Drive-in pallet racking is an effective solution to create high-density storage. The forklift operator drives directly into the rack, lifting the pallet above the rails to drop the load. This allows you to decrease the floor space given to aisles and make room for more pallet positions. Overall, it has tremendous cubic foot utilization at an affordable “price per pallet position.”
Due to its design and close proximity to a moving forklift, drive-in pallet racking is vulnerable to damage. Giving focus to (3) aspects may decrease impacts:
Use the right forklift
Do not assume a forklift in your current fleet can operate in the drive-in pallet racking. The forklift’s most challenging feature is the overheard guard (OHG), which is likely too wide to fit easily in and out of the racking. Using a smaller forklift, such as a 3000 lb 3-wheeler, may be an option but only when transporting smaller capacity items. To prevent the OHG from hitting the sides of the racking, partner with the forklift manufacturer and local dealer to customize the structure and bring in its sides.
Pallets used for drive-in pallet racking must be a consistent size and made of quality materials. Consistent sizing is important because the racking dimensions are precise. Quality materials protect pallets from damage so they remain intact. These two factors ensure loads will easily glide into place after being placed on the rails without additional prodding by the forklift operator.
Forklift operator training
All forklift operators must be trained per OSHA guidelines, but additional training should be offered to operators loading and unloading product in the drive-in pallet racking. Visibility inside the racking is restricted; therefore, slower, precise driving is needed to prevent impact between the forklift and racking.
Regular inspections of drive-in pallet racking is vital to identify damage. Every hit to the racking compromises the steel’s structure and storage capacity. Damaged racking should be replaced to keep employees safe, especially the forklift operator who is physically inside the structure. Column protectors may also be considered as a preventative measure.