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Posted by Stephanie on February 27, 2023

No matter the size of the warehouse you manage, floor space is always going to be a scarce resource. There needs to be enough space available for personnel to be able to reach items, which immediately reduces the amount of storage space that’s available to you. This type of space is referred to as an access aisle. In a basic layout, access aisle space between every shelving unit takes up around 50-60% of total floor space.

Without the right storage solutions in place, your warehouse may be unable to maintain the necessary capacity. The most effective solution you can implement in your facility involves a high-density storage system. These systems are designed specifically to reduce the number of access aisles that are needed. This guide covers the many different types of high-density storage systems at your disposal.

Structural Pushback Racking

What is a High-density Storage System?

High-density storage is a solution that’s based on the concept of condensing all stored items into a smaller amount of space. There are many different products that you can use when implementing this concept into your facility.

Once shelving is moved together, you’ll be able to eliminate extra aisle space. High-density storage systems are often more advantageous than static shelving and lateral cabinets because of their ability to offer the same storage capacity while using up 40-50% less space.

While the access aisles between rows provide your personnel with the ability to reach items that are situated on shelving units, these aisles are redundant. They take up too much space and are always tricky to navigate, which means that using them wastes time and real estate. Once you’ve installed high-density storage systems, you’ll no longer need to use access aisles.

Is High-density Storage Right for My Business?

Before you purchase high-density storage for your warehouse, consider if this solution is right for you. This storage solution may deliver the intended results if your business:

  • Doesn’t have a high enough efficiency in stocking, retrieving, or finding inventory
  • Has much more inventory than available space
  • Has inventory handling costs that are getting out of control
  • Is experiencing high costs associated with adding extra space to the warehouse

Keep in mind that the high-density storage system you choose for your warehouse will need to meet any local quality and safety compliance requirements.

What Types of High-density Systems are Available?

There are numerous types of high-density storage systems you can implement into your facility, which include everything from pallet flow racks to mobile pallet racking, the latter of which is the most modern solution you can obtain.

Structural Pushback Racking

Pallet Flow Racks

Pallet flow racks are made to move inventory with the force of gravity. This technique allows inventory to be transported on rails from one area of a shelving unit to another. New pallets will be loaded onto a side of the system before gliding at a downward angle and resting against any inventory that’s already in place.

Forklifts can then be used to obtain the palette at the furthest end of the system, which allows the pallets behind the furthest one to slide into place. This solution is commonly put in place by businesses that use the first in, first out technique for inventory storage.

Pushback Pallet Rack

The pushback pallet rack is another high-density storage solution that uses the force of gravity. The main difference between the two systems is that the small incline will cause the pallet to be slid to the front portion of the system as opposed to the back.

When your employees place newer pallets on the shelving units, the older pallets will be pushed backwards. However, pallets that are taken from the front of a row will cause the back pallets to move forward on rails. The front pallet will then be ready for collection. This solution is ideal for warehouses that use the last in, first out storage solution.

Drive-in and Drive-thru Pallet Racking Systems

Drive-in and drive-thru systems allow forklifts to drive directly into storage racks in order to retrieve or place pallets, which gets rid of the need for access aisles in your warehouse. Loads will need to be at a width where they can be secure on side rails since shelving won’t be in place to support the load.

Since forklifts are only capable of retrieving the nearest pallet, you can only store inventory with the exact same SKU on one row. You should solely use drive-in and drive-thru systems with first in, last out inventory solutions.

Structural Drive-In Racking

Mobile Pallet Racking

Mobile pallet racking systems use racks that are able to be pushed directly against one another with floor tracks. Since aisles aren’t needed to reach individual racks, you can compress this racking into less floor space.

If you ever need to get to a specific rack, the rest of them can be pushed in another direction to create one access aisle beside the shelf you need to reach. These pallet racks have proven to be popular in cold storage facilities and warehouses.

The shelves that are used with this system are installed on a heavy base and can be slid back and forth with track rails. Depending on the exact system you design or purchase, the units can be operated electronically or manually. The option you choose largely depends on the amount of weight you believe will be loaded onto each rack.

Keep in mind that this is the only type of high-density storage system that combines direct access to products with compact storage. If you control the system electronically, you can use power panels or remote controls to do so. Once the right signal is sent, the racks will cascade open immediately, which leaves the main aisle accessible. Manual operation occurs with a crank wheel or control switch.

Both of these systems are equipped with safety devices that are able to protect the goods as well as the workers. For instance, it’s common for mobile racks to come with interior and exterior barriers that are capable of stopping racks from moving in the event that a foreign object is identified. Additional safety features include emergency buttons and proximity photocells that deliver a smooth stop.

Mobile shelving can also incorporate rail stops that prevent the base from moving past the end of a rail. Cross-bracing sets add stability to mobile racks. Look for photoelectric barriers if you want to be able to lock the entire system. The presence of chain guards will add protection to the rolling component that’s used to move the shelving units.

Greater Efficiencies with High Density

Regardless of the type of high-density storage system you obtain for your warehouse, you’ll benefit from better efficiency in regards to how you use your space. Once the storage solution is installed, aisle space will be minimized as you maximize storage space. In recent years, an increasing number of warehouses are installing high-density storage systems.

When looking specifically at companies that have a lack of space and are attempting to get the most out of their existing warehouse facility, the vast majority of these companies are using high-density storage as their primary solution. Space optimization is more advantageous than ever these days because of the high demand for industrial land and the need to remain competitive.

Once a high-density storage system has been installed in your warehouse, you should immediately notice a boost in storage capacity. Since these systems don’t take up a considerable amount of space, you won’t need to invest as much money into logistics real estate. By taking up less space, your warehouse shouldn’t use as much energy. If you manage a cold storage warehouse, cold air will be properly distributed throughout a larger number of different pallets, which is why this system is ideal for cold storage racking.

Keep in mind that there are a couple of disadvantages of using this storage solution, the primary of which is that you won’t be guaranteed access to every product. Unless you use a mobile base that allows an aisle to be created on command, you’ll only have direct access to a single product for each SKU.

pallet racks
Drive-In Design

Why Choose QMH?

At QMH, we know that a commonly held concern by warehouse managers is how to increase usable storage capacity. If the demand for storage ever increases at a higher rate than anticipated, warehouse managers are left scrambling to find enough space to meet demand. We offer a wide range of storage solutions to meet all of your needs. The high-density systems we provide accommodate the first in, first out (FIFO) and last in, last out (LIFO) flows. If you’re moving into a new warehouse or need to upgrade your current capacity, call us today to learn more about high-density storage systems and what they can do for your warehouse.

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With over 32 years of experience in material handling, QMH is committed to providing end-to-end solutions for companies with distribution, logistic and warehousing needs. From permit approval management to full-service execution from the ground up, QMH delivers unique solutions providing distinct value in record time.