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Drive-in/Drive Thru Racking Solutions

Industrial space is at a premium right now, and companies are looking for creative ways to meet their needs to maximize space, while limiting costs. Many are turning to warehouse racking systems: a product storage system that uses pallets stacked in horizontal rows on multiple tiers or levels. Lift trucks add and remove items as needed.

Whether you’re assembling your first warehouse or looking to make improvements, the experts at ISS Material Handling can help you find the drive-in racking system that works best for your business.

Contact us and a member of our team of experts will find a custom solution to fit your specific needs.

Drive-in/Drive-Thru Racking Solutions – What’s the Difference and How Do They Work?

Drive-in and drive-thru racking are two of the most popular racking systems because they offer maximum storage density and optimize available storage space. By creating a tunnel for drivers and allowing pallets to be stored multiple positions deep, drive-in and drive-thru storage maximizes warehouse storage space and creates fewer aisles. This efficiency allows businesses to utilize valuable floor space for other purposes. But what’s the difference between the two, and which one will best meet your needs?

Drive-in racking only has one accessible aisle to enter and exit; thus, it is typically pushed up against a building wall. Items are packed tight and loaded back to front. These types of racks are generally ideal for warehouses with limited space, where every inch needs to be optimized. It is also best for products that are stored in larger quantities with a long shelf life since products are basically stored from back to front meaning the last product in is the first product out (LIFO). Due to its high density of storage, this type of racking system is well-suited for cold storage, among other things.

Drive-thru racking has two accessible aisles and needs to be in an open area. It typically requires more space than a drive-in racking system. Drive-thru racking allows you to drive through the space – as the name indicates – and load or unload from both sides of the racking, depending on its design. It is typically beneficial as a first-in-first-out (FIFO) storage system and is quite useful for products with a shorter shelf life and a higher turnover rate. 


Key Features, Advantages and Considerations of Drive-in vs Drive-thru Racking

If you are looking to increase your warehouse storage space without increasing your warehouse size, drive-in and/or drive-thru racking may be the answer for your storage needs. Both have advantages and key factors to consider before making a choice: 


Drive-in RackingDrive-thru Racking
Provides a high-density storage solutionProvides high-density storage solution
Maximizes limited warehouse spaceMaximizes limited warehouse space
Utilizes one aisle for accessUses two accessible aisles for in/out coordination
Needs less space than drive-thru rackingNeeds to be in an open area
Facilitates storage for products in larger quantities with a long shelf life – last product in is first product outFacilitates product rotation – first in is first out  
Benefits products stored in larger quantities with a long shelf life (last product in is first product out)Works for products that have a short shelf life with high turnover
Loading and unloading must be done from the same aisleLoading and unloading can be done from both ends, based on design
Allows for customizationAllows for customization
Requires forklift accessibilityRequires forklift accessibility
Enhances workplace safetyEnhances workplace safety
Drive-in ApplicationsDrive-thru Applications
Manufactured goodsWarehouse
Cold or frozen itemsManufacturing
Foods with a longer shelf lifeFood storage
BeveragesCold and/or frozen storage 
Grocery items

Key Factors to Consider as You Consider Pallet Racking

In today’s world, warehouse storage space equals both money and time. Choosing the right system involves considering a variety of factors to ensure your operation runs both efficiently and effectively.

First, you need to understand your operation’s storage needs. 

  • What different products and sizes are you storing?
  • What volume of each product are you storing?
  • What’s the shelf life of each product?
  • Are there special storage considerations for the products, such as temperature or humidity control? 
  • How frequently do you need to access each product?
  • If you currently use pallets, how many pallets do you store?
  • What types of pallets do you use?
  • What are a typical pallet’s dimensions?
  • How much does a typical pallet weigh?
  • How much storage space do you have?
  • Are there any building or storage space constraints?

If you need help with any of this, remember the ISS Material Handling professionals can help you identify your needs and work through the logistics

Once you have that information at your fingertips, it’s time to proceed to thinking about pallet racking types. Whether you’re assembling your first warehouse or looking to transform your current space, the experts at ISS Material Handling can help you find the racking system that works best for your business.

There are numerous variables to consider. Everything from mixing pallet weights and load dimensions to state and local regulations need to be considered. Racking systems not only have to comply with local building codes and fire regulations, but also seismic design categories. At ISS, we will work with you to understand the environmental factors under which you operate along with which local codes apply to your situation. 

Additionally, you may have specific insurance requirements which govern how your racking system is installed. We will work with you to ensure that the product(s) and installation comply with all those requirements. We will also keep top of mind your existing lift truck and other equipment compatibility to preserve the integrity of your operations and avoid unexpected changes, delays and costs.

Moreover, we’ll help you plan for the future. You should always plan for growth and anticipate changes. You may offer new products, expand your space or add automation. You will want to build your system to meet your current needs with the option of adding on or modifying as needed to meet your long-term business goals. 



At ISS Material Handling, we take pride in helping our clients find the best solutions. We stay on top of emerging technology in material handling, and we have access to many high-quality manufacturers with top-of-the-line products. This ensures you have access to a wide selection of products and the most current solutions in the market.

We have professional material handling equipment assembly and installation crews ready and available to get your  racking system up and running. We can work with you and your company, no matter your location and project size. 

Call us at 833-754-2164, and a member of our team of experts will help you find a solution to fit your specific needs. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How quickly will you respond to my online request for a free consultation?

We strive to respond to all requests within 24 hours or sooner.


What manufacturers’ materials do you offer?

We offer high-quality products from top manufacturers, including Steel King, Interlake Mecalux and Speedrack.


What information should I have available to discuss my options for a racking system with ISS Material Handling?

You should have the following information:

  • Pallet dimensions
  • Maximum pallet weight
  • Maximum pallet load height
  • Warehouse clearance height
  • Estimated warehouse storage space
  • Square footage


If I already have a racking system, can I modify it or add to it?

Yes, but from a liability and engineering standpoint, it is not recommended to mix different manufacturers’ components.

Contact ISS Material Handling for a Free Consultation 

Do you think a drive-in racking system could benefit your operations? Contact us and we can merge our experience and expertise to come up with a solution together. Tell us about your potential project and submit the form below or give us a call at 833-754-2164.