types of pallet racking

In the rapid world of warehousing and logistics, efficient warehouse storage is crucial for smooth product flow. Warehouse efficiency is key for smooth logistics and product flow. Pallet racking systems, essential for modern warehousing, aren’t shelves; they unlock storage space and simplify inventory control. Choosing the right racking system is like setting the groundwork for your warehouse. To make an informed decision, it’s crucial to delve into the pros and cons of each available option.

This article is your complete guide to six common pallet racking systems. We’ll look at their pros and cons to help you choose the best one for your business. Let’s explore these systems and make an informed choice together.


1. Selective Pallet Racking


selective pallet racking

(Source: AR Racking)


Selective Pallet Racking is a versatile and used pallet storage solution in warehousing and distribution centers. This system is designed to balance accessibility and storage capacity, making it an excellent choice for businesses with diverse storage needs. 


Pros of Selective Pallet Racking

  • Versatility: One of the standout advantages of Selective Pallet Racking is its adaptability. It’s well-suited to various industries, from retail to manufacturing to logistics. Regardless of your product type, size, or weight, this system can accommodate your storage requirements.
  • Accessibility: Selective Pallet Racking is renowned for its ease of access. Each pallet stored is accessible, particularly beneficial for businesses dealing with fast-moving inventory. This accessibility ensures that products can be picked, packed, and dispatched, leading to efficient order fulfillment.
  • Efficient Space Utilization: This system maximizes vertical space using the least floor space. By allowing pallets to be stacked high, it ensures that your facility’s cubic storage capacity is optimized. This can be especially helpful in warehouses where land or floor space is premium.
  • Inventory Management: Selective Pallet Rack is well-suited for businesses with diverse SKUs and inventory management needs. Each pallet can hold a different product, making it easy to organize and locate specific items when needed.
  • Cost-Effective for Selective Storage: If your inventory consists of various products with varying storage requirements, Selective Pallet Racking allows you to divide selective storage areas. This means you can reserve the high-accessibility slots for fast-moving items and use the upper shelves for slower-moving stock, resulting in cost savings and increased operational efficiency.


Cons of Selective Pallet Racking

  • Limited Storage Capacity: While Selective Pallet Racking is versatile, it may not be the best choice for businesses with a high volume of the same product. If you stock a single SKU in bulk, other systems, like Drive-in or Push-Back Racking, may offer higher storage density for that specific SKU.
  • Cost: Compared to other pallet racking systems, Selective Pallet Racking can be more expensive due to its design. The individual pallet rack beams and uprights required for each pallet position can add cost, especially considering a large storage space. Yet, this cost is often justified by the increased accessibility and versatility the system provides.


2. Double Deep Pallet Racking


double deep pallet racking

(Source: AR Racking)


When you want to enhance your warehouse’s storage, consider Double Deep Pallet Racking. This system offers unique advantages for efficient inventory management.


Pros of Double Deep Pallet Racking


  • Increased Storage Density: Double Deep Pallet Racking stands out for its remarkable ability to offer greater storage density. By allowing pallets to be stored back-to-back within the rack, it maximizes the use of your vertical space. This means you can store more products in the same footprint, making it an excellent choice for businesses with limited warehouse space.
  • Efficient Use of Space: Double Deep Racking optimizes your storage space while still ensuring accessibility to two pallets at once. This efficiency not only reduces the need for more aisles but also streamlines the picking process. It’s an ideal solution for businesses with many identical or sized products.
  • Cost-Effective: With its ability to store more products in a smaller area, Double Deep Pallet Racking can reduce your warehousing costs. You’ll need less square footage for storage, saving on rent or construction expenses. Additionally, this system is more cost-effective than automated storage solutions.
  • Flexibility: Double Deep Racking is built for a specific purpose, but you can customize it to match your needs. You can pair it with different forklifts, even ones with extended reach or telescopic forks, so it suits your inventory perfectly.


Cons of Double Deep Pallet Racking

  • Reduced Accessibility: While this system optimizes storage density, it does come at a trade-off. Retrieving rear pallets can be more time-consuming, as it requires accessing the front pallet first. This limitation may not suit businesses needing rapid access to various products.
  • Specialized Equipment: To fully enjoy Double Deep Pallet Racking, you may need specialized forklifts and equipment that can reach and handle the rear pallets effectively. This could entail extra costs, both equipment acquisition and operator training.


3. Drive-in or Drive-thru Pallet Racking


drive in or drive thru pallet racking

(Source: AR Racking)


Drive-in and Drive-thru Pallet Racking systems are smart solutions. They boost storage space by cutting down on aisles. They work best for businesses handling lots of the same product or using Last-In, First-Out (LIFO) inventory methods.


Pros of Drive-in or Drive-thru Pallet Racking

  • High Storage Density: The hallmark feature of this system is its ability to provide a high storage density. By eliminating the need for many aisles, it allows you to stack pallets deep and high. This results in an efficient use of space, making it ideal for businesses with limited warehouse space.
  • Optimal for LIFO Inventory: Drive-in racking is ideal for businesses using a Last-In, First-Out (LIFO) inventory system. It loads products from the rear and retrieves them from the front, ensuring the newest items get picked first. This is perfect for short-shelf-life items.
  • Cost-Efficiency: Drive-in racking’s efficient storage reduces square footage, saving money on construction and operations. It’s a big win for businesses seeking cost-effective storage solutions.


Cons of Drive-in or Drive-thru Pallet Racking

  • Limited Accessibility: Drive-in racking offers exceptional storage capacity but sacrifices accessibility. Retrieving pallets from deeper within the system takes longer because the forklift must enter the rack structure. This makes it less ideal for businesses that need quick and frequent access to various SKUs.
  • Potential for Damage: The risk of product damage increases because of tight stacking and narrow aisles, especially if forklift operators lack exceptional skills. Close quarters can lead to accidental collisions, causing product damage and higher maintenance costs.
  • Specific Inventory Requirements: This system is best suited for businesses with a high volume of the same product.If your inventory changes often, Drive-in or Drive-thru Pallet Racking may not be the best option. It can be time-consuming and might not provide the storage space you need when reconfiguring it for different products.


4. Pallet Flow Racking


pallet flow racking

(Source: AR Racking)


Pallet Flow Racking, or gravity flow racking, is a dynamic storage system for businesses that want efficient inventory management, following the First-In, First-Out (FIFO) method. It works best for industries with perishable items like food, pharmaceuticals, and automotive parts.


Pros of Pallet Flow Racking

  • FIFO Inventory Management: Pallet Flow Racking rotates products in the order they arrive. This is crucial for industries with perishable goods or strict expiry dates because it reduces the chance of products spoiling or becoming obsolete.
  • High Storage Density: Pallet Flow Racking maximizes the use of vertical space within your warehouse. By allowing for many levels of pallets, it increases storage capacity. This is particularly helpful for businesses dealing with large volumes of goods.
  • Enhanced Stock Visibility: This system’s dynamic nature improves inventory visibility. You can check stock levels, making restocking efficient and reducing the risk of running out of stock.
  • Reduced Labor Intensity: Pallet Flow Racking minimizes the need for forklift operators to travel long distances within the warehouse. This results in reduced labour costs and increased productivity.
  • Improved Space Utilization: This system eliminates the need for many aisles, making it a space-efficient choice. By maximizing your storage space, you can reduce the footprint of your warehouse.


Cons of Pallet Flow Racking

  • Complex Design: Implementing Pallet Flow Racking can be more intricate and costly than conventional static systems. The system requires precise engineering and installation to ensure smooth flow and safe operation.
  • Limited Versatility: Pallet Flow Racking best suits businesses with high-volume, consistent products. It may not be the ideal choice for those with a wide variety of SKUs or shaped items.
  • Maintenance Requirements: Regular maintenance is essential to ensure the smooth flow of pallets. Any obstructions or damage to the rollers or tracks can disrupt the system’s functionality and increase maintenance costs.
  • Initial Investment: The upfront investment for Pallet Flow Rack can be higher than some other racking systems. It’s crucial to weigh this cost against the long-term benefits it provides.


5. Push-Back Pallet Racking


pallet flow racking

(Source: AR Racking)


Push-back pallet racking is a popular choice for businesses seeking a balance between storage capacity and accessibility. It’s a dynamic system that allows you to store many pallets of the same SKU in a deep, vertical lane. 


Pros of Push-Back Pallet Racking

  • High Storage Density: Push-back racking excels in space use. By storing pallets in a “last in, first out” (LIFO) order, you can achieve remarkable storage density. This is particularly helpful for businesses dealing with large volumes of the same product.
  • Selective Retrieval: Despite high storage density, push-back racking provides selective access to many SKUs. This means that you can store a variety of products while still maintaining a high-density storage solution. It’s a great compromise between accessibility and space efficiency.
  • Reduced Aisle Requirements: Unlike selective pallet racks, push-back racking doesn’t need many aisles for forklift access. This results in significant space savings, allowing you to store more in less floor space. It’s particularly beneficial for businesses looking to make the most of their existing warehouse space.
  • Efficient Inventory Rotation: The LIFO system promotes efficient inventory rotation. Newer stock is loaded onto the rack behind the older stock. When it’s time to retrieve items, you can access the last-loaded pallet first, minimizing the risk of product obsolescence.


Cons of Push-Back Pallet Racking

  • Less Accessible: While push-back racking provides selective access, retrieving rear pallets can be slower and more labor-intensive than selective racking systems. If your operation requires frequent access to a wide range of products, you may experience slower picking times.
  • Cost and Maintenance: The initial investment in push-back pallet racking can be higher than some other systems due to its specialized design. Additionally, it may need more maintenance, such as ensuring that the push-back carts and rails are in good working order. However, these costs are often outweighed by the increased storage capacity and efficiency.


6. Cantilever Pallet Racking


cantilever pallet racking

(Source: AR Racking)


Cantilever pallet racking is a special solution for businesses that handle long, heavy, or shaped items that don’t fit in regular pallet flow racks. Its unique design makes it easy to store things like lumber, pipes, furniture, or carpet rolls, ensuring easy access and organization where other systems struggle. 


Pros of Cantilever Pallet Racking

  • Ideal for Long Items: If your business handles materials of large length or odd dimensions, cantilever racking is the answer. It accommodates products that wouldn’t fit into standard pallets or shelving units, allowing you to maximize your space.
  • Easy Accessibility: One of the standout features of cantilever racking is the ease of access it offers. Its open design allows for quick loading and unloading of items with forklifts or other handling equipment. This accessibility streamlines your operations and minimizes the time spent retrieving items, improving productivity.
  • Customizable Configurations: Cantilever racking systems are customizable to meet your specific storage needs. You can adjust the height, length, and number of arms or levels to suit your inventory. This adaptability ensures that you’re making the most of your available space.
  • Versatile Usage: While ideal for storing construction materials and long goods, cantilever racking is also suitable for smaller items, making it a versatile solution for businesses with varying storage requirements.


Cons of Cantilever Pallet Racking

  • Space Intensive: One drawback of cantilever racking is that it requires more horizontal space than other pallet rack systems. This system stores long items, which isn’t space-efficient if your warehouse is small.
  • Complex Design and Installation: Installing cantilever racking can be more complex than standard warehouse racking systems. It may involve more time and cost for setup, which is essential to ensure the system’s stability and safety.



Choosing the perfect warehouse pallet racking system is crucial for warehouse and storage businesses. The six types we talk about here each have their own pros and cons. You should pick the one that matches your storage needs, inventory, and budget. 

As you weigh the pros and cons of each system, remember that there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Your decision should be based on inventory size, product turnover, and available space.

For expert guidance and help in implementing the most suitable pallet racking system for your business, consider reaching out to EMTS Group. 

As a leading provider of pallet racking solutions, EMTS Group offers a wide range of options like boltless racks and some racking for warehouses to cater to various industries and needs. Their experienced team can help you optimize your storage space and enhance your warehouse’s efficiency, contributing to your business’s success.

So, take the next step in improving your storage solutions and contact EMTS Group today. Your choice of the right pallet racking system can make a significant difference in streamlining your operations and maximizing your warehouse’s potential.

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