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Drive-in racks are a high-density variant of the pallet rack, the most frequently utilized warehouse racking system for palletized product storage. Whereas standard pallet racks require aisles between each racking unit to allow forklift access, drive-in and drive-thru racks eliminate this wasted space. Their designs allow the forklift operator to drive directly into the racking space itself, offering a much higher storage density.

Comparing Drive-In and Drive-Thru Racking

The architecture of the two racking systems is identical. The main difference is that drive-in racking is accessed from the front only, while drive-thru systems admit forklifts all the way through and can be accessed from both sides.

Drive-in racking requires less floor space for the same storage volume because the closed end can be placed directly against a wall. This type of storage works as a FILO, or first in/last out load system. Pallets loaded most recently — those nearest to the open end — are the first accessible pallets for retrieval.

Drive-thru racking functions in a FIFO, or first in/first out manner. Pallets are loaded on one end and then the oldest racked products are accessed first on the opposite end of the racks. Which system you choose is based on your available warehouse space and the time-sensitivity of the products you’re storing.

The Advantages of Drive-in/Drive-Thru Racking systems

  • Less warehouse space is required. The higher density of drive-in and drive-thru racking solutions means that you can store the same amount of product in a much smaller footprint. This can save you quite a bit of money over larger warehouse spaces. It also frees up existing warehouse space to be put to other uses.
  • It’s more cost effective. You get greater storage capacity per dollar spent on your warehouse shelving system because of the higher storage density. The smaller footprint also means your employees will save on retrieval time and your operation will save on fuel costs.
  • They’re flexible. Drive-in and drive-thru racks can be combined with push back racks to create a hybrid racking system that takes full advantage of available space.

The Disadvantages of Drive-in/Drive-Thru Racks

  • They favor density over accessibility. Due to their limited item access, this racking solution is best for companies that warehouse a high volume of similar items, are looking for long term storage, or store items that aren’t time sensitive. If you need ready access to all of your stored product, traditional pallet racks may be a better fit.
  • They’re more prone to forklift damage. Because forklifts maneuver directly inside the racking system, the possibility of rack damage due to forklift collisions is higher. However, cant-leg and set-back leg designs can help mitigate this problem.

Simply Racks is Your Storage Partner

We have the products and the expertise to design the perfect commercial racking system for your warehousing requirements. We stock our products for immediate availability and quick delivery and installation. Depending on where you are, local pickup is available as well. Located in the Austin, Texas area, we service the entire I-35 corridor from Oklahoma City down to San Antonio. 

We’re here to answer any questions you may have about drive-in/drive-thru racks or any other industrial shelving product we carry. Give us a call so we can discuss your needs today!

Martin W
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Customer service is #1. I have purchased racking from them on several occasions and have always been blown away by their efficiency. My orders have always been ready to load, they have me loaded and ready to go in no time at all. Rack Quality is Excellent. A+++ rating in my book.
Brad C
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We were so pleased with our new racking and shelves from Simply Rack. Tracy was AMAZING throughout the process and with Mike leading the installation crew, it was completed to our specs exactly. We would highly recommend Simply Rack. The price was right, the service was outstanding and the overall experience was excellent. FIVE STARS!
Nick K
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I love working with them. We have used them for our racking needs for years. As our business grows they continue to offer great service, are detailed oriented, and always have what we need. Little far up on the north side from where we are but worth the drive.