Basic Knowledge How to find the ideal racking system for your warehouse - types & tips

Author / Editor: Sebastian Hofmann / Theresa Knell

What racking and shelving systems are available for logistics warehouses? What should you keep in mind when buying a system? And which variants have which features? Find out here!

Related Vendors

Finding the right shelving systems for your warehouses is not always easy. We show which types there are and what you should pay attention before you buy one!
Finding the right shelving systems for your warehouses is not always easy. We show which types there are and what you should pay attention before you buy one!
(Source: ©Alexander Limbach -

When logistics warehouses are no longer flexible enough or have reached their capacity limits, logistics facilities have to be restructured, expanded or even rebuilt. Choosing the right racking or shelving system is crucial for a company’s success. Those responsible for warehouse technology should therefore always follow these three golden rules:

  • Be Proactive! Full capacity utilization in the logistics warehouse does not occur overnight, but rather over a period of time. Companies must act at an early stage before it becomes too late. Once the capacity utilization of the logistics warehouse has been reached, orders can either not be processed at all or not on time. Customer satisfaction suffers, customers are lost and profits decline.
  • Own your racking system! Batch size 1, i.e. individualized production, is the order of the day - especially in logistics. No two warehouses are the same. Shelving systems should also be adjusted as closely as possible to the framework conditions of the respective companies. Many intralogistics manufacturers have recognized this trend and therefore offer modular or even completely customized systems. SSI Schäfer, Karl H. Bartels and Jelly are just a few examples.
  • Ensure safety! When building shelving systems, a wide range of safety regulations must be observed. One basis for this is the Product Safety Act (ProdSG). (Especially for power-operated racks, the so-called machine regulation must also be observed.) In this information brochure the German statutory accident insurance has summarized the most important points, including DIN EN 15 635 and the individual test scopes.

Decision-makers in logistics must be aware of approaching capacity utilization at an early stage and plan extensions or optimizations in the warehouse. Otherwise there is a risk of economic losses.
Decision-makers in logistics must be aware of approaching capacity utilization at an early stage and plan extensions or optimizations in the warehouse. Otherwise there is a risk of economic losses.
(Source: ©urbans78 -

The classic among racking systems: the pallet rack

Pallet racks for single or multi-deep storage in pallet warehouses are widely used. Depending on the available storage space and the weight and size of the loading units, these shelving systems allow easy access to the stored goods. Shelf loads of several tons can be handled. The static solution is characterized by a high degree of flexibility regarding the applications. Pallet racks are suitable for Euro and industrial pallets as well as for pallet cages, containers and cartons.

Example of a provider: Jungheinrich

One version of this shelving system model can be found in Jungheinrich's product portfolio: the static multiple-space shelving system with wide aisle. It allows direct access to the goods, enables chaotic storage locations and supports the FIFO principle. It is available for both automatic and manual shelf operation. In the standard version, the shelving system can be eight to ten meters high. With automatic operation, it can even be extended up to 40 meters. Jungheinrich's static multi-space shelving system is currently in use at the Opel goods distribution center in Bochum Langendreer, for example:

The most important shelving and racking systems at a glance

There is an almost unmanageable range of different shelving systems. We have compiled the most important ones for you - including some examples of providers from the respective sector:

Drive-in and drive-through racks: Drive-in and drive-through racks based on a column construction with cross beams require moderate investments. This type of flexible compact storage system is a conceivable alternative if space is limited and it needs to be used in the best possible way from an economic perspective. Drive-in and drive-through racks support the LIFO principle (last-in, first-out) are interesting for stocking large quantities of homogeneous articles that do not rotate quickly.

Gallery with 8 images

Shelf racks: The shelving rack is predestined for non-palletized goods and suitable for manual (small parts) order picking tasks in the booming e-commerce business. The shelving systems are available in both screw and plug-in versions. The dimensioning of the shelves follows the stored goods, shelf heights and partition walls are freely selectable. Shelf racks are associated with manageable investment costs, enable short distances and can be flexibly extended.

If required, it is also possible to build upwards. The shelving systems support the picking process that is connected on several levels by stairs. Users can use the free space underneath the construction flexibly for other productive work. With the aid of this functionally reliable storage system, high throughput rates can be achieved. Nevertheless, the need for personnel should not be underestimated when order peaks have to be handled. Pallet and flow racks are also suitable as carrier systems for shelf platforms.

Example of a provider: Meta-Regalbau

Meta-Regalbau, the Arnsberg-based intralogistics provider, is also offering this type of shelf racking systems. According to the company, the Meta Clip can be set up easily and without tools, using plug-in connections. This results in individual rows of shelves up to two-, three- or four-story shelving systems. The material the shelving system is made of is sendzimir galvanized and therefore resistant to alkalis and oil.

Cantilever racks: The cantilever racking is a racking system for direct access that is tailored to special product characteristics. It is used to pick up bulky goods or long goods such as rods and tubes in varying dimensions. Compared to the classic pallet rack, this solution does not require front vertical struts. Further design features of this racking system are vertically arranged center supports with upright feet and lateral outriggers on which the stored goods are transferred. Wide span racks and honeycomb racks are also suitable for bulky, voluminous and heavy goods.

Example of a provider: Karl H. Bartels

Karl H. Bartels also offers such a cantilever racking system: the roll-out shelf. It is specially tailored to the requirements of the customer and is suitable for the storage of long and bulky goods. Goods are transferred exclusively via an indoor crane. For this purpose, users can pull out the compartments completely. This eliminates the need for wide aisles for forklifts.

Karl H. Bartels' roll-out shelving allows customers to make better use of existing logistics space.
Karl H. Bartels' roll-out shelving allows customers to make better use of existing logistics space.
(Source: Karl H. Bartels)

Flow racks: In the field of dynamic storage, manufacturers offer flow racks operated according to the Fifo method. It is characterized by a compact, block-shaped rack construction, which allows good space utilization. The goods automatically move up. That saves time. Curved tracks at an individually definable angle facilitate access to the containers. The picking process at the shelving system is further supported by a strict separation of the storage and retrieval sides. The flow rack ensures high throughput rates.

Mobile racks: The mobile rack is continuously in motion. This is made possible by rail-guided undercarriages. With their help the rack rows are moved, allowing forklifts to drive into the aisle. The main advantage of the shelving system is its high degree of space and volume utilization, which results in a high storage capacity. The space gain should be up to 40 % compared to stationary shelving systems. At the same time, the goods within a block are protected against external influences and unauthorized access. This makes sense for high-priced products or in the field of temperature-controlled storage. Mobile racking is an option for handling large quantities that do not fall into the "fast-moving items" category. After all, opening and closing the aisles takes time. On the other hand, the shelving system eliminates the need for work processes or allows several work steps to be combined.

Example of a user: SSI Schäfer

Vertical carousels: The vertical carousel is associated with considerable purchasing costs. Carousel racks are suitable for the horizontal storage of small parts. Paternoster storages, on the other hand, work on a vertical method. Access to the containers with small parts is manual in both racking systems. According to the manufacturer, a characteristic feature of spatially closed carousels, whose operation is not very labor-intensive, is a high throughput rate with the best possible use of space. Successive extensions are also possible at any time without any problems. However, there are limitations in terms of flexibility. For example, the processing of rush orders or the buffering of fluctuating order volumes are problematic. Lift racks are a comparable solution for space-saving storage including automated provisioning.

Gallery with 8 images

The category of rack systems includes high racks and structures for the automatic storage of small parts. In the case of high-rack silos, the shelves are designed as load-bearing substructures of the roof and facade. They are used when storage space is to be optimally used vertically and a high throughput of large quantities of goods must be achieved. The latter also applies to the automatic storage of small parts. One variant with an increasing range of applications is shuttle racking, in which automated carrier vehicles move in channels. It is primarily used in high stock levels with a comparatively small variety of assortments. Both the Lifo and Fifo principles can be used.

Example of a provider: Kasto

A shelving system of this type is the Uniline from Kasto. According to the manufacturer, typical areas of application include sheet metal storage systems for order picking. It offers various system pallets for large-volume and flat goods. It can even be combined with other systems.

This article was first published byMM Logistik.

For more news visit our facebook page or twitter.

* Sabine Vogel M.A. is a specialized journalist from 44227 Dortmund, Tel. (02 31) 1 20 69 81,