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Standard Selective Racking: Why It's a Classic

Selective pallet racking is the most popular form of pallet storage. When people in manufacturing and distribution think about warehouse storage, selective racking is often the first image that comes to mind.

The reason for this product’s widespread appeal is its ease of use. Every pallet on the rack is easy to see and easy to access with a forklift.

Selective racks are also comforting in their familiarity. Of all the industrial storage systems out there, these most resemble the shelving units you use in your daily life, from your kitchen pantry to your grocery store aisles.

What is a selective pallet rack? 

Selective racking consists of vertical uprights and horizontal cross beams spaced to accommodate pallets. The beams are covered with decking on which stored pallets rest.

Warehouse workers can easily access every pallet on the rack without moving other pallets out of the way. This ability to “select” the precise pallet you need is how selective racking gets its name.

Standard selective racks support First In/First Out (FIFO) inventory management. Facilities using Last In/First Out (LIFO) inventory management can place two racks back-to-back to create double-deep storage. However, this configuration does require using a forklift to move the front pallet out of the way before the rear pallet can be accessed.

Advantages of selective pallet racking

There are several reasons selective racking is the most popular choice for pallet storage.

  • Unmatched selectivity – every pallet can be directly accessed
  • Every pallet has a facing
  • Provides for continuous circulation of high-turnover SKUs
  • Forgiving of multiple pallet sizes stored in the same rack
  • Lowest cost-per-pallet-position when compared with other storage options

The best use cases for selective pallet racking include:

  • Warehouses with high SKU counts
  • Facilities with pallet in/pallet out or pallet in/case out inventory flow
  • Facilities using FIFO to manage high-turnover SKUs
  • Warehouses with ample floor space, as the racks require wide lanes to maneuver forklifts
  • Facilities with frequent inventory variations and adjustments, such as big-box distributors who regularly relocate stock or adjust shelving heights

Selective pallet racks are the most common industrial storage solution in American factories and distribution centers, but they’re not perfect for every application. There are some considerations to keep in mind when choosing the ideal pallet racks for your facility.

Image of cantilever racking
Cantilever Racking

Selective pallet racking vs. Other racking options

Do your homework before investing in an industrial storage system. Here are some considerations to help you choose the right system for you.

How many SKUs will you store?

Selective racking provides low-density storage. It’s well suited to storing low volumes of a wide range of SKUs.

The greater the volume of any one SKU, the less important it is to have direct access to every pallet. That access is selective racking’s greatest strength.

If you’re storing a few SKUs at high volume, consider a high-density storage option like drive-in or drive-thru racking instead.

How much floor space do you have?

Selective racking has the biggest footprint of any industrial storage system. It’s a lot of space to dedicate to low-density storage.

The reason is that pallets are moved on and off the racks by forklift, requiring two wide aisles for each rack. If floor space is a premium in your facility, consider a space-efficient option like mobile racking.

How is your budget calculated?

When comparing costs of storage systems, be sure you’re making apples-to-apples comparisons.

Selective racking typically has the lowest cost per pallet stored. However, its need for wide aisles means there may be room for fewer pallets in the facility as a whole, which could drive up your cost per square foot.

How is your inventory packaged?

The most common selective pallet racking is sized for standard American pallets – 48 inches deep by 40 inches wide. These pallets rest on 42-inch deep uprights and 8-inch or 12-inch cross beams.

You can custom order racks to fit nonstandard pallets. The flexibility of this system even allows standard and nonstandard pallets to be mixed on the same rack.

If, however, your inventory is not palletized – like rolls, pipe, and other bulky materials – cantilever racking may better fit your needs.

How much vertical space do you need?

You can only go so high with selective racking before its structure makes it unstable or the bays are too high for a forklift to reach.

If you want to maximize the vertical space in your facility, explore deep systems like push-back racking instead.

What are the components of selective racking?

Selective racking comes in virtually any size and load capacity a business might require. The racks come in either roll formed or structural steel.

Most selective racking is the roll form type. This low-cost option is made of cold roll formed steel and is easy to assemble. Assembly require no bolts; cross beams snap into the uprights.

Structural racking supports much heavier loads than roll formed. These heavy-duty units are made of structural steel and bolted together.

Selective racking components

Each rack has three components: vertical uprights, horizontal cross beams, and decking. The uprights provide vertical support, the beams carry the pallets’ weight, and the decking creates a surface for the pallets to rest on.

Uprights can be up to 30 feet tall. Cross beams range in length from 96 inches to 144 inches. The spacing between the beams can be adjusted to accommodate different pallet heights.

Decking fits over the beams. Wire decking is the most common type, but solid steel is also available.

How to know which pallet rack system is right for you

Selective pallet racking is a popular, flexible, low-cost industrial storage option – as long as it fits your needs.

Before investing in this or any storage solution, we recommend talking to a material handling expert. These consultants will assess your unique facility, inventory, and workflow, and recommend the most appropriate long-term solution for you.

Contact ISS Material Handling for a Free Consultation 

Do you think a standard selective 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.