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What are the most popular types of warehouse racking in the USA?

Maximizing Warehouse Efficiency: An Overview of Pallet Racking Systems in the USA

Warehouse efficiency is pivotal in the fast-paced industrial sector, and pallet racking systems are at the heart of this productivity. Among the various types, teardrop racking stands out for its versatility and ease of use. This article explores the most common pallet racking systems in the USA, with a special focus on teardrop racking, to aid Lean Warehouse practitioners in optimizing their storage solutions.

Understanding Teardrop Pallet Racking

Teardrop pallet racking is distinguished by its 'teardrop' shaped holes on the uprights, which are universal among manufacturers. This means that beams from different brands can often be used interchangeably. Teardrop racking is renowned for its ease of assembly and adjustability, making it a preferred choice for warehouses that require flexibility in their storage configurations.

Key Considerations for Pallet Racking Selection

When selecting a pallet racking system, factors such as load capacity, warehouse space, and inventory accessibility must be considered. Ensuring safety and compliance with OSHA standards is also paramount. Warehouse IQ offers solutions like Rack Armour column protectors and Rack Sack trash receptacles to enhance safety and maintain a lean warehouse environment.

Maximizing Space and Efficiency with Teardrop Racking

Teardrop racking can be optimized with accessories such as wire mesh decks for added safety and rack protectors to prevent damage. By integrating these elements, warehouses can achieve greater efficiency and safety, aligning with lean principles.

Various Racking Profiles and their Manufacturers

Racking profiles, or the interlocking mechanisms used in various types of storage and shelving systems, are crucial for ensuring stability and safety. These profiles can differ based on the application—such as pallet racking, shelving, or cantilever systems—and the specific requirements of the storage facility. Below we explore some of the common racking profiles along with the manufacturers that are known for producing them:

Teardrop Racking

Description: Teardrop racking features holes on the uprights shaped like an upside-down teardrop. Beams have connectors that lock into these holes, providing a secure and adjustable fit. 

Manufacturers: Ridg-U-Rak, Steel King, Interlake Mecalux, Hannibal (NuCore).

Common Uses: General warehousing, retail, and distribution centers.

Double Slotted Racking (also known as Angle Slotted)

Description: This profile uses two slots forming a sort of elongated S-shape that accommodates special pin connectors on the beams.

Manufacturers: Penco, Hallowell.

Common Uses: Used in environments that require sturdy shelving solutions, like heavy-duty storage.

Keyhole Racking

Description: Featuring a keyhole-shaped punch on the uprights, this design allows beams to be hooked and locked directly into the uprights without additional hardware. 

Manufacturers: Dexion, Schaefer - Not common in the USA

New Style Racking

Description: Similar to teardrop but with a slightly different hole pattern that can be proprietary to specific manufacturers. These systems are also known for their ease of assembly and adjustability. 

Manufacturers: Interlake - no longer being manufactured

Structural Racking

Description: Rather than using roll-formed steel, structural racks are made from hot-rolled steel. These racks are bolted together, making them much sturdier and capable of withstanding higher loads. 

Manufacturers: Frazier, Steel King, Hannibal Industries (NuCore)

Common Uses: Cold storage, warehouses with heavy products, and high-throughput areas.

Push-Back Racking

Description: Utilizes a series of nesting carts that move along rails. These systems are designed to increase storage density and improve selectivity in LIFO (last in, first out) inventory situations. 

Manufacturers: Interlake Mecalux, Ridg-U-Rak.

Common Uses: Storage of multiple pallets of the same item to improve selectivity and decrease retrieval time.

Drive-In/Drive-Thru Racking

Description: Allows forklifts to drive directly into the lane of stacked rows (called a bay). The difference between drive-in and drive-thru racking lies in the ability to access the pallets from one side only or both sides.

Manufacturers: Frazier, Steel King, Hannibal Industries (NuCore)

Common Uses: Bulk goods storage such as similar products that have large quantities.

Pallet Flow Racking

Description: These are equipped with slightly inclined rails with rollers that allow pallets to flow towards the picking position. This system is often used in FIFO (first in, first out) inventory environments.

Manufacturers: Hytrol, Unarco.

Common Uses: Food distribution, high-volume consumer goods, and other FIFO applications.

Cantilever Racking

Description: Designed specifically for long or bulky materials, cantilever racks have arms extending out from a single central column. This setup makes them ideal for storing lumber, pipes, or boards. 

Manufacturers: MECO Omaha, Steel King, Hannibal (NuCore).

Common Uses: Lumber yards, industrial storage, and furniture stores.


Choosing the right pallet racking system is critical for warehouse efficiency and safety. Teardrop racking, with its adaptability and ease of use, is an excellent choice for many. For more information on pallet racking solutions, contact Warehouse IQ at 1-888-310-0008 or email info@LeanMH.com.