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Pallet racking types explained

Long Span Shelving, Pallet racking types

Pallet racking is a popular warehouse storage solution across a range of industries. There are many different pallet racking types to choose from, but all are structured to store items safely while maximising available space.

Pallet racking can vary in its dimensions and materials, with different kinds being more suited to certain applications. Below, we break down the most common types of pallet racking systems so that you can choose the right solution for your warehouse. Read on to discover the key characteristics, strengths and drawbacks of each one.

What is pallet racking?

Pallet racking is a storage system that holds goods in multiple rows on several levels. This unit load makes the most of available vertical space, facilitating item storage and transport along various phases of the supply chain.

As a result, pallet loads play a pivotal part in the logistics of a business – more specifically the handling of goods both inside and beyond the warehouse.

Benefits of choosing the right type of pallet racking

Pallet racking can bring numerous benefits for the storage, handling and transport of goods, including:

  • Clear organisation for easier inventory management
  • Compact storage of goods for more efficient storing
  • Quicker loading and unloading of goods
  • Improved safety and flexibility when transporting goods
  • Potential to lower handling, transport and storage expenses

Selective vs. compact pallet racking systems

Allrack 7

Before diving into the different pallet racking types available, it’s important to understand the two major categories first: selective storage systems and compact storage systems.

Compact pallet racking is a high-density storage system that maximises warehouse capacity. Parallel aisles of pallet racks are located within the structure. With loading and unloading lanes found inside the pallet racking itself, there is no need for service aisles.

On the other hand, selective pallet racking gives users direct access to any pallet load without having to shift other pallets. As a result, every pallet is easy to see, load, and unload. With an array of heights and beam sizes to choose from, it can be custom-configured to suit your industrial equipment.

Selective pallet racking is also relatively affordable on a cost-per-pallet basis, making it the most popular option for warehouses in Australia. That said, this style offers the least storage capacity while taking up the most floor space.

To determine the most appropriate pallet racking style for your operations, you’ll need to define your storage characteristics and context.

What types of goods are you storing?

What is the number and length of palletised SKUs?

How frequent is stock rotation?

What retrieval method is most appropriate?

Is your priority to optimise available storage space or enable efficient access to each unit load?

All of these are key considerations when deciding between selective and compact storage systems, as well as the different pallet racking types below.

7 most common pallet racking types

Let’s take a look at the most popular types of pallet rack systems used in Australia.

1. Very Narrow Aisle (VNA) racking

VNA racking is a compacted version of traditional pallet racking systems. This type of pallet rack takes up almost half the floor area in comparison, enabling you to store up to 50% more goods in the same size space. The height and depth of this pallet racking system can be adjusted to your storage requirements.

However, as this option limits the space between aisles, you’ll need to use turret trucks for loading and unloading as opposed to an entire vehicle.


  • Excellent storage density that makes use of vertical space
  • Direct access to all units with flexible configurations
  • Suitable for large quantities of goods
  • Facilitates high inventory turnover


  • Relatively high initial cost
  • Specialist forklifts required for handling
  • Difficult to store and handle irregularly shaped or oversized products given the limited aisle width
  • Potential for reduced ventilation and lighting

2. Double deep pallet racking

Double Deep Pallet Racking

Double deep pallet racking features the same elements as a selective racking system, apart from one key distinction: the two rows of racking are next to each other, ultimately enabling you to store unit loads at two depths.

The trade-off? You’ll lose a degree of selectivity or direct access to each unit load. As goods are two loads deep, you’ll have to use a double-deep reach truck with an extendable pantograph for any handling.


  • High storage density
  • Custom configuration is possible for different industrial equipment
  • Relatively affordable compared to more sophisticated pallet racking types
  • Simple to install and remove
  • Suitable for when you have a greater number of pallets than SKUs


  • Selectivity is reduced by 50%
  • Does not support frequent order picking from pallets
  • A bottom beam level or longer beams are required to facilitate the double deep reach truck’s outriggers
  • Not recommended for lots of SKUs with single pallets

3. Cantilever pallet racking

Criterion Eagle Farm

Criterion, Eagle Farm Brisbane – Unistor Group

Cantilever pallet racking is a horizontal system structured to store long items like lumber, pipes, aluminium extrusions and carpet rolls.

It uses upright posts with a bolted base and steel arm braces that can be custom-configured to suit any load. As its loading side is free from any vertical barrier, this type of pallet racking allows for easy hand-picking on lower levels and forklift removal.


  • Perfect for storing and transporting long loads, such as sheets of material
  • Simple to install and adjust
  • The front of the system is clear of vertical obstructions, making it easy to stack inventory horizontally
  • It is possible to hand pick products on lower shelves


  • May necessitate extra reinforcement or flooring
  • Only suitable for self-supporting loads
  • A wide aisle is required for material handling equipment

4. Multi-tier pallet rack

A pick module structure or multi-tier racking system is favoured for its smart use of vertical space. With multiple levels for hand picking and loading linked by stairs, they offer high-density storage that is an excellent choice for small items.

It’s important to note that conveying equipment is usually needed to bring picked goods out of the pallet racking.


  • Takes full advantage of vertical space for order picking
  • Direct access to goods without the need for industrial handling equipment
  • Adjustable to various product sizes
  • An enclosed system for improved worker safety


  • More expensive than most other pallet racking types

5. Pallet flow racking

Pallet flow racks use sloping racks to fulfil a First In First Out (FIFO) loading method. A pallet is loaded onto the rack at one end and unloaded from the other after it glides to the front via gravity rollers. Likewise, if a pallet is taken from the front, the next pallet rolls forward to take its place.

Pallet flow storage can boost capacity by up to 300% relative to drive-in or traditional pallet racking types and is perfect for warehouses that store a high volume of perishable goods.


  • Very high-density storage with few aisles required
  • Ideal for bulk storage of a particular SKU that requires FIFO processes, such as seasonal products
  • Enhanced selectivity of goods
  • Only requires a standard forklift with no extra attachments
  • Fast and simple inventory turnover reduces the need for manual labour
    Ideal for limited facility space, as it eliminates the need for aisles thanks to a single shared entry and exit point


  • Typically the most expensive type of pallet racking
  • Pallets are the only way to move goods and may stall on the roll tracks or come into contact with each other due to line pressure
  • Regular maintenance is required on wheels and brakes
  • As an operator must drive the forklift into the pallet racking system, there is a greater risk of damage and safety issues

6. Push-back pallet racking

Push-back pallet racking follows a similar design to pallet flow racking, but with an important distinction. In this case, pallets are stored to facilitate the Last In First Out (LIFO) loading approach.

Pallets are kept on tilted rails with carts. When a new pallet is loaded onto the system, it pushes the preceding pallet towards the back and takes its place. If a pallet is unloaded, the next pallet rolls to the front of the rack.


  • Appropriate for LIFO operations
  • High-density storage that can be customised to particular pallet sizes
  • Ideal for storing a large number of SKUs that require frequent access
  • As forklifts do not go inside the racking system, there is less risk of damage
  • As goods can be accessed from the front of the aisle, fewer pick aisles are needed
  • Quick and easy inventory turnover reduces the need for manual labour


  • Limited to a depth of five to six pallets
  • Lanes can only accommodate pallets of the same size
  • The slope of the system’s rails reduces vertical space
  • Risk of “honeycombing”, whereby disorganised storage results in empty space between products
  • Functioning relies on one load to push the rest – older products may get trapped at the back if this system fails
  • Risk of inventory damage if carts shift forward
  • Wheels, carts, and bearings must be maintained on a frequent basis

7. Longspan shelving

Long Span Shelving

Longspan shelving is a robust racking system for non-palletised goods. To take advantage of available floor space, its longspan shelving rows affix each bay to the final frame. This solution is ideal for storing and hand-picking small to medium-sized products.


  • Cost-effective compared to other pallet racking types
  • Long-lasting and simple to maintain
  • Easy to integrate, adjust and customise
  • Suitable for stock items that are picked to order


  • Does not accommodate machine handling
  • Overloading or a lack of maintenance can lead to issues such as broken beams, swaying structures and unstable shelves

Discover the best pallet racking for your warehouse in Sydney

There are plenty of different pallet racking types available, each of which has its own advantages and disadvantages. With so many pallet rack styles and suppliers to navigate, finding the most suitable solution for your facility can be tough.

Optimise warehouse storage with Pallet Racking Sydney. We provide cost-effective, customised and durable pallet racking systems for any facility, and can advise you on the right choice. Our extensive range includes Schaefer selective racking, cantilever racking, longspan shelving and racking accessories.

Shop online or contact Pallet Racking Sydney today.

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