Drive-In Pallet Racking - Your Complete Guide

drive in pallet racking

Drive-In Pallet Racking is a high volume storage system that maximises floor space by eliminating the need for aisles, in favour of specialised guide rails in which products are stored. It’s commonly used in warehouses, distribution centres and cold storage facilities. It’s best suited to the storage of items where stock rotation frequency is low. With Drive-In Pallet Racking, inventory can be stored several or more pallets deep, resulting in tightly packed storage that comes at the cost of reduced selectivity capabilities, as items towards the back of the rails take progressively longer to retrieve. 

How Does Drive-In Pallet Racking Work?

Drive-In Pallet Racking utilises the LIFO (last in, first out) method of retrieval, with forklift operators hoisting the items to the desired level, before driving into the storage lane and placing it at the farthest end using the guide rails. The procedure is duplicated until the lane is fully loaded. Loading items in this manner prevents specific pallets from being retrieved at will.

Forklift operators are instead forced to unload items from the front in order to reach the back. This means that logistical considerations must be taken into account, ensuring that items that are most likely to be needed first, are indeed loaded last. This drawback can be negated by installing a drive-through mechanism that allows forklift operators to retrieve items from the front and back of the storage system. Drive-In systems are often positioned against a wall or closed off at the front or backend.

How to Safely Load Items

Understanding how to safely load items into a Drive-In Pallet Racking system is essential to preventing injuries to forklift operators, as well as reducing the risk of damage to inventory and the storage system itself.

Forklift drivers should drive into the system at a controlled pace to avoid accidentally striking the upright frames. Before loading pallets, it’s important that the forklift is confirmed to be of a suitable size for the storage system.

How to Safely Unload Items

Whilst productivity is a high priority for every warehouse, it never outranks safety. The storage lanes used in drive-in racking systems can be quite deep, so forklift operators must be extra cautious when backing out, to prevent them from damaging the racks and injuring nearby personnel.

Maintaining Drive-In Pallet Racks

With personnel driving directly into the pallet racks to load and unload inventory, it’s vital that rack systems are kept in good working order. Typically, maintenance is seldom required, but it’s important that regular in-house inspections are performed to help identify any possible structural damage that could prove hazardous if left unrepaired. It’s highly recommended that warehouses incorporate pallet racking protectors to limit rack damage by forklifts.

What Are the Advantages of Drive-In Pallet Racking?

  • Allows for optimal use of warehouse storage space, with no aisles required and pallet racks able to be stored up to 11 metres high (33 feet)
  • The high density nature of the system makes it a more cost-effective solution for cold storage (refrigerated items or frozen goods)
  • Ideal for storing pallets that contain similar items
  • Offers a high degree of stability and protection for individual pallets, making it a perfect solution for the storage of fragile items that are unable to be stored in traditional stacks
  • Can save up to 85% storage space when compared to other pallet storage systems
  • Can be used with ordinary forklifts (no need for companies to purchase expensive Narrow Aisle Forklifts)
  • Can be modified to become a drive-through pallet racking system, to enable the loading and retrieval from both sides of the pallet rack
  • Systems can be purpose built to suit your forklifts and pallets

What Are the Disadvantages of Drive-In Pallet Racking?

  • The LIFO nature of the system means that pallets located towards the back of the storage lanes cannot be retrieved without first removing the items in front, hampering productivity
  • The LIFO retrieval method also means that stock rotation is time consuming
  • Despite being an excellent system for high density storage purposes, if items at the back of the storage lanes are not unloaded often enough, this results in 

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