FIFO Rack Systems 101: Choosing the Right Racking System

Article Updated: 01/26/2022     Back to Blog

What Does it Mean to be a FIFO Rack System?

First-in, first-out, or FIFO, is a type of inventory management that allows inventory placed into a rack system first to be removed first. FIFO rack systems are ideal for customers requiring rapid stock rotation, have a high turnover rate for inventory, or store items with expiration dates. For example, FIFO food storage applications allows for constant product movement, safeguarding that no inventory spoils or goes to waste.

With a distinct variety of FIFO rack systems, you’re sure to find the FIFO rack option that is right for your warehouse or distribution center.

FIFO Rack System Options

FIFO Rack Comparison Chart

Selective Pallet Rack

Selective racking allows direct access to all stored pallets or cartons without the need to move others, making it a highly selective solution. Numerous aisles are required to accommodate this high selectivity. This makes it a lower density option compared to other types of rack systems.

Selective pallet rack is ideal for warehouses with continuous product circulation or that require access to all palletized items simultaneously. Selective pallet rack is a good option for FIFO food storage management.

Selective-Rack-02.jpg selective.jpg

Drive-Through Rack

This rack is designed to store pallets on support rails that are attached to uprights and are accessed by a lift truck that drives in to the system with the load elevated to the height of the rail and placed in the selected storage location. This provides high storage density by eliminating picking aisles, but offers low selectivity.

Drive-through racking is ideal for storing large quantities of similar products, products with long life spans, and products that only require large, one-time moves.

Drive Through Rack Photo Drive-Through Pallet Rack

Gravity Flow Systems

This includes carton flow and pallet flow. They are designed so that rack supports inclined rollers or wheels. This allows products to glide from the back loading aisle to the front picking aisle.

Gravity racks provide excellent volume utilization. Gravity flow can be configured in many different ways. Such as a stand-alone system, integrated with various pallet rack types, or within a multi-level pick module.

Gravity flow systems are ideal for storing materials with expiration dates such as food and beverage, materials that vary in size as well as freezer or cold storage applications. Carton flow rack is also ideal for high volume case-pick and piece-pick applications.

Pallet Flow Rack

Pallet flow1 Pallet Flow system

Carton Flow Rack

Carton Flow Rack Rollers Carton Flow system

Advantages of FIFO Product Flow

Having a first-in, first-out product flow can be beneficial to many types of operations. Some commonly seen advantages include:

  • High selectivity, increasing warehouse productivity.
  • High density, improving warehouse space optimization.
  • Prevents inventory from becoming outdated.
  • Prevents inventory from declining in value.
  • Helps ensure that any inventory warranties do not expire.
  • Allows for easier tracking of stock, since each lane is generally its own SKU and is therefore highly visible.

Integrating FIFO Racking with Other Storage Solutions

FIFO racking systems can be combined with other types of material handling solutions such as pallet racking, semi-automated or fully automated systems. Tailoring your products and throughput needs in this way will maximize your available storage space and increase efficiency.

The photo in this section shows an example of multiple types of FIFO racking systems integrated together to make a more efficient system.

In this example, two-deep pallet flow was included on the ground level for faster-moving products. Two levels of carton flow were integrated with the pallet flow for case picking of items that need replenishment closer to the 1-month range. Five levels of selective rack were included on top for the immediate product replenishment of the carton and pallet flow.

Pallet Flow Rack and Carton Flow Rack

A REB material handling specialist can work with you to understand your products and throughput needs to develop an integrated system that works best for you.

Your Next Steps for a First-In, First-Out Racking System

REB is highly knowledgeable and experienced in designing and installing FIFO rack systems. As a systems integrator, we’ll work with you to provide a turnkey system. From design, products procurement, subcontractor management, install, and permitting support, REB handles it all for you.

REB has a talented team of in-house project managers and project designers, all highly experienced in the material handling industry. We’ll work with you to make sure that your system is the best fit for your operation, installed and completed on-time and within budget.

We’d appreciate the opportunity to help you further, whether that be more information or a quote. Fill in the contact form on this page or call us at (800) 252-5955 to get in touch with a REB representative.


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