Making the most of your space – a guide to pallet racking utilisation

Posted on October 14, 2020

Best racking for your business

Best racking for your business

The best type of racking for your business will depend on a few different criteria, so here’s a basic overview of the main ones.

Inventory turnover

Inventory turnover takes into account the frequency of your incoming and outgoing goods, the time the stock sits on your shelves and the rate and quantity at which it moves. For instance, a high-volume, high-turnover and seasonal industry such as supermarket stockrooms or fashion apparel hubs will benefit from a large capacity, easy access system such as VNA or drive in. A low-turnover, high-volume and non-seasonal industry such as car/truck parts or wholesale supplies will suit a double deep or selective pallet racking system. A high-volume, low-turnover seasonal operation will fit well with automated shuttle racking.

Stock movement information such as FIFO (first in, first out) and FILO (first in, last out) will dictate the racking type as well – non-perishable stock usually works on FILO where as stock with use-by dates or FMCGs will work on FIFO.

Volume Turnover FIFO FILO
Selective pallet racking  Medium High Y Y
Drive in racking High Low N Y
Double deep racking  Medium-High High N Y
Push back racking High Medium-High N Y
Very narrow aisle (VNA) racking  Medium-High Medium-High Y Y
Automated shuttle racking High Low Y Y

Inventory volume

The physical size and number of your stock will dictate the type of racking required as much as your physical space and budget will. This also varies based on the uniformity of size and weight of your product. Large or oddly-shaped items will fit best into selective pallet racking while standard boxed or wrapped items can be slotted into VNA or drive-in pallet racking with more ease. A business with many small items likewise will find the best utilisation in VNA or drive in while a business with fewer and larger items will be suited to double deep or selective racking.

MHE equipment

Whether you already have your equipment or you will purchase to suit, each piece of machinery will be ideal for a type of racking system. The good news is that standard forklifts and reach trucks will work with most types of racking: selective, drive in, push back, automated shuttle or double deep. Some systems may need additional forklift parts such as telescopic arms. For our more specialised systems such as VNA, you’ll need an order picker or a ‘man up picker’ which sends the operator up with the forks (hence the name).

Different racking also has different aisle space, so it’s important to make sure any racking has enough maneuverability.

  Aisle width MHE
Selective pallet racking  3 – 3.5m Forklift / reach truck
Drive in racking 3 – 4m Forklift / reach truck
Double deep racking  1.6 – 1.8m Telescopic forklift
Push back racking 3 – 3.5m Forklift / reach truck
Very narrow aisle (VNA) racking  1.6 – 1.8m Order picker
Automated shuttle racking 3 – 3.5m Forklift / reach truck

Ambient temperature

For warehouses that are temperature controlled to a level that is unsuitable for human comfort, an automated shuttle racking system is a must-have. This reduces the time that staff spend in the unsuitable temperature and will operate well within -30°C to +55°C.All other pallet racking systems will function well in both low and high temperature warehouses but may need additional coating depending on humidity and moisture levels. For any storage outside the ordinary, a specialised supplier will recommend the best system and finish for you.

Floor and pallet utilisation

Floor and pallet utilisation

Each pallet racking system will offer differing levels of floor space usage. The physical size and volume of stock will dictate the best system, but for those businesses that can use several options or who are limited by their building space, floor utilisation is a useful metric.

Likewise, the number of pallets you need to store is a principle consideration – the footprint of each system may affect the design but many systems can go as high as your space will allow such as selective, VNA, and shuttle and will offer better use of a high stud warehouse.

  Floor used for storage Pallets per 1000sqm
Selective pallet racking  40% 1000
Drive in racking 68% 2000
Double deep racking  55% 1300-1500
Push back racking 65-70% 1500-2000
Very narrow aisle (VNA) racking  45-50% 1500-1800
Automated shuttle racking 75-80% 2000

As you can see, there’s a lot more to pallet racking design than some posts and beams. Each of these factors will play a part in deciding what the best way to store your product will be. Ultimately, the best way to make sure you get the most value for money is to engage a specialist at the beginning of your planning. Even before a new build, a designer can help navigate the building codes, consents and componentry around your business requirements. Good racking is an investment in protection of your assets and should be customised to your needs every time.

If you’re after just such a designer and just such a company, we happen to be experts in storage solutions. We cover all of NZ and we’ve seen it all before so give us a call or an email and let us know your problem – we guarantee to make the most of your storage space.