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Drive-in vs Drive-through Racking

Drive-in and drive-through pallet racking are both compact storage systems to optimise the space available in warehouses and distribution centres.

Both systems share similar elements and features but differ considerably in their operation and applications. 

At Advanced Handling & Storage, we are the pallet racking people and we are committed to informing you of everything you need to know about storage systems for your warehouse. Let’s take a look at similarities of drive-in and drive-through pallet racking.

Advantages of these compact systems

Both drive-in and drive-through pallet racking come under the category of compact storage systems. Due to their characteristics, these systems are a storage solution that manage to compact space more effectively compared to conventional storage options.

Optimisation of available space

The main advantage of a compact storage system is the ability to exploit the available warehouse space to full potential. Depending on the storage system you choose, optimisation will be higher or lower.

Order in warehouse management

Compact racking systems provide a precise order of each reference as an obligation.

More control of product preferences

Compact systems are ideal for storing several units loads of the same product preference.

Common features between the systems

It is important to highlight that both pallet racking systems have the same base structure. They are both high density storage systems designed to achieve maximum optimisation of floor space and height of your warehouse or distribution centre.

The structure for drive-in and drive-through pallet racking minimises the work aisles of the forklift and instead are generated inside the racking itself. This is where the forklifts will enter for loading and unloading.

The pallets will take placement in the racking at a higher level than the level where they will actually be deposited. They are then placed on the support rails on each side of the level. 

Both drive-in and drive-through pallet racking systems facilitate efficient control of inventory in the warehouse because each lane of the structure is dedicated exclusively to the same product reference.

Differences between the pallet racking systems

The main difference between drive-in and drive-through systems is the warehouse method for which they have been designed. 

Drive-in racking works according to the ‘last in, first out’ (LIFO) method and a drive-through system works with the ‘first in, first out’ (FIFO) method. Because of this, drive-through racking makes for perfect stock rotation while drive-in will have a low rotation of goods.

However, drive-in pallet racking is the most common type due to its simplicity. The structure of this system has only one access aisle for forklift machines to load and unload pallets. 

Therefore, operating with the LIFO method will mean that the last pallet deposited on the racking will be the first one to be unloaded from the aisle, which results in low rotation. 

In contrast, with drive-through pallet racking there is access to the work aisle from two ends, one to access loading and one to access unloading. This makes for the FIFO management method, which gives the system fantastic stock rotation. 

The systems also differ in size needed for installation. A drive-in system can be installed on a smaller surface than what is required for a drive-through system because as loading and unloading occurs at the same entry point, it is only necessary to to leave on end accessible.