Warehouse types

We all know what a warehouse is. However, it is possible that we have not stopped at the different types of warehouses and the different systems that these spaces use to house merchandise.

Although everyone needs to store, the needs of the products and the characteristics of the warehouse itself will make some options or others more suitable. From automation to the order of entry and exit of the products, going through the type and dimensions of the materials that we have stored; All this will influence the storage system that we build.

Main types of warehouse

selective rack

When we think of a logistics warehouse, we instinctively tend to imagine this type of warehouse. They are especially indicated for the storage of pallets and offer great flexibility. You can store different types of merchandise and provide a modular character, in addition to being able to vary the height of the openings according to our needs.

However, its main feature is the ease of accessing any of the pallets in the warehouse at all times, as they are all within the reach of the operators at all times. This makes them a good solution for companies that require that immediacy to have any reference and/or work with many references but not in large quantities.


Although the most common are metallic, we can also find them built with other materials, such as plastic. They are, in a way, the simplest, since they are usually used to put products directly on them -without pallets in between- and thus have them quickly within reach. This also means that they usually contain small and light products, usually for picking. They may have trouble supporting heavy weights.

mobile shelving

We find these types of warehouses in the same case as in the previous point, except that the racks are mounted on mobile systems that allow them to be moved. By being able to join each other, the use of space is maximized, so they are recommended when we have to make the most of it, above other considerations such as time (having to move the shelves to access the merchandise). . This type of warehouse is also interesting where land is expensive, the warehouse cannot be expanded or the cost of the warehouse is high (such as refrigeration facilities, etc.).

Drive In and Drive Through

In these cases, the aisles of the racks are compacted, glued to each other, and access to them is through the ends, entering with the machinery through the facility. For this type of warehouse to be efficient, we need to store homogeneous products with a large number of pallets for each SKU. Otherwise, we would not be able to have quick access to the merchandise that we needed at all times. However, they are the ones that optimize space the most.

In ‘Drive In’ systems, you only have access to the aisle from one side, so you need to work with LIFO (Last In, First Out) models: that is, the last merchandise to enter -which is the one that we have accessible- must be the first to leave before a new order.

In ‘Drive through’ systems, it can be accessed from both sides of the rack, so it also allows the use of FIFO (First in, First Out) systems: the first merchandise to arrive is the first to leave.

Push Back

In these types of warehouses we use gravity to move the merchandise. Usually designed with two, three or four pallets deep, the merchandise is located by pushing the rest of the pallets towards the bottom, thanks to roller or similar systems that facilitate their mobilization. Due to the inclination (the height being lower in the aisle part), when the outer pallet is removed, the next one takes its place (they are also LIFO systems).

They are an intermediate point between pallet racking and drive storage types, in the sense that they do not need as many equal SKUs to be useful (as they are only up to four pallets deep) and they offer a very good use of space.


This type of warehouse is designed for FIFO systems. In this case, the part through which the merchandise enters is the one that is highest, so the pallet moves forward to the other end, where it will be removed by the operator in charge of preparing the order.

It is a common system for working with perishable products or with restricted expiration dates, since it is impossible for the product that comes out to be not the oldest.

shuttle or cart

These storage systems use ‘shuttles’ or ‘carts’ to move the pallets, from their location to the free place for removal. The operator digitally gives the signal to the warehouse and this is in charge of finding the pallet, sending it to the shuttle and making it available to the worker.

By not having to operate machinery between the warehouse aisles, this system allows us to use drive-in racking. Which means a better use of space. Logically, the installation of these warehouses is more expensive and possible technical failures can cause us service problems by not being able to access the merchandise on our own. The key is to study how much operating costs we save (time, labor, moving heavy machinery, etc.) to determine if it is the right option for us.

self supporting

The clad-rack storage system lives up to its name, since the rack itself is integrated into the construction and support of the warehouse structure itself. These types of warehouses are usually used when we want to make the most of the available space, especially to create very high racks.

It allows a fast and economical execution of the warehouse construction process and is compatible with many types of merchandise: dry, refrigerated, large dimensions, conventional or automated warehouse systems, etc.


Cantilever warehouse types are the most used when the dimensions of our materials are very heterogeneous and/or bulky. By not having front columns in the rack frames, it is easy to insert and remove larger merchandise than usual. For this reason it is frequently used in sectors such as hardware, metallurgy, wood, etc.

It shares with the selective rack offering a great capacity for selecting the merchandise that we need to recover at all times.

There are other storage systems such as mezzanine or multitier, in which height is played by building new platforms or intermediate floors, seeking once again to take advantage of space. However, they are less common options than the previous ones we have seen.

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Khaterine William

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