Drive-In/Drive-Thru Pallet Racking
Drive-in/drive-thru pallet racking systems offer a denser solution for warehouses storing large quantities of a low variety of SKUs. As the name suggests, drive-in/drive-thru systems allow fork truck operators to enter into the depth of the system. By configuring this type of design the need for space-demanding aisles for fork truck movement is greatly decreased. The trade-off for this increased density lies in the decrease in the ability to rotate stock as the first pallet loaded into a drive-in pallet rack system will be the last pallet to be unloaded.
As with most RBI storage solution offerings, drive-in/drive-thru rack utilizes many of the same components as selective pallet rack but by changing to feature a few unique components allows pallets to be more densely loaded. Some key pieces that are added to the system include support rails and typically, vertical and horizontal bracing. The addition of these components allows drive-in rack systems to compare very competitively on a price per pallet position comparison to more simplistic storage systems. Both system types have their advantages but there are some points to be aware of when comparing these systems to more conventional, selective pallet racking.
Drive-In versus Drive-Thru Pallet Racking
The difference between drive-in and drive-thru pallet rack systems is whether the system can be entered from a single side or if both sides can be entered by fork trucks. At their core they share a very similar design structure: trusses are configured in a series, with rails that extend the depth of the system to create a wealth of storage for pallet loads. This dense configuration allows for drive-in & drive-thru racking systems to reach impressive depths – although 2 to 10 pallets deep are the most typical system sizes.
Drive-in systems gain their rigidity from an “anchor bay” – which is essentially a selective bay of racking. This anchor bay resides at the rear of the racking structure which makes it impossible for trucks to get through. Whereas the front column connections to rails use arms that protrude horizontally into the bays, the two rear column positions sport structural beams on which the rails sit. This anchor bay allows for the front column locations to do without typical beams due to the rigidity of the structure itself. In deeper rack systems, horizontal (affixed to the top of the rack structure) and vertical (affixed to the rear of the rack structure) bracing provides a method for loading to travel to the anchor bay, which is essential in ensuring loading is adequately controlled.
Drive-thru racking systems offer a bit more flexibility in loading and unloading product from the rails because there are two points of access from both sides of the system. These systems do however require a bit more engineering on RBI’s part being that there are several different ways to accomplish system structural rigidity. For example:
- By utilizing internal anchor bays, the drive-thru storage system becomes what can be described as a two-sided drive-in system. Fork trucks can still enter from either side of the system but three internal column locations will utilize beams and bracing to gain the required support.
- By utilizing bracing bays, the drive-thru rack system gives up access to some bays (reducing the possible pallet positions) but still allows for both ends to be accessed in all adjacent bays. Fork trucks will be unable to enter in some of the bays at all due to the use of beams and bracing throughout, but will still be able to use adjacent bays as true drive-thru bays.
Drive-in racking systems are more common as they can easily be positioned with their back to a wall, eliminating a need for an aisle to access on the rear side, which can save quite a bit of aisle space. There is generally less cost for drive-in systems as they do not require fully braced bays or three columns of beams/bracing. There is also less risk as the system presents a more uniform system to fork truck operators.
As fork trucks are driving into the storage system in either drive-in or drive-thru, there is a greater risk of rack/truck interaction. RBI will design features to negate some of this possible damage by providing custom products such as in-line truss rub rails, floor-mounted angles, or rack-mounted guides.
The Push-Back & Drive-In Hybrid Rack System
Drive-in racking systems can also be implemented with overhead push-back rack to allow for easier flow through the system. The floor would act like typical drive-in rack while the rail levels typically used on standard systems would be switched in place for push-back beams, rails, and carts. This allows for palletted material to be deposited as a double stack on the floor or for rapid movement while also allowing product above to be accessed via the first pallet position like one would with selective racking.