color-coded for safety and ease of use
  • Low-profile cart stack maximizes available storage height
  • Forklifts never have to enter the rack, promoting safety and saving time


10 Things to Know about Push Back Racking Systems:

  1. Compared to standard racking, most forklift operators believe push back racking is an easier system to operate. It typically takes only a few hours to become fully acquainted with the rack system
  2. Because forklifts never enter the system, damage to uprights is minimized
  3. Aisles typically only need to be 6″ wider than the manufacturer’s minimum aisle requirement
  4. Requires little to no maintenance besides standard pallet rack safety checks
  5. Push back is compatible with counterbalance, reach, deep reach, swing reach, and even clamp forklift trucks
  6. A 3,000 pound-per-pallet position capacity is standard, but push back rack can be designed with an even higher capacity
  7. The most common pallet style in a pushback system is the standard GMA, but push back can be manufactured for multiple styles of pallets
  8. Typically requires an additional 6”-8”’s of height compared to standard selective
  9. Push back rack is often times used in combination with drive in rack to maximize space
  10. Unless noted, most push back rack systems in the US are made using structural rack


Frequently Asked Push Back Pallet Rack Questions:

    • How does push back racking work?

Push-back rack systems utilize a system of nested carts that allows up to 5 pallets to be stored per pallet position. Pallets sit atop these carts and when a pallet is loaded, the pallet positioned at the pick face is pushed backward, along with any pallets that are behind it.  The new pallet is then set on the cart that was nested below.  Likewise, when a pallet is pulled from the pick face, the pallet(s) behind it move forward one position. If you are interested in watching a live demo stop by our Maple Grove, MN warehouse or reach out to our Design Group and we’ll find one of our systems in a warehouse near you.

    • What are the advantages and disadvantages of push back pallet rack?

The biggest advantage of push back pallet rack is its ability to offer both selectivity (access to different pallets/SKU’s) and storage density by storing multiple pallets per position. Offering selectivity without compromising density has helped push back rack grow in popularity in recent years.

    • How do I know if push back racking is right for my warehouse?

Push back pallet rack systems are ideal for warehouses that store a high volume of product, have a limited number of pallets per SKU, and have a high volume of turnover.  However, they’re not right for every warehouse. We always recommend consulting a pallet rack professional to help figure out which system will work best for your application!

    • Is push-back racking customizable?

Customized push back pallet rack systems are available, making an already custom-engineered system even more tailored. Push back systems can be engineered to accommodate special pallets, such as extra-long and extra-wide pallets. Special carts can also be made to support pallets that are not strong enough to support themselves.  In this situation, carts are outfitted with cross supports or full mesh supports to create more surface area.

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Push Back Pallet Rack

Related Pages: Push Back Pallet Rack InstallationPush Back Pallet Rack Design