Why You Should Consult a Specialist Before Installing Drive-In Pallet Rack

In recent decades, drive-in pallet rack has seen somewhat of a decrease in popularity. As technology and methods improve, more advanced systems have begun to dominate the market. Businesses want to store as much product in as little space as possible, but without sacrificing product flow and accessibility. Despite this decline in popularity, drive-in racking can still serve a useful purpose in a number of different applications, and is still widely used, particularly in applications with a large volumes of the same SKU’s. Drive-in rack has the potential to offer exceptional storage density, as the rack material itself takes up very little space. As we’ll discuss in this blog post, however, it’s extremely important to talk to a warehouse consultant prior to ordering and installing drive-in pallet rack.

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Honeycombing in Drive-In Pallet Rack

One of the primary goals of a pallet rack system is to store product efficiently. Pallet rack systems are meant to be an investment that will pay dividends in the form of greater storage capacity, faster product turnover and better use of space. Honeycombing can be a roadblock to achieving these returns on investment. Honeycombing occurs in drive-in pallet rack when pallet positions allocated for specific SKU’s start to dwindle in occupancy over time as pallets of that SKU are shipped out. In a drive-in system, the pallets toward the front of the system must be moved in order to access the pallets in the back. Therefore, the entirety of a lane should be emptied before being loaded with new pallets, or the pallets toward the back of the lane will remain there indefinitely. This manifests itself as low utilization of pallet positions in drive-in rack systems. In order to prevent this, most or the entirety of a lane should be shipping out at once or within a relatively small window of time. One exception to this phenomenon is the shallow drive-in system, which requires less time and effort to access rear pallet positions.

Drive in pallet racking

Drive-In Pallet Rack Forklift Compatibility

If you’re using a pallet rack system, you’ll be using a forklift or lift truck to move the stored pallets. When it comes to drive-in pallet rack, it’s important to ensure your forklifts will be compatible with the design of the racking. Unlike other rack systems, drive-in racking requires forklift operators to actually drive in to the racking, hence its name. One of the seemingly obvious but oft overlooked implications of this is the fact that each lane must be wide enough to accommodate the width of whatever forklift(s) you plan on using. In addition, the first rail level must be high enough off the ground so as not to interfere with the forklift cage, should you have one.

Designing the Drive-In Pallet Rack to Take Abuse

All pallet rack is subject to somewhat regular abuse. The rigors of life in a warehouse mean pallet racking must be built to withstand punishment. Because of the structural nature of drive-in rack and because forklifts are driven into the system, drive-in rack must be built to withstand even more abuse than other pallet rack systems. Methods such as doubling up the structural steel in vulnerable locations or implementing a slant-leg design can greatly reduce the risk of irreparable damage.

Understanding the Pallets Themselves

Last but certainly not least, it’s imperative that you’re cognizant of the pallets you’ll be using. Most pallet rack systems have some type of structure supporting the pallets from underneath, such as cross beams or push-back carts. In drive-in rack systems, pallets sit on the edges of two horizontal rails, with only a few inches on each side of the pallet being supported. If you’re using different-sized pallets, you may find yourself in a world of trouble. Pallets must be uniform in size, and the racking lanes must be an appropriate width to support the edges.

Ask a Drive-In Pallet Rack Specialist

If you’re thinking of installing a drive-in pallet rack system, do yourself a favor and talk to a specialist first. At AK Material Handling Systems, our rack systems specialists have over 80 years of combined experience, and have the know-how to get you the information you’ll need to know before purchasing and installing drive-in pallet racking. Give us a call at 800-722-5908 or send us an email at [email protected] to talk with one of our experts.

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About AK Material Handling Systems

We deliver value to our customers by providing the absolute best combination of quality products, helpful customer service and competitive pricing. We specialize in warehouse layout & design, pallet rack systems, engineered sales, mezzaninesmodular offices and completed turn-key warehouse systems. For more information email us or call (800) 722-5908