Maintenance Q&As

What is warehouse racking?

Answered July 28 2019

Warehouse racking is the system of shelves, configuration, and location of the physical structure required to hold your inventory items. Typically made from plastic, metal, or wood, warehouse racking plays an important part in how easy it is to store and retrieve your inventory items as well as how efficiently your warehouse operates.

 

Types of Racking

The most popular kind of warehouse racking is called selective racking. In this system, aisles can be narrow as they only need to provide enough space for one pallet to move through. Employees or robotic picking systems select items from the aisle and they are only one pallet deep.

According to Supply Chain Management Review, using pallets along with a warehouse racking system can save thousands of dollars.

In warehouses that require dense storage, you may choose a drive-in or drive-through racking system. The system you select depends on your inventory process. If you use a last-in-first-out (LIFO) process for low turnover items, you’ll want a drive-in racking system. If you stock items that have a use-by date and follow a first-in-first-out (FIFO) process, you’ll want a drive-through racking system.

Another racking system for LIFO processes and high-density storage is the push-back rack. These racks are typically as deep as two to five pallets and moves the rows forward or back on rails and carts depending on inventory volume. Similar to push-back racks, gravity racks perform in a vertical plane, receiving new goods at the top and dispensing older goods from the bottom.

Racking as Part of Overall System

Facilities must take into account things like cost, ceiling height, floor space, product life, and inventory requirements before selecting the best warehouse racking system.

In addition, this system must play one role in overall inventory management. Labeling, barcoding or RFID technology as well as a centralized computer system like a CMMS must work hand-in-hand with a racking system so that inventory can be easily accessed and managed efficiently.

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