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The types of warehouse storage systems

Warehouse storage systems include various storage structures to optimise space better. We cover the available storage systems and how they affect warehouse processes and storage requirements.

Static shelving

Static shelving

The first type of warehouse storage system is static shelving. As the name suggests, these are shelving systems or units that are fixed in place. They are fitted and held into place to add extra stability for safely storing items. Once fitted, they are difficult to move.

Typically, static shelving is used to store inventory with a regular turnover. Due to the nature of static shelving, they are mainly used for holding lightweight stock, not large and bulk pallet shipments. Most material handling equipment, such as forklifts, are unsuitable for static shelving use.

Instead, items must be manually placed, organised, and placed based on the current storage needs. However, this does make it quicker and easier to access smaller items to speed up the pick and pack process. Static shelving also takes up much less room.

Static shelving can either be short span or long span. Short-span static shelving is more suited for smaller items (similar to shelving seen at supermarkets). Long-span static shelving suits bigger items in a larger storage space.

Mobile shelving

Mobile shelving warehouse storage

Mobile shelving is another type of warehouse storage system. Unlike static shelving, which stays in a fixed position, mobile shelving is an adjustable storage system. While very similar in characteristics to static shelving, mobile shelving can hold more items in less space.

That’s because mobile shelving systems are fitted to a rail or carriage system that moves the mobile shelving as access is required. The fixed aisle space is removed between each shelving unit, only creating an accessible aisle as needed. The shelving moves on the rail to provide access.

Mobile shelving is still only designed for storing smaller inventory or items with a regular turnover. However, the space-saving benefits make mobile shelving ideal for smaller warehouse spaces or where space may be limited.

While still usable in warehouses for storing items, mobile shelving is widely used for archives and data storage, as it allows compact storage of large quantities of items. The mobile shelving units’ traction system is installed on the floor or above.

Pallet racking

Pallet racking in a warehouse

Pallet racking is another warehouse storage system widely used for stacking and storing palletised goods. This storage system is most commonly used in warehouse storage as an essential component of storing and distributing stock.

Pallet racking is typically made from wood, metal, or plastic. Due to the construction, pallet racking is much more suited for storing heavy objects. However, the weight capacity can differ. Safe storing of pallets should adhere to the weight capacity.

Unlike static and mobile shelving, pallet racking is suitable for use with handling equipment or can be used in automated storage processes. Such systems can allow for stacking pallets as high as is safe. There are different kinds of pallet racking systems, including:

  • Drive-in racking
  • Shuttle racking
  • Vertical racking
  • Carton-flow racking
  • Coil racking
  • Double-deep racking
  • High-bay racking

The choice of warehouse storage system will depend on weight limits, accessibility, storage flexibility, and the warehouse infrastructure. Pallet racking is more efficient and cheaper than other storage systems.

Tier racking

Multi-tier racking storage systems

Tier racking, or multi-tier racking, is another type of warehouse storage system. Multi-tier racking systems are an ideal choice for warehouses with high vertical space. An efficient way to utilise warehouse space, tier racking allows for manual access to items up to the vertical storage limit.

Tier racking uses multiple tiers to allow for storage and access to items. These tiers act like floors, allowing warehouse personnel to locate and manage stock quickly. However, because tier racking is dense, they are best suited for larger stock quantities with small individual unit sizes.

One of the main advantages of tier-racking systems is the flexibility, allowing you to add or remove depending on storage needs. This allows for tailoring tier-racking systems based on your warehouse space. Items should be packed densely to take full advantage of this racking system.

Weight limits of the racking system and ceiling-to-rack guidelines will still need to be followed for safe and secure storage. This storage system is more adapted for storing small parts, eCommerce site stock, or improving pick and pack operations.

Block stacking

Pallet shipments stacked on warehouse floor

One of the basic forms of warehouse storage systems, block-stacking involves placing pallets on the floor and stacking them on top of one another. This is usually done in blocks or aisles so pallets can be accessed easily.

Any open warehouse space can be used for block stacking. Pallets can be stacked as high as is safe, and no damage will occur with the added weight when stacking.

While block stacking may be ideal for quick and easy access in the loading and unloading areas of a warehouse, some drawbacks make it impractical for long-term storage, including:

  • Can be space intensive.
  • Restricts processes to a last in, first out approach.
  • Can result in underutilisation of space as pallets are removed.
  • The time it takes to retrieve pallets stacked at the bottom.

Mezzanine flooring

Mezzanine flooring storage system

Mezzanine flooring is one more type of warehouse storage system. Similar to tier racking, mezzanine flooring creates additional levels constructed above the main floor, where items can be stored on each level. Such a storage system can yield a massive increase in available storage space.

While an effective and space-saving storage system, mezzanine flooring is one of the most expensive warehouse storage systems. Customised features, such as lighting, conveyor belts, and lifts, can also be added to mezzanine flooring. You can also consider custom designs for mezzanine flooring.

Mezzanine flooring is a great addition to any warehouse looking for additional storage space, as this storage system can double the available space (depending on the warehouse size and existing storage systems). The steel support for the mezzanine flooring is either floor or wall-mounted.

The right choice of storage system is vital for a warehouse. Choosing the right storage system can ensure items are stored safely and securely. It also allows for better space optimisation and more efficient processes that help streamline operational and supply chain processes.

Further reading