Maximizing your warehouse space is a challenge that regularly recurs because of the need to adapt to any changes that take place to the inventory you manage and the types of pallets you store. The right racking system can resolve efficiency issues by allowing you to more effectively use your warehouse space. There are numerous factors that you should consider when implementing a racking system, which include the ease of unloading and loading operations, your total storage capacity, and the storage layout in your facility.
High-capacity racking systems allow warehouses to more easily carry high amounts of products. However, forklift operators will need to waste time and energy getting to products if the pallets are difficult to remove from the shelving units. In this scenario, productivity drops, which reduces the benefits associated with a racking system.
Selecting the right warehouse racking system is essential if you want to improve warehouse operational efficiency. While there are many types of racking systems to select from, among the more popular options involves the pushback racking system. This guide takes a close look at pushback racking and the advantages it offers.
What is Pushback Racking?
Pushback racking is a type of storage technique that makes it easy for pallets to be positioned around two to six deep on one or both sides of an aisle, which provides you with high storage density when compared to more traditional types of racking. You’re able to combine the single lane solution of a selective racking system with the density of a drive-in rack.
Pushback racking systems work by placing wheeled carts around the pick aisle for each lane. A single pallet is then positioned on the uppermost cart. The forklift will respond by pushing the loaded cart back, which exposes a cart below that the next pallet can be loaded on.
This process will continue until every cart has been loaded. When pallets are taken away, the rear ones will flow forward, which creates an efficient and effective method of unloading pallets. The many components that make up a pushback racking system include:
- Post protectors
- Pallet guidance system
- Pallet backstops
- Pushback shuttle system
- Pushback roller system
Benefits of Pushback Racking
There are many clear advantages of using a pushback racking system in your warehouse, the primary of which include:
- Better space utilization
- Increased storage capacity
- Flexibility and versatility
- Improved selectivity and efficiency
You’ll benefit from better storage capacity and space utilization because of the high storage density that the pushback racking system accommodates. Since the pallets flow naturally towards the front of each rack, you can make these systems deeper than most other ones, which means that products take up less space. If installed properly, pushback racking can boost the number of pallets that are stored in your warehouse space by around 20% compared to other options.
A pushback racking system also helps with pallet retrieval and selectivity. Since the rails are placed close to the aisle, carts can easily move into position whenever a pallet is taken out of the rack. When a pallet is unloaded, another pallet is pushed to the front, which simplifies the retrieval process.
These systems offer ample versatility and flexibility with the inclusion of less aisles but deeper storage. It’s easier for new employees to get used to the warehouse’s layout, which means that productivity should always remain high.
Things to Consider Before Buying Pushback Racking
Before you purchase pushback racking for your warehouse, you should consider:
- Your available floor space
- Storage requirements
- Weight limits and pallet sizes
- Inventory control needs
The total dimensions for a pushback racking system depend on the pallet depth. Most systems accommodate standard sizes that range from 8-28 feet deep. Your storage system height is limited by your facility height, forklift reach, and upright strength.
Make sure that you identify how much floor space is available in your facility before you make a purchase. You don’t want to make the mistake of buying more pushback racking than you need. You should also identify what your current storage requirements are. If you don’t need to use your entire facility as storage space, the pallet racks you buy shouldn’t fill the space.
Identifying pallet sizes and weight limits is also important. Every pallet racking system comes with a weight capacity. If you go above this weight capacity, there’s a greater likelihood that the system will become damaged and the pallets that are loaded in the area will fall. By figuring out what your average and heaviest pallet sizes are, you should be able to choose the right pallet racking for your facility. Make sure that you identify your inventory control needs to choose a system that allows you to maintain your preferred level of productivity.
Pushback Racking vs. Other Pallet Racking Systems
The main types of pallet racking systems at your disposal include:
Pushback racking has a structure that’s similar to a first-in, first-out (FIFO) storage system. However, the pallets are stored like a last-in, first-out system. When new pallets are loaded, previous ones are pushed to the back of the system. These racking structures can also consist of trolleys and rollers for easy removal.
Mobile pallet racking systems are installed beside a chassis that’s guided on the floor via rails. When this system is installed, the lateral displacement of pallets becomes possible. Since this type of structure is small, the aisles have more space to accommodate forklifts.
Drive-in racking is a high-density system that focuses on making a warehouse space more efficient. Once installed, work aisles are removed altogether. The forklift will go directly into the structure to perform loading/unloading operations. This system is ideal with the last-in, first-out technique because of the inclusion of one entry and exit aisle.
As for selective pallet racking, this is the most common racking system available for warehouses and distribution facilities. Selective racking improves storage capacity and provides personnel with instant access to every pallet position. It’s also more affordable than the alternatives.
How to Choose the Right Pushback Racking System
There are several factors you should consider when you’re trying to select the right pallet racking system for your space. First, you should determine what your total available space is, which can be measured by calculating the floor area and ceiling height. When you use vertical storage, the load that’s placed on the floor increases. Make sure that your flooring has enough load-bearing capacity before making a purchase.
You should also choose a pushback racking system that fits the layout of your warehouse. All obstructions in your warehouse should be taken into account, which means that any light fixtures, doors, and fire sprinkler systems should factor into your decision.
If you use forklifts for loading and unloading operations, pushback racking systems are meant to be used with certain sizes of lift trucks. If your racking system is relatively short, a simpler forklift might suffice. On the other hand, taller racks require more advanced equipment. Single-stage forklifts have a limited lifting height. In comparison, quad-stage forklifts accommodate high stacking. The pallet racking of your choice can be customized with different features, components, and size specifications.
Pushback Racking Safety and Maintenance
Pushback racking consists of several safety features that you should consider, which include everything from post protectors to pallet backstops. A post protector is an optional device that protects the system from forklift impacts. These items absorb the impact by spreading it throughout the protector.
Pallet guidance components can be placed in front of every level. The purpose of this component is to make it easier for operators to deposit loads and avoid collisions. As for pallet backstops, they are needed to keep pallets in their proper position. These items are positioned along the back of a lane to keep pallets from being pushed off.
If you want to keep your pushback racking in great condition for years to come, it should be properly maintained and inspected on a regular basis. For instance, make sure that you check the rear and front column for each upright to look for any signs of damage because of forklift impacts or pallet loading issues. Additional maintenance requirements include:
- Check the bracing for any broken welds
- Look for bent diagonals or horizontals
- Inspect for loose sheared anchors
- Make sure that there are no missing bolts or clips along the frame connections
- Look for any frontal damage or downward impact
- Review every level to make sure pallet loads are evenly distributed
When you’re inspecting the pushback rails, look at their alignment to make sure that everything’s in order. Clean any debris that’s present on the rails. The pushback carts should also be inspected to search for wheels that need to be replaced or hardware that’s missing.
Why Choose QMH?
At QMH, we’re a reliable choice for pushback racking systems because we’ve helped create and install them for years. We know how to customize solutions that are multiple pallets deep to make sure that there isn’t as much dead space in your facility. Storage capacity can increase by as much as 25-30%.
The racking systems available at QMH can be optimized with custom accessories that will meet your exact workflow and facility specifications. These accessories include nesting carries, which can be stored several levels deep depending on your storage needs. Call us today to learn more about the pallet racking systems we offer.