Narrow Aisle Pallet Racking

Narrow Aisle Pallet Racking

Narrow aisle pallet racking is the most space-efficient form of selective storage you can implement in a warehouse. It offers the benefit of unrestricted access to each deposited pallet while reducing the amount of space wasted on aisles.

By switching to a narrow aisle rack system, you can save up to 45% more space than with conventional racks, but this is not necessarily feasible for all applications. In addition, narrow aisle racking requires the use of a specialized narrow aisle forklift (also called a turret truck), the cost of which must be added to the initial investment.

Below, we detail the characteristics, advantages, and optimal uses for this type of storage rack system to help you determine whether it is suitable for your warehouse space.

Basic Characteristics of Narrow Aisle Pallet Racking

Basic Characteristics of Narrow Aisle Pallet Racking

Narrow aisle pallet racking is a selective storage system, which means that each deposited pallet can be accessed directly by means of a turret truck. The system functions on both a FIFO and FILO (First-In-First-Out/ First-In-Last-Out) basis and is therefore suitable for inventory that must be rotated regularly. Differently put, this type of storage can support items with a limited shelf life because the goods that are first deposited are also the first to be removed. At the same time, it works for items that require FILO inventory management because the system offers 100% selective access to each pallet.

If a typical selective racking system requires anywhere from 3m to 4.5m of clear space per aisle, narrow racks can reduce this number to only 1.8m (or just under 6ft). The amount of space you can save is, as such, significant, but the trade-off is that you need specialized vehicles in order to load and unload products.

A turret truck, also known as a VNA (very narrow aisle) truck is designed with the sole purpose of operating in tight warehouse aisles. Using a turret truck, storage becomes a “man up process” in the sense that the operator is lifted with the forks to a height of up to 14m (or approximately 45ft). This ensures not only accessibility in tight spaces, but also enhanced visibility for the operator and an overall quicker order picking process.

Narrow Aisle Racking: Uses and Advantages

Narrow aisle pallet racking offers a number of considerable benefits when compared to other warehouse storage solutions. These include:

Optimal use of available space.

When you are pressed for space, investing in narrow racks can be significantly less expensive than acquiring an additional warehouse or extending an existing one. Narrow aisle racking essentially pushes racks closer together for maximal space efficiency and can go as high as 14m (or 45ft), provided that your warehouse roof allows it.

Unrestricted access to individual pallets

Narrow aisle pallet racking emulates the features of selective racking, which is to say that a turret truck operator can easily access any pallet at any given time, on a FIFO basis. Unlike selective systems, however, narrow racks make better use of available space and allow you to store an even wider variety of SKUs (stock keeping units).

Faster order picking

Especially when coupled with turret trucks, narrow aisle racking ensures that employees can carry out order picking from pallets much faster than with other storage systems. Turret trucks can be used to load and unload pallets, but also to lift operators to any bay so that they may select and remove products directly.

Overall, narrow aisle pallet racking is suitable for all warehouses that prefer a selective system with FIFO access, but are struggling with available space. Warehouses with a wide variety of products (or a low number of pallets per SKU) that prioritize high selectivity and precise retrieval of products rather than entire pallets have most to gain from this type of storage.

Narrow Aisle Racking: Drawbacks

Like with most racking systems, the advantages of narrow aisle pallet racking can quickly turn into drawbacks if implemented in an unsuitable environment. Disadvantages associated with this type of storage include:

Aisles that are too narrow can decrease efficiency

Some warehouse managers attempt to save every possible bit of space by reducing aisles to unreasonable dimensions. When turret trucks barely fit inside an aisle, operators have considerably less room for error and are therefore more prone to costly mistakes. As such, floor guide rails are a must to prevent the truck from hitting the racking system.

Single aisle access.

Because the spaces between racks are so narrow, no more than one turret truck can operate in a given aisle at a time. If your warehouse sees a lot of fast-paced activity that requires the concomitant use of several forklifts per aisle, then it’s likely you will lose in efficiency what you gain in additional space when you introduce narrow racks.

Relatively high initial costs.

Narrow aisle racking is not necessarily more expensive than selective racking, for instance, but it does come with the added cost of specialized access vehicles such as turret trucks.

Narrow Aisle Pallet Racking from Kingmorack

At Kingmorack, we boast years of experience with all types of warehouse storage systems. As such, we are best equipped to assist you as you design and plan the optimal narrow aisle racking solution for your space.

To discuss the specifics of your project and whether narrow racking is the best option for your storage needs, contact Kingmorack today.

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