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Posted by Stephanie on April 3, 2023

Selecting the right pallet size for your warehouse will help you save a large sum of money while also improving workplace safety and increasing efficiency. Since there are many different pallet racks at your disposal, knowing the ideal size and weight capacity should make it easier for you to purchase properly sized pallet racks.

Keep in mind that your warehouse operations are only going to be profitable if you’re able to fulfill orders in an efficient manner. If your inventory is disorganized, productivity could be much lower than you’d like. Less productivity equals less revenues and profits.

While there are many steps you can take to improve warehouse productivity, the most important component is having the right racking solution. Once you’ve installed the best racking system in your facility, you should benefit from on-time shipping and more accurate picking. In this article, you’ll find out how to choose the right pallet racking dimensions.

Pallet Racking

Understanding Pallet Rack Sizes

Pallet rack systems are necessary for every distribution center. They are designed to give you space for storing and organizing your products until they are ready to be shipped out. These steel structures are made from a combination of upright frames, cross braces, posts, and horizontal beams. The beams that are positioned between every upright frame support the pallet weight. Higher frames result in beams that are spaced out further. The average height of a pallet rack is around 25 feet.

Frames and beams can be properly connected with two distinct methods, which include bolting every component to the upright frames or using an interlocking system to create a slotted connection for each piece. When you’re trying to find the right-sized pallet rack for your warehouse, there are several different aspects of the system that you’ll need to take into account, which include the frame depth, frame height, and beam size.

Determining Your Storage Needs

The first thing you should do is determine what your storage needs are. As mentioned above, everything from the frame depth to the beam size will determine which size of pallet rack is right for you. Traditional pallets are 40 inches wide and 48 inches deep. However, pallets are available in numerous dimensions, which is why you should take steps to measure the pallets that you’ll be storing on pallet racks.

If you know the weight of your average and heaviest pallets, you should have a better understanding of which pallet racks you should buy. If you make the mistake of placing too much weight on pallet racks, the entire system would become a safety hazard. There are several variables for you to keep in mind when calculating your required storage capacity, which include:

  • Pallet load dimensions with width x length
  • Warehouse area with width x length
  • Total number of pallets for each beam level
  • Number of beam levels
  • Number of pallets deep
  • Spacing between pallets
  • Clear aisle dimensions
  • Number of levels in racking

You can use these figures to calculate your warehouse storage capacity and identify the number of pallets that are able to be stored there.

Pallet Shuttle

Choosing the Right Pallet Rack Size

When you’re trying to select the right pallet rack sizes, there are numerous factors that you should consider, which include:

  • Identifying the weight and size of your pallets
  • Calculating frame depth
  • Determining the frame height
  • Choosing the beam size

As mentioned previously, the first step in finding the right size for your pallet racks is to identify the weight and size of your pallets, which requires some basic measurements of the average and heaviest pallets.

The next step is to calculate the frame depth, which determines the spacing between load beams. If a pallet is correctly stored, it should hang over the beams by around three inches, which allows these beams to accommodate the entire pallet weight. A proper fit occurs by subtracting six inches from the pallet depth, which allows for a three-inch overhang on each side.

The load beams that are present on pallet racks are meant to carry the pallet’s weight. As for the wire decking, it helps with weight distribution but can’t handle the entire weight of a pallet. Pallet rack frames can have depths of 36, 42, and 48 inches.

The third step in this process is to determine the height of the frame, which will allow you to identify which pallet racking sizes you require. In most cases, a highly affordable method you can use to store more of your products is to use vertical space with larger pallet rack frames. The most common pallet rack frame sizes include:

  • 8 ft.
  • 10 ft.
  • 12 ft.
  • 16 ft.
  • 20 ft.
  • 24 ft.

When you’re choosing frame height, you should identify how tall your ceiling is. There should be at least 18-24 inches of space between your product and the ceiling, which ensures that you comply with all fire codes. In the event that your warehouse ceiling is 16 feet up and the pallets are three-feet tall, the pallet rack frame shouldn’t be taller than 12 feet. Make sure that trusses, pipes, and sprinklers positioned below your ceiling are also considered.

It’s best that you choose a frame that goes as high as is reasonably allowed in your facility. Even if you don’t need the space at the moment, the cost difference between a 10-foot frame and a 16-foot frame is relatively small.

The fourth and final step in choosing the right size of pallet racking is to select a beam size. Pallet rack beams are displayed with a specific height and length. The length dictates the number of pallets that can be stored with each beam level. The most common beam length is eight feet, which gives you the ability to store two 48 x 40 pallets. Make sure that you have three inches of total clearance between the pallet and the upright. Four inches of clearance is necessary between pallets.

If you have weighed your pallets and have the numbers on hand, you can find out which beam is right for you. The length of a beam determines what the pallet rack load capacity is. Beam capacities are shown per beam level, which means that it takes two beams into account.

In the event that you want a load capacity that exceeds 5,000 pounds for every beam level, the eight-foot beam will likely suit your needs. When your pallets aren’t as heavy, you may benefit from a 12-foot beam. The face size of a beam can be anywhere from three to six inches.

Selective Pallet Rack

Selecting the Right Pallet Rack Capacity

Selecting the right pallet rack capacity requires knowing how much weight pallet rack beams are capable of supporting. The overall weight capacity depends on the beam weight and the beam height. Let’s say that you purchase a pallet rack with a beam length of eight feet. With this beam length, there are four separate beam heights you can obtain, each of which comes with its own weight capacity. These capacities include:

  • Three-inch – 2,000 pounds
  • Four-inch – 4,000 pounds
  • Five-inch – 6,500 pounds
  • Six-inch – 8,000 pounds

A 10-foot beam supports anywhere from 1,200 pounds to 7,000 pounds.

Additional Considerations for Choosing Pallet Racks

There are several additional considerations that will play a part in the pallet racks you choose, which include rack configurations, rack decking options, and accessories. The types of pallet racking systems at your disposal include:

  • Selective racking – This is the most common form of warehouse racking. It comes with horizontal load beams that connect directly with vertical uprights. Selective racking comes with an open design that makes it highly accessible.
  • Drive-in racking – A drive-in racking system maximizes ground space with a last-in, first-out approach, which makes it easy for forklifts to navigate the aisles.
  • Pallet flow racking – This form of racking is commonly used for heavy and dense storage loads. Pallet flow racking is mainly used in the first-in, first-out loading system.
  • Pushback racking – Pushback racks offer high-density storage with a last-in, first-out approach. The pallets are positioned on a cart. When another pallet is placed, the initial one will be pushed back into the system.
  • Carton flow racking – These racks use the first-in, first-out technique with a rear-load design. Inventory management is simple with a carton flow rack.

The types of pallet rack decking that you can select include plywood, bar grating, corrugated steel, and solid steel. As for accessories, the many different types that you can add to your pallet racking system to extend its functionality include:

  • Column guards
  • Floor shims
  • Fork bars
  • Load stops
  • Safety netting
  • Row spacers
  • Pallet supports
  • Wall ties

Tips for Accurate Pallet Rack Measurements

To obtain accurate pallet rack measurements, you’ll first need to measure your pallets. Measure the width and length of the pallet in inches, after which you should measure the pallet height in inches. The total volume is obtained with the following calculation:

Length x Width x Height = Pallet Volume

You should also measure the available floor space in your warehouse, which is done by first measuring the total floor area. The next step involves subtracting out all space that’s occupied by restrooms, offices, or non-storage space.

If you already have pallet racking systems in your warehouse, you can measure an existing pallet rack by measuring the outer edge of the upright, which will provide you with the upright depth. You should also measure the column’s inside face and outside face.

Why Choose QMH?

Choosing the right-sized pallet racks for your warehouse is essential if you want to maximize your space and make the loading and unloading processes more efficient. There are many pallet racking solutions to select from, which is why it’s highly recommended that you seek professional assistance to find the optimal solution for your facility. Call us today to begin your search.

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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.