Push Back Racks: Should You Use Them?

Are you designing a warehouse, and trying to figure out how to get more storage for the space you have?

If you have a need for more storage than a standard rack system can get you, push back racks can provide double or even triple the storage.

In this article we’ll tell you all about push back racks and help you decide whether they’re right for you.

What Is a Push Back Rack?

In the landscape of warehousing solutions, push back racks have emerged as a versatile and efficient storage system.

These racks offer a unique design that maximizes space utilization, making them an attractive option for various industries.

But before deciding whether push back racks are right for your project, let’s delve into how they function in a warehouse setting.

How Does a Push Back Rack Work?

A push back rack operates on a Last In, First Out (LIFO) storage system.

This means that the last pallet loaded onto the rack is the first to be retrieved. The racks consist of a series of carts on inclined rails.

When a new pallet is loaded, it pushes the existing pallets back, creating a dynamic and space-efficient storage solution. This design ensures easy access to multiple SKUs while maintaining a high storage density.

Push Back Rack Advantages

Understanding the advantages of push back racks is crucial in determining their suitability for your project.

Here are the key benefits:

  1. High Storage Density: Push back racks maximize storage space by utilizing both depth and height, accommodating more pallets than traditional systems.
  2. Increased Selectivity: Despite their high density, push back racks offer better selectivity compared to drive-in racks. This means easier access to a variety of SKUs.
  3. Time and Labor Savings: The Last In, First Out system simplifies inventory management and order picking, reducing the time and labor required for these tasks.
  4. Versatility: Push back racks are adaptable to various pallet sizes and weights, providing flexibility for different products.
  5. Reduced Forklift Damage: As pallets are loaded and retrieved from the same aisle, there is less risk of forklift damage to the racks.

Push Back Rack Disadvantages

While push back racks offer numerous advantages, it’s essential to consider potential drawbacks:

  1. Cost: Initial investment in push back racks can be higher than traditional systems, requiring careful cost-benefit analysis.
  2. Limited Accessibility: Despite increased selectivity, access to individual pallets may be slower compared to selective racks.
  3. Complex Installation: Installation of push back racks can be more intricate than other systems, potentially leading to longer setup times.

When to Use a Push Back Rack

Determining when to use push back racks depends on your specific needs. Consider these scenarios:

  1. High Turnover Products: Ideal for businesses with fast-moving inventory due to the Last In, First Out system.
  2. Limited Aisle Space: When maximizing space is critical, push back racks provide an excellent solution.
  3. Varied Product Sizes: Suitable for warehouses dealing with diverse pallet sizes and SKUs.

Real-world examples include food and beverage distributors, retail distribution centers, and manufacturing facilities with fluctuating production demands.

Push Back Racks vs Other Racks

To make an informed decision, it’s essential to compare push back racks with other pallet rack systems. Here’s a brief overview:

  1. Selective Racks: Provide easy access to each pallet but with lower storage density than pusback.
  2. Drive-In Racks: Offer high-density storage than push back but with limited selectivity.
  3. Pallet Flow Racks: Enable First-In First-Out storage with continuous flow, suitable for higher volume operations than push back.

Push Back Racks from Structural Engineers’ Perspective

Push back racks are designed differently than the typical selective rack, from a structural standpoint. There are a few differences we consider:

  1. There are fewer rack materials supporting more weight. Typically, the rails span between frames, allowing for an extra pallet position. For example, a 3-pallet deep system typically consists of 2 frames deep. This means that the frames are supporting more weight than the typical selective rack which is 1-pallet deep using 1 frame.
  2. The weight of the rails and the carts. This dead load is considerably higher than what exists in selective rack. This extra load needs to be accounted for when designing the rack.
  3. When the depth of the push back system is an even number of pallets, monoposts are often used to support the rear side. A monopost is just a standalone post with very little support in the cross-aisle direction compared to the posts in frames, which are supported by the braces. This large, unbraced length is usually broken up by adding ties to the adjacent frames at a specified spacing.
  4. The attachment of the rails to the beams, or lack there-of, affects the beam design. Sometimes rails are fastened to the top flange of the beams with a screw or bolt, which provides stability to the beam and affects the beam design. If the rails are merely sitting on the beams, without any attachment, then the beam is considered fully unbraced and it is more likely to buckle than if the rails were fastened.

Push Back FAQs

Q: Can push back racks handle different pallet sizes?

A: Yes, push back racks are designed to accommodate various pallet sizes, offering flexibility in storage.

Q: How does push back rack installation compare to other rack systems?

A: Push back rack installation can be more complex, potentially requiring more time and expertise.

Q: Are push back racks suitable for temperature-controlled environments?

A: Yes, push back racks are versatile and can be adapted for use in temperature-controlled warehouses.

In conclusion, whether push back racks are the right choice for your project depends on factors such as product turnover, space constraints, and budget considerations. By carefully weighing the advantages and disadvantages you can make an informed decision to optimize your warehouse storage system.

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