BlogPallet PoolingEfficient pallet storage methods in the warehouse can lower business costs.

Using efficient pallet storage methods in the warehouse doesn’t just save space on the floor, though that is a major concern for most facilities. An optimized storage layout can also cut back on energy costs, streamline labor efforts, ensure workers’ safety, and reduce an operation’s Total Cost of Business (TCOB). There are many methods of warehouse space management to consider, and supply chain managers should familiarize themselves with the top options in order to make the best possible choice. 

Common Pallet Storage Methods in the Warehouse

High-density pallet racking can improve pallet storage efficiency.Pallet storage methods in the warehouse and distribution center will differ based on the industry and whether a first-in, first-out (FIFO) or last-in, first-out (LIFO) structure is needed. FIFO methods are typically best for time-sensitive storage of perishable products, while LIFO methods are better for high-density storage situations. The following chart summarizes some of the pros and cons of seven common pallet storage methods in the warehouse.

Double-deep pallet racking is a particularly good configuration for high-density warehouses.

Type Description/Use Pros Cons
Block stacking Block stacking is a very basic form of pallet storage in which loaded pallets are stacked on top of each other and organized into lanes. This method is typically best when there are minimal pallets to store and little time to manage them.
  • Low startup cost
  • Requires no specialized equipment
  • Relatively easy to manage
  • Limited vertical space utilization
  • Requires large areas for lifting and moving pallets
  • Stacks can be dangerously unstable if pallets are not in good condition
  • Pallets must be accessed in a LIFO manner
Stack racks Decks and posts create racks for holding pallets. Stacking frames can hold overflow pallets during busy periods. Stack racks work well for warehouses with high ceilings.  
  • Ideal for pallets of products that cannot be directly stacked on top of each other
  • Allows for greater vertical space usage
  • Stacks can be moved as a single unit
  • Pallet access is limited
  • Honeycombing– in which available space isn’t efficiently used– can occur 
  • Has a higher upfront cost due to necessary racking components
Single deep pallet racking This is an extremely common form of pallet storage that allows managers to access all the pallets in a rack, as the pallets each have their own individual space. This method is a particularly popular option in distribution centers.
  • Can easily be reconfigured to maximize warehouse space
  • All pallets are accessible
  • Forklift operators can reach pallets from multiple sides 
  • Single deep configuration limits space savings
  • Significant floor space is needed for aisles
  • Leaning and crushing risks occur if not properly implemented
Double deep pallet racking Double deep racking expands on a single deep configuration with back-to-back pallet rows. These are particularly good configurations for high-density warehouses.
  • Improved cubic space utilization
  • Fewer aisles are needed 
  • Can be easily reconfigured to increase storage space
  • Some pallets may not be accessible
  • Lower throughput rates due to limited pallet access
Gravity flow pallet rack This high-density storage system is ideal for distribution centers where automation is favored. It stores pallets multiple layers deep, improving cube utilization.
  • Less labor needed as pallets flow from back to front on rollers
  • Minimal aisle frontage required due to high-density setup
  • Excellent for drug and food supply chains where maintaining a FIFO system is vital
  • Minimal access to pallets
  • Specialized equipment, like rollers and racks, is necessary
  • Initial implementation can be expensive
Drive-in rack In this system, forklifts drive directly into the racking setup to retrieve pallets. This method is ideal for high-density situations where products stored are identical. 
  • Extremely dense and makes use of all available space
  • The proximity of pallets makes it ideal for temperature-controlled products
  • Strong, durable shelf structure
  • Requires specialized equipment and trained personnel
  • Only supports LIFO storage due to its dense configuration 
  • Not ideal for time-sensitive products like pharmaceuticals
Push back rack Push back racks combine high-density storage with selection abilities by providing a static rack structure with carts that move along rails. 
  • Dense storage capabilities
  • Pallet selection is simplified
  • Works with a single-aisle design 
  • LIFO system makes this less ideal for time-sensitive products 
  • Storage is limited to four or five pallets deep
  • Can be expensive to implement 

The above storage methods are primarily designed for handling loaded pallets, but most facilities will also need to consider storage for empty pallets. Extra pallets may be needed for peak times of the year but otherwise sit unused, taking up space year-round. Fortunately, there are plenty of methods for storing idle pallets. One approach is to reduce the number of platforms your facility must store in the first place by switching to a pallet pooling model.

Leveraging Pallet Pooling as a Space Saver

Pooled plastic pallets make storage easier.Pallet pooling helps supply chain managers reduce the space taken up by empty pallets by introducing scalability. Because pallet pooling is a leasing system in which pallets are rented rather than owned, managers can increase or decrease supply as needed and ensure they have the platforms they need for periods of high demand. Storing fewer empty pallets allows managers to reclaim warehouse space and use it to hold inventory, rather than idle equipment.

Plastic pallets are less likely to fail and cause a blockage within a high-density storage system.

Pooled pallets are often wood, but plastic platforms offer a slew of advantages that make whatever loaded pallet storage method you choose safer and more effective. Plastic pallets move along rails and roller racks more easily than wood ones and are less likely to lose nails and splinters that might jam roller mechanisms. Plastic pallets are also simply less likely to fail and cause a blockage within a high-density storage system, which might require a time-consuming manual intervention. Finally, plastic pallets are lightweight (but just as strong as wood) and easy for employees and equipment to handle, reducing employee injuries and machinery wear and tear. All of these benefits combine to increase throughput and efficiency while reducing product damage.

Whether you use gravity flow racking or block stacking, plastic pallet pooling can increase the efficiency of the pallet storage methods in your warehouse and reduce the number of idle pallets your facility must store at any given time. As a result, managers can reduce their total cost of business while making the most of their warehouse real estate. 

iGPS plastic pallet rental can optimize pallet storage methods in your warehouse and allow you to scale pallet supply as needed. For more details, contact us at 1-800-884-0225, email a specialist at [email protected], or visit our contact page.