Proper Load & Unload Techniques for Drive-In Pallet Rack
We’ve installed our share of drive-in pallet rack for busy distribution centers handling large volumes of inventory with limited SKUs. It’s a great dense storage solution maximizing both warehouse space and pallet storage. Unlike standard selective pallet rack, however, drive-in rack requires the forklift to physically be driven into the rack to place and select pallets. A well-trained, skilled driver is required for that task, and Apex is here to help ensure your drivers meet that requirement.
Our training video provides a solid overview and important steps for training your forklift drivers to load and unload drive-in pallet rack. A few of the key points that the video identifies for training success are the following:
Before your driver gets into the fork truck… confirm these four steps. These steps are important warehouse safety measures for all your pallet rack systems:
Important Steps Before Loading the System:
- Ensure all operators are OSHA trained
- Always use standardized, quality pallets
- Check for broken or splintered pallet runners – don’t place damaged pallets in the lane
- Check that the load weight is under the rated system capacity
Drive-in pallet rack is designed so that pallets are placed on heavy-duty rails that run the full-depth of the system. As shown in the video above, the pallets must be placed squarely on the rails to ensure safe storage and retrieval. The following steps outline the proper loading procedures:
Drive-In Pallet Loading Procedures:
- Square the forklift with the opening of the drive-in lane
- Lift the pallet 3” to 4” above the rails (raising the pallet too high could strike the load above)
- Slowly drive to the last open pallet position and carefully lower the pallet onto the rails
- Slowly back out of the system
- Repeat the process to fill all remaining pallet locations
Should the pallet be misaligned (not centered squarely on the rails), the driver MUST re-enter the rack and re-secure the pallet onto the forklift.
Once the driver has the pallet secured on the forklift it can then be centered within the lane and lowered back onto the rails.
It is NEVER acceptable to attempt to push or pull the pallet along the rails hoping that it will “fall into place.” Unfortunately, that is a common and dangerous pallet loading error. This action puts stress on the system and could cause the pallet to shift and fall through the rails resulting in product and component damage… or even worse, worker injury.
To unload the system, the drive basically reverses the steps followed in loading the drive-in rack.
Drive-In Unloading Procedures:
- Enter the drive-in lane with the forklift outriggers elevated to the height of the pallet to be removed
- Secure the pallet with the forks and raise it approximately 3” to 4” above the rail
- Slowly back out of the lane
Note, the driver must give careful consideration to the turning radius of the forklift once in the aisle to prevent rack impact and damage. Optional cant leg frame design provides additional clearance for easier forklift manueverability around the drive-in system.
If you have any questions regarding drive-in pallet rack systems design, operation or maintenance, call the Apex team. Our pallet rack experts are available to answer your questions or even evaluate the safety of your system and operations.