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How to choose the right warehouse racking system

by James William

Efficient warehousing is an essential element of running a successful business. It helps optimize storage capacity, streamline workflows, and facilitate inventory management. So choosing the right warehouse racking system can help you unlock the full potential of your warehouse and thrive in the competitive commercial landscape.

If you plan on investing in a warehouse racking system or relocating to a new location, here are a few tips to help you select the best for your facility.

1. Set a Budget

Before deciding on a racking system for your warehouse, you need to know how much money is available for the project. Even though this is an approximate amount, it offers businesses some wiggle room in case they decide to spend more on a scalable racking solution that contributes to growth.

2. Assess Your Storage Needs

Businesses often have different storage needs. Therefore, before you consider investing in a racking system for your warehouse, evaluate the storage needs of your products. For instance, a drive-in racking system supports LIFO (Last-In, First-Out) inventory management strategy. The last goods stored are the first to be shipped out to customers, making it ideal for warehouses that house products with a long shelf life.

On the other hand, a drive-through racking system supports a FIFO (First-In, First-Out) inventory management strategy. The first goods stored are the first ones to be shipped, making it a great racking solution for warehouses that store time-sensitive, perishable products.

3. Research Prices of Racking Solutions

Different racking systems have different costs. The price can vary depending on various factors, such as the size of the facility, the load capacity of the racks, the material used to make the racking system, etc. Keep in mind that the cost of implementing a racking solution may also require services to redesign a floor plan and the labor costs of installation.

4. Ask an Expert

There is no one-size-fits-all warehouse racking solution. There are several types with different features and prices. Find a racking system that offers the most value to your business. Filter out the one that aligns with your budget, inventory requirements, available floor space, etc.

However, finding the right racking system for your warehouse is not that simple. You may need to consult a warehouse racking specialist who can help explore all your options. They can assess the facility’s capabilities to find a solution that maximizes the functionality of your space and optimizes internal processes.

5. Evaluate Floor Space

Ideally, the goal is to select a racking system that helps optimize your warehouse’s storage density and floor space. So it only makes sense to analyze the layout of your warehouse before finalizing a racking system for your facility.

Remember that aspects such as the position of doors and windows, as well as the shape, size, and height of the warehouse, can influence which solution you can use.

6. Study Workflows in Your Facility

In a warehouse, goods are constantly on the move from the unloading area to storage racks to packing/shipping docks. Therefore, you need to ensure that the structure and position of the racking solution do not hinder the movement of merchandise within the facility.

7. Consider Accessibility

The sole purpose of a racking solution is to facilitate storage and access to merchandise. So make sure to pick one that allows easy access to goods. There are two basic aspects to consider here.

Firstly, what is the turnaround frequency of the stock? If you have a lot of fast-moving inventory, you need to opt for racking systems that offer quick and easy access to goods, such as selective pallet racking or drive-through racks. On the other hand, if you deal with slow-moving inventory or goods with a long expiry date, then push-back racking or mobile racking is a better option.


Secondly, what is the size of the products you are storing? More importantly, how much space will machinery such as forklifts need to access goods from racks as well as maneuver in and out of the aisles with merchandise? For instance, mobile racking solutions are suitable for warehouses with limited floor space, but cantilever racks are the best solution for large, bulky products.

8. Assess the Durability and Load Capacity of the Racking Solution

Racking systems are expensive, so you want to invest in one that lasts a long time. That means looking at the quality of every structural aspect of the racking solution, including the racks, shelves, support beams, uprights, etc. The entire system must be able to withstand the load of your inventory as well as the constant wear and tear of loading and unloading items from them.

But it’s not only about making a wise financial decision. When it comes to durability, you also want a safe system. The last thing you want is for your employees to get hurt while picking merchandise or for your goods to get damaged.

For this reason, you need to know the load capacity of the racking system. Make sure all components have the same load capacity. Otherwise, the entire system could collapse.

8. Consider Versatility

Warehousing requirements can change from time to time. Consider investing in a long-term warehouse racking solution that allows you to adapt to changing business needs by reconfiguring components. This allows you to use the same system if you need to scale up to accommodate growth, or down if you happen to downsize the business. Moreover, it also means you can reuse the components if you decide to relocate.

9. Think About Custom Solutions

Many warehouse owners find custom racking systems to be the perfect solution for their storage needs. They help provide cost-effective solutions that ensure the optimal organization of materials. Additionally, they help improve the storage capacity of the facility depending on the available floor space and size of the facility.

More importantly, these solutions are designed specifically for your merchandise. For instance, custom steel shelves can accommodate heavy or bulky stock that needs to be accessed with specialized equipment.

10. Factor in Hidden Costs

Besides the cost of structural components and the cost of labor to install your racking system, there are a few additional expenses you should be aware of. For example, extra equipment may be required to load/unload, store, and access merchandise. You may need to offer training programs to teach current employees to use equipment safely or hire trained ones.

More importantly, keep in mind the maintenance cost of your racking solution. How much does it cost to repair or replace the structural components of the system? How often will equipment need to be serviced? Will the task be outsourced to another company or done internally?

Final Thoughts

The type of racking system utilized in your warehouse has far-reaching implications on its productivity and profitability. So it’s crucial to choose wisely. By carefully considering the aspects mentioned above, you can reach an appropriate decision that accommodates your current warehousing needs and offers a strong foundation for future success.

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