Drive in racks

Drive in Racks

Drive in or drive through racking is a storage system that maximizes the use of available warehouse space in the detriment of immediate accessibility. These racks can go as deep as twelve pallets and as high as six to seven pallets, although selectivity becomes increasingly reduced with more complex systems.

Warehouses handling high volumes of stock can benefit most from the implementation of drive in racking, while in some cases, only part of a warehouse is converted to this type of storage for an optimal effect. In what follows, you can find out more about the advantages and drawbacks of drive in pallet racking and whether the latter is a good choice for your storage space.

Basic Characteristics of a Drive In Racking System

Basic Characteristics of a Drive In Racking System

In a drive in racking system, each row of pallets is equipped with rails, rather than beams. An operator using a forklift can drive into the racking system and place the first pallet at the end of a lane, hence why it’s called a “drive in” rack. Then, he can place another pallet just behind the pallet the first, and so on. Removing a pallet is a similar process, with the noteworthy observation that if a pallet at the back of the row must be removed, the operator must first relocate any pallets in front of it.

The system is, as such, organized on FILO (First-In-Last-Out) access, which can be a disadvantage in certain industries or in warehouses where order picking is done from pallets. Otherwise, drive in racking can save up significant space and is ideal for depositing large numbers of pallets per SKU (stock keeping unit) for the same product.

To improve the issue of accessibility, drive in racks can be designed with a double entry or with the possibility to drive through the entire rack. The latter is particularly useful in warehouses that handle products with a short shelf life because it can help organize inventory on a FIFO (First-In-First-Out) basis and thus avoid significant losses of stock. For this type of system, the number of necessary aisles is drastically reduced, while each aisle requires up to 3.5m of clear space for reach trucks or 4.5m for counterbalanced forklifts.

Components of drive in racks

Components of drive in racks
Upright Frame

The support structure of a complete drive in rack system, from the beginning of each lane to the end, consists of two upright posts, diagonal/horizontal bracing that connects the latter, and a row spacer that ties the frames.

Support Arm

This is the component that holds the support arm rail. It is fastened to the upright posts using bolts and nuts

Top Beam

This is the tie beam placed on top of each bay in order to increase the overall stability of the system.

Top Bracing

A horizontal X profile bracing is positioned at the top of the system and connected using turnbuckles or bolts & nuts

Support Arm Rail

Also called a pallet support rail, this is the long rail on top of which drivers can place the pallets.

Post Protector

Because it prevents forklifts from hitting the posts, this is a very important component for drive in racking safety

Floor Guide Rail

You’ll find this rail made of thick angle steel anchored to the ground on the floor of each lane. Because the lane is narrow, the forklift may hit the racking system when inside the rack. The guide rail, on the other hand, can stop the forklift wheels before they hit the rack. This is not a compulsory part of the system, but it is highly recommended for customers whose budgets can support the expense. The floor guide rail is very important for the safety of the complete racking system.

Drive In Racking: Uses and Advantages

Drive in racking is a very high density storage system that is similar to block stacking, but that can be built higher and is more likely to ensure the integrity of stock. Its uses and advantages include:

Increased storage capacity.

Drive in pallet racking is one of the most dense storage systems out there. It can go up to 12 pallets deep and up to 7 pallets high, which is unmatched by any other form of storage. Because fewer aisles are necessary to operate such a system, the latter also clears up additional floor space.

FIFO access is possible

A typical drive in racking system with one or two entries offers accessibility on a FILO basis, which is not suitable for warehouses that handle products with a limited shelf life. Drive through racking is, however, a viable option for industries working with perishable stock because, when organized properly, it permits FIFO inventory management.

Ideal for temperature controlled storage spaces like cold stores or cold chain warehouses

Ensuring temperature control in areas of a warehouse can be very expensive, which is why, as a warehouse manager, you’ll want to take advantage of every inch of available space. Drive in racks can help you achieve that better than any other storage alternative currently on the market.


A drive in racking system is one of the most affordable storage solutions from the point of view of cost per pallet. It can help warehouse managers save money when they are pressed for space and it can ensure that expensive areas of the warehouse, such as areas that provide refrigeration, are used to maximum capacity.

Overall, drive in pallet racks are ideal for warehouses that handle a large number of pallets per SKU, but that cannot employ block stacking out of concern for product integrity. They are also cost-effective when used in combination with cold or freezer types of storage and will allow the deposit of oversized loads.

Drive In Pallet Racking: Drawbacks

In spite of the obvious advantages, drive in pallet racks are not suitable for all applications. The most noteworthy drawbacks to consider include:

FILO access

Unless you opt for drive through racking, a drive in racking system will only permit FILO access, which increases the risk that products with a short shelf life will be ruined by the time they are removed from storage.

Not suitable for order picking from pallets

The second issue about FILO inventory management is that order picking can be extremely slow if done from pallets. Drive in racking is thus only suitable when a lane of pallets can be organized to contain a single SKU and not a mix. Otherwise, the time it would take an operator to access products from a pallet stored towards the back of the lane would make the entire system unfeasible.

Costly initial investment

Drive in pallet racks are cost-effective when considered from the point of view of cost per pallet, but overall, the initial investment to convert to such a system can be pricey. The investment for each pallet can be anywhere from $35 to $55, depending on each configuration.

Safety Issues Associated with Drive In Racking

For us, safety is the most important consideration when we design any type of racking system. However, for drive in racks, the matter requires additional, special attention.

Because the forklift driver must always enter the racking system in order to load or unload goods, it can be a terrible disaster if the racking collapses while he or she is still inside. For this reason, safety components such as the post protector (to prevent forklift damage from hitting the racking posts) and the floor guide rail would are necessary to guide the driver when they are operating inside the rack system.

Drive In Racks from Kingmorack

Like most other warehouse storage solutions, drive in racking is suitable for specific purposes. If you’re not yet sure whether this type of system is optimal for your storage space, contact Kingmorack today to discuss the details of your project.

At Kingmorack, we have accumulated a vast experience with all types of storage systems, built and delivered to customers around the world. We are uniquely equipped to help you find the best solution for your warehouse and to implement it.

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For more information, quotes, sample and orders, contact Kingmorack today.