Pallet racks are storage systems composed of frames and beams designed specifically for the efficient loading, sorting and storing of palleted loads. Pallets, which are simply a base made from wood or plastic, are used constantly in the transportation and shipping of products. By providing a uniform base size and shape, products can be stored more effectively.
Pallet racks take into account the size of the pallets and allow for maximum storage capacity by allowing the palleted loads to be stacked vertically and horizontally. Forklifts are often used to move and lift pallets within warehouses and loading facilities. Depending on the ceiling height of a facility, if fork lift trucks are available, pallets can be stored on high reaching racks. The desired accessibility of stored goods will affect the manner in which they are stored. Push back racks are one of the most commonly used type of pallet racking system as they are organized by depth, greatly reducing the required aisle space. The rails of the rack are slightly angled, using gravity to aid in moving the pallet loads and thus reducing the amount of energy required for loading and unloading. Other designs of pallet racking systems will differ depending on the size and shape of the pallet themselves. Cantilever racks used for pallet storage use horizontal supports which allow for the storage of oversized items without end vertical obstructions.
Due to the nature of the operation and the typically large and heavy loads on pallets, there are important safety considerations to follow. An important consideration to take into account is the load weight of a particular item and the corresponding required structural strength of its support shelving. Overloading racks or using pallets which are damaged or broken could result in disastrous aspects. In warehouse racking, the safety of personnel working around the storage rack systems, as well as the protection against damage to goods is important. Rails and columns should be secured and made of materials which are strong enough to hold the weight of heavy loads. Further safety measures can be added in the form of wire mesh decking or grids across the racks to increase the strength of the shelving, and to prevent objects falling down. Rollers can also be added to the racks to create rolling racks which further aid in loading and unloading ease. Pallet racks may be purchased new or used. Used racks are a cheaper alternative and for many standard pallet load sizes are more than adequate to meet storage needs. Manufacturing new pallet racks may be necessary however for spaces or loads which require unique dimensions or specifications.