The Ultimate Buying Guide for Pallet Racking

[Image Attribution: kadmy via Getty Images]


As you establish or revisit your inventory management plan, be sure it includes the Shelves and Racks that hold the products and materials you keep in stock. Incorporating smart Shelving and Racking strategies into your plan keeps your warehouse or distribution center organized and ensures clear pathways for workers and equipment.


Material storage isn’t just about giving everything its place, however. Proper organization using pallet racking can drastically improve worker productivity, minimize safety issues, keep floors clear, and speed up order fulfillment. The right storage and shelving systems also maximize available square footage.


In this guide, we uncover three tips to help you select a pallet racking system for your warehouse or distribution facility. The right pallet racking system can make use of limited space, protect material, make order fulfillment more efficient, and increase storage capacity.


1. Consider your pallet racking system components


Understanding the components that come together to create a pallet rack—and how they work together to provide stability and storage—can help you configure a system to your needs based on available space as well as load and weight size.


Vertical uprights (sometimes called “columns”) serve as the frame for a pallet rack. They’re available in different depths, heights, and gauges to support the weight of the products being stored. Uprights also have holes or slots that allow beams to be mounted onto them.


Beams serve as the horizontal supports for the pallet rack system, providing a surface for safe pallet placement. There are two beam styles to choose from:


1 .Box beams have a box-like shape similar to 2x4 lumber and use clips to attach themselves to a vertical upright. The construction of a box beam allows it to hold heavier loads per square inch as compared to a step beam.


2. Step beams have L-shaped steps in their design, with slots along the lower edge of the steps. These steps support solid-surface materials that help maintain a flat storage area.


Components help you turn a pallet racking system into a customized inventory management solution that works the way you need it to. There are a variety of accessories you can use to set up a pallet rack to meet your needs:


  • Wire, solid, or perforated decking can be installed to support loads of different sizes and weights. It also allows light and air filtering between the beams, which may be important based on what types of products you’re storing.


  • Crossbars reinforce a pallet racking system by taking some of the load off the beams and distributing the weight more evenly across the entire system. They also create additional support for the bottom of a load.


  • Dividers help keep your inventory separated and organized across each row. This is especially helpful with smaller products or when similar SKUs are stored side by side.


  • Gravity flow levels allow inventory loads to be placed on one end of the rack and easily moved down to the other end. They can also make it easier to reach inventory and minimize back-and-forth travel for workers.


2. Know your storage and shelving dimensions


It may sound simple, but it’s an often-overlooked step: When you’re planning your pallet racking system strategy, make sure to measure the space first—as well as the materials you’ll store (including the pallets that the products will sit on). Having this information helps align your purchase with your needs and ensures you don’t overspend or end up with a pallet racking system that doesn’t fit where you need it to.


There are three common pallet sizes:





Knowing which pallet sizes you work with most often will help you plan the right pallet racking system. A helpful hint: To make the most of your space, the beam lengths of your pallet racking system should be a multiple of the pallet dimension you use most frequently. Remember that beam capacity is always listed as capacity per beam pair. This number is based on the static weight of evenly distributed loads.*



When it comes to uprights, the height you choose will depend on your ceiling height, the product you plan to store, and the recommended capacity limits for the manufacturer.


The weight capacity of an upright is determined by beam spacing (the height between levels). To find this number, measure the distance between the storage levels. The more space between levels, the lower the capacity of the pallet rack’s upright.


3. Take steps to ensure safety and security


Implementing proper safety precautions is key to making sure your pallet racking system brings efficiency and value, not safety concerns.


Take these steps to keep your workers safe and your materials secure.


  • When storing products on shelves, there’s always the risk of them falling. Safety netting and mesh guards can prevent this by providing a fall-protection barrier that still offers visibility and ventilation. These products can also make it more difficult for products to be stolen.


  • If forklifts and other pieces of material-handling equipment are used in your warehouse or distribution environment, then adding more stability to the base of the pallet racking system will ensure that it withstands accidental contact. Rack guards act as a buffer between machinery and the rack, reducing impact and helping to prevent rack failure.


  • As your needs change over time, you’ll likely need to transport the components of your pallet racking system as you reconfigure. A pallet rack mover can make moving empty pallet racks possible without having to disassemble them.


  • When pallet racking systems are used outdoors, they should be placed on the pavement and secured with poured concrete pillars to properly support racking loads.


If you’re ready to incorporate pallet racking into your inventory management plan—or expand on what you already have—then Global Industrial’s product experts are here for you. Contact our in-house storage experts for help finding the right configuration for your needs.


*Pallet Rack Disclaimer: The capacity LBS limitations apply to static (non seismic) conditions only. If seismic conditions apply, verification of capacities must be confirmed with a seismic engineer. Global Industrial is not responsible for engineering, installation and/or application of this material. In addition, Global Industrial is not responsible for securing any necessary permits. It is the full responsibility of the customer to check the contents and quantities. The capacity LBS limitations are provided for reference only and based on an evenly distributed load.


The information contained in this article is for informational, educational, and promotional purposes only and is based on information available as of the initial date of publication. It is the reader’s responsibility to ensure compliance with all applicable laws, rules, codes and regulations. If there is any question or doubt in regard to any element contained in this article, please consult a licensed professional.  Under no circumstances will Global Industrial be liable for any loss or damage caused by your reliance on this article.


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