In the world of warehouses, storage is key. You can’t simply stack pallet upon pallet from floor to ceiling. Not only would that provide terrible access, but those stacks just wouldn’t be very stable.
This is why warehouse shelving was invented. To get things off the floor. To maximize space. To make objects easier to store, see, locate, and ultimately, remove. Of course, not everyone’s needs are the same, and so, we are left with many different kinds of shelving to fit many different situations.
There’s a good chance your own warehouse will contain multiple kinds of pallet racking systems. That is all the more reason why you should know what each type is and how it works.
One of the main things to keep track of is whether the warehouse shelving is first in first out (FIFO) or last in first out (LiFO).
Drive In (and Drive-Thru)
A very cost-effective solution to warehouse storage, drive-in and drive-thru shelves allows you to place pallets on rails, providing high density storage. The main difference between the two is that Drive in is LIFO while Drive-Thru is FIFO.
Since this system allows forklifts to “drive-in” to the shelving, there is a very real chance of damage. It is important to exercise extra caution when operating around these shelves. Also note that you can get post-protectors to greatly reduce damages.
Ultimately, Drive-In shelving is recommended for volumes of like-products which are not especially time or date sensitive.
Flow Thru shelving operates under FIFO rotation, meaning the first items you put onto the shelves should be the first ones coming off. The system operates with skate wheels and natural gravity. Items are loaded in one end and gently slide down to the other end to be unloaded.
Once an item is unloaded, the item behind it will slide into place and so on.
Push Back shelving is a LIFO system. You could almost view it as the opposite of Flow-Thru shelving. It’s designed specifically for the number of pallets you will be storing on it. As a new pallet is loaded, the previous pallets are “pushed back”, hence the name.
Once you remove the front pallet, the pallets behind it will slide forward.
Cantilever racks are considerably different from the other shelving. In case you didn’t know, a cantilever shelf is your typical, front loading shelf. Of course, an industrial cantilever rack is much studier and perfect separating smaller loads or loose items.