How to

29 August 2017

Optimising Warehouse Storage Facilities: How Pallet Racks Should Be Designed


Ensuring that stock is not damaged in cold storage is vital. Considering that pallet racks in these facilities can undergo a great deal of abuse from forklifts, it’s necessary for warehouses to be optimised to prevent the safety of stock from being compromised.

Forklifts cause problems for a number of reasons – confined space and slick surfaces being some of the biggest – and as such, the type of pallet rack suitable for cold storage is one that’s more rugged and has a stronger support system. Alongside being able to cope better with rougher handling from forklifts, they’re also best if they offer greater storage density. Although initial costs for such pallet racks are higher than those of traditional ones, the money saved by reducing frequent repairs and replacements makes it the more financially secure option.

Take roll-formed racking as an example of where pallet storage systems can improve. The structure sits pallets at an angle and allows gravity to do the work – one load moves forward as another is removed. With speed controllers that act as brakes and the need for a forklift reduced to just the initial loading and unloading process, it seems effective. However, these structures can deteriorate a great deal over time and, while good for optimising storage and product rotation, require an upgrade of sorts to refrain from incurring so much damage.

This has been observed in cold storage facilities all over, including in one belonging to Midwest, one of the largest food companies in the world. David Schultz, the man behind implementing new pallet flow systems in facilities like this, explained that “the roll formed rack in their freezer was worn out, and needed to be replaced with a rack that could withstand prolonged high-volume use.”

In its place, the company put in the SK3000 pallet flow system by Steel King Industries. Having been proven to have greater impact resistance and longevity in colder environments, the system was seen as an effective replacement, especially with its improved structure. The presence of horizontal-diagonal bracing creates better frame strength and durability, ensuring that it will remain in working condition for many years to come.

Structures like this need to be considered to ensure that a facility remains reliable and cost-effective, but also to improve cleanliness among storage. Structural rack systems can be designed as an open channel rack, which allows for ease of cleaning, or as an enclosed tubular rack. These designs eliminate the accumulation of dust and debris by only having column holes where bolts will be placed. Where food products are concerned, it’s important to consider sanitation as one of the top priorities because of the risk contamination.

Other ways to optimise warehouse storage systems include making them resistant to corrosion due to the cold environment and having added defence on pallet entries to lower the impact of forklift manoeuvres. The former can be achieved through dipping the rack in molten zinc so that the iron reacts with it to form an alloy coating that protects against corrosion. As for the latter, Schultz was able to achieve this in his own designs through the placement of steel wheels at the pallet entries.

In a cold storage warehouse, efficiency and safety are key for the facility to function successfully. For this to be the case, pallet racks have to be designed the right way, and what we’ve talked about here covers the majority of those necessary features. There is no one design that’s superior for this purpose, but if the system currently in place is falling foul to forklift damage and deterioration then it’s about time to consider a new style of pallet rack.

The integrity of your storage products requires it.


James Darvill

James is a passionate scriptwriter and reluctant poet with a talent for the dystopian. His love for cold weather sports and hiking in the winter gives him the enthusiasm for writing about keeping warm.