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Types of Industrial Racking for the Warehouse: Classification and characteristics


Industrial racking systems are metal structures designed to support the goods in a warehouse or industrial facility. The different types of industrial racking are a key element in the smooth functioning of a warehouse and play a central role in the logistics and supply chain operations of companies.

There are types of industrial racking for each situation, storage need or unit load, but all have the advantage of optimising the available space in the warehouse compared to floor level storage.

Today’s reality, with the growth of online shopping and the need to have an extensive network of logistics and distribution centres nationwide, makes optimising space key. To meet this need we have pallet racking systems and picking solutions.

Over the years, the industrial storage systems sector has advanced from adjustable pallet racking systems to the current reality with versatile, dynamic and adaptable systems to the needs of each business.

There are various ways of classifying different types of warehouse industrial racking systems; here we will focus on non-automated storage systems and divide them into two main categories depending on the type of unit load to be stored: Pallet or Pallet Load Racking and Picking Solutions for cartons or small items.

Quality Racking Characteristics

It should be remembered that although industrial racking appears to be a simple product with a standard structure, in reality it is very different.

The design of storage systems from industrial racking is the result of major engineering research and innovation efforts that make it possible to create efficient structures that optimise the time and space of companies internationally.

Some key aspects for considering the quality of the different types of industrial racking are:

  • Engineering: in the most complex storage systems, the structural calculation, load and resistance studies and seismic calculation carried out by a specialist technical team are essential.
  • Reliable production process in each element of the structure: An automated manufacturing process, with control, traceability and quality monitoring in all phases to offer racking of the highest quality.
  • The raw material is the base: using steels of the highest quality standards will make our racking securer and more durable.
  • Compliance with international and local regulations: all global and specific quality regulations in every country must be complied with both in the manufacture and design of industrial racking.
  • Tests and simulations: all the above key aspects must undergo field tests to certify the reliability of the racking elements. In AR Racking, we have a Research and Test Laboratory for this in collaboration with the University of Mondragón.

Types of Racking System by the type of load

After defining the keys for a quality industrial racking system, we break down the different types of non-automated industrial racking according to the type of unit load they will have to support.

We divide these storage systems into two main groups: Pallet Racking and heavy loads and Picking Solutions and light loads.

Types of Industrial Racking for pallets

Pallet racking is a type of industrial racking designed to support large loads that will be lifted by the handling equipment.

We can divide pallet racking into 4 major categories: adjustable pallet racking, compact pallet racking, live pallet racking and mobile pallet racking.

Adjustable Pallet Racking

Standard Adjustable Pallet Racking

Adjustable Pallet Racking is a type of industrial racking that stores pallets mechanically using forklifts.

The forklifts access the goods via the aisles that run parallel to the racking, and have direct and immediate access to all the unit loads stored.

They have a standard aisle width and store a single pallet at the back of the racking, unlike the other 2 conventional systems outlined below.

Very Narrow Aisle Pallet Racking

Very Narrow Aisle (VNA) Pallet Racking is a compact version of adjustable pallet racking, creating a higher density and capacity storage system without the need for more space.

This type of adjustable pallet racking is compacted by narrowing the aisles, resulting in a space saving of over 40%. The minimum aisle width must be 1.5 m in this type of system.

To be able to work correctly in the warehouse with these VNA racking systems, special handling equipment for VNA is required.

Double Deep Pallet Racking

Double Deep Pallet Racking is a conventional storage solution, but which shares common features with compact racking.

In this type of industrial racking system, the pallets are stored at two depths, thus achieving higher storage density. Unlike standard adjustable pallet racking, in double deep pallet racking the operator does not have direct access to all the pallets stored.

Double deep pallet racking must also be used with special forklifts equipped with telescopic forks or a pantograph mechanism to easily and quickly access the second pallet stored.

 Compact Racking

Compact Racking is a high-density storage system that fully optimises warehouse space and height by reducing the truck’s work aisles to the maximum.

In these types of warehouse racking systems, parallel aisles are generated inside the structure, where forklifts can enter and move around for the pallet loading and unloading process.

Compact storage systems are suitable when the problem of space takes priority over direct access to or selectivity of all the unit loads stored.

There are two main compact racking systems: Drive in and Drive Through.

Drive in Pallet Racking (LIFO)

The Drive In compact system is the most used. It only requires one access aisle for the forklift and works according to the LIFO (Last in, First out) stock management method, where the last pallet in is the first one to leave.

This type of compact storage is recommended in warehouses with homogeneous products that have low rotation of material.

Drive Through Pallet Racking (FIFO)

Drive Through racking needs two work aisle accesses, one on each side of the racking. Works according to the FIFO (First in, First out) method, where the first pallet in is the first one to leave.

FIFO is a storage system recommended for warehouses with high rotation products; however, space optimisation is less than in Drive In racking.

Live Pallet Racking

Live pallet racking is a type of compact storage system that takes advantage of the forces of gravity and pushing to optimise pallet storage.

Its peculiarity is that using these 2 forces, the pallets are moved inside the racking to their desired position.

The two main types of live pallet racking are the gravity FIFO Live Storage system and the Push-Back LIFO system.

Gravity FIFO Live Pallet Racking system

FIFO Live Pallet Racking consist of a compact structure with roller beds at each height that allow the pallets to slide easily thanks to a slight incline.

This type of system uses the FIFO method (First in, First out), where the loading area is at the opposite end to the unloading area, with the pallets travelling that distance on a system of rollers that form a slightly inclined rail.

It is the best system for warehouses that require perfect stock rotation and good use of the available space.

Push-Back LIFO Racking

Push-Back LIFO Racking is a live storage solution for accumulation of pallets that uses the LIFO method (Last in, First out) to manage the unit loads.

This type of pallet racking only has one loading and unloading area at the front of the structure, and the pallets are stored by pushing the previous ones towards the back of the racking with a small controlled force.

There are 2 types of Push-Back racking systems depending on the method of movement used: Push-Back with shuttles and Push-Back with rollers.

 Mobile Racking or Mobile Bases System

Mobile Racking is a storage solution in which the metal structure is mounted on mobile bases or a chassis which are guided by rails fixed to the floor.

With this movement of the racking bays only one work aisle is opened for forklift access: the aisle to work in.

This type of industrial racking has electric motors and remote traction elements that enable its movement from one side to the other.

The characteristics of mobile racking makes it the ideal solution for cold stores, due to reducing the total volume to be cooled.

Types of Picking Solutions or Shelving

Picking solutions or longspan shelving are storage solutions for generally less heavy and bulky products, typically cartons, small items or other products.

This type of industrial racking operates without using handling or elevation equipment, although it is possible to combine picking solutions with pallet racking systems, making them very versatile solutions for a warehouse.

Picking Solutions are normally located in the warehouse in order preparation areas, filing spaces or maintenance areas.

Longspan Shelving

Longspan Shelving allows the manual storage of medium and small-size products. This type of racking is very versatile and adaptable to a wide variety of unit loads and allows direct and quick access to all stored materials.

It is an easy to assemble system that allows adding various accessories to its basic structure to adapt to the company’s needs, such as the solutions for the textile sector.

Multi-Tier Racking

Multi-Tier Racking is a type of manual industrial racking that makes it possible to optimise the available space of a warehouse thanks to use of the height.

In this storage system, aisle levels at different heights are created which are accessed by stairs.

Carton Flow Rack Systems

Carton Flow Rack Systems are a high-density storage system for cartons and light unit loads. They enable significant space savings and efficient stock control.

The various light unit loads slide along pulley rails or rollers with a slight incline.

You can see here the comparison between the different picking and shelving solutions.

AR Light Shelving

AR Light Shelving is a type of system similar to Longspan Shelving, but designed to store lighter and smaller loads.

This shelving can be used both in an industrial warehouse and in offices and allows quick access to the goods stored.


If you need any advice on the most suitable type of industrial racking for your warehouse, AR Racking will be happy to help you.

Please request information by clicking here and our team will recommend the ideal system.