A Glimpse at the History of Pallet Racks

By: Larry Rausch – Vice President of Sales and Marketing

Over the years we are often asked about the history of pallet racks. Questions like who invented them to when did they become mainstream?  We thought it might be an interesting topic to explore. Following World War I, pallet racking came around to give warehouses the ability to store pallets vertically. When warehouses have this ability it will double or triple the storage capacity. Happy reading.

It all started in the early 1900s when companies had to start looking for an easier and cheaper way to package their products. Corrugated packaging was born. This style of packaging was widely accepted by rail and road freight authorities. The boxes were cheap to produce and easy to pack. Although the boxes were convenient for price, the labor cost were not. Each box had to be moved by hand. If products were heavy they had to make sure the packaging remained small for ease of carrying. Something needed to be created to help move products quicker.

By 1915 a device had been created: The forklift. Forklifts became an important piece that helped the entire warehouse system function. With the forklift, pallets of products could be moved no matter the weight. This helped speed up the loading and unloading process. The forklift was changed to lift pallets several feet in the air. This feature gave way for the use of pallet rack.

Once the late 1920s hit, the first pallet rack system came about for vertical storage. Warehouses could grow upward instead of out. This way of storage proved to be much more cost effective. As time went on warehouses went from storing one layer of pallets per level to being able to design systems to hold more weight when distributed correctly. This introduced multilevel pallet racks.

Pallet racks have proven to be useful for all industry types and have become an industry all their own. Every year the number goes up for items being produced and shipped which brings the need for more pallet rack systems. Companies spend millions of dollars on warehousing every year and a good amount of that is spent on pallet rack storage systems. The main market driver for this growth is increasing warehouse space optimization. If you see your company exceeding the storage capacity of your warehouse, don’t wait for it to decrease the productivity level of your warehouse.


Pallet racks have been around for a long time.  It all started with the advent of corrugated packaging and the forklift industry. With these inventions, industry soon realized that going vertical would expand storage capability and make moving product from place to place more efficient. To speak to one of our technical representatives, please call 1-216-229-9300. And thank you for reading our post.

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