Pallet Rack Aisle Dimensions

  • Pallet Rack Aisle Dimensions

    When working on a pallet rack strategy for a warehouse it is important to implement correct aisle dimensions for optimum productivity to accommodate different forklift types If you fail to design aisle dimensions as recommended, you could render your space inefficient at best and non-functional at worst. In this initial development phase, it's important to keep in mind the various kinds of forklifts, trucks and pallet jacks you plan to use in your warehouse space and with the pallet rack you are installing. In this post, we look at some of the most common types of industrial trucks and discuss how to determine aisle dimensions for each one.

General Guidelines for Aisle Configurations

In most cases, aisles designed to accommodate 3-wheel forklifts, 4-wheel forklifts, or counterbalance forklifts are wider than those used for standard trucks.

Keep in mind that as you design your layout, you'll need to take more than available square footage into consideration. Also measure around all existing building columns, utilities and any other obstacles or obstructions that may affect the layout and restrict the number of available pallets. 

When calculating these dimensions, industry professionals use the following calculation:

Head Length + Load Length + 12-Inch Add-On for Maneuverability + 6-inch Add-On for Pallet Overhang = Aisle Dimensions Needed.

Next, let's break down each component of this formula. 


Head Length

This distance measures frojm the back of the forklift to the front of the load's backrest

Load Length

This measures the length of the pallet down the stringer (the 2-inch by 4-inch board that spans the length of the pallet), taking into account any product load overhang.

12-Inch Add-On

Most designers will allow a 12-inch add-on dimension for maneuvering space.

6-Inch Add-On

In addition, they'll add a 6-inch add-on for pallet overhang, nothing that loads can hang over more than six inches.

Aisle Dimensions Needed for a 3-Wheel Forklift

Most warehouse managers will clear 11-foot to 12-foot aisles for 3-wheel counterbalanced lift trucks.

Aisle Dimensions Needed for a 4-Wheel Forklift

In a similar vein, warehouse managers will clear 12-foot to 14-foot aisles for 4-wheel counterbalanced lift trucks.

Aisle Dimensions Needed for a Stand-Up Forklift

This kind of forklift doesn't require quite as much width for maneuverability, so aisle dimensions of around 10.5 feet to 11.5 feet will work when you're storing and retrieving pallets in a standard-sized racking system.

Note that for each additional double row of racks added to your layout, you will need to add an extra 19 feet of building width. This is necessary to accommodate the extra rows, as well as the aisle width required to access those racks.

Aisle Dimensions Needed for an Order Picker

Is your order picker the free-wheeling, cherry-picker variety? If so, make sure to allow 18 inches of clearance per side when it's moving down an unguarded aisle. On the other hand, a guided order picker only needs around six inches of clearance on either side of the lift truck. Keep in mind that this type of picker is normally the width of a standard pallet (40 inches). Therefore, when deciding aisle dimensions, you can calculate that:

  • An unguided cherry picker needs 76 inches of clear aisle (18 inches on either side 40 inches for picker).
  • A guided cherry picker needs 52 inches of clear aisle (six inches on either side plus 40 inches for the picker).

Aisle Dimensions Needed for a Swing-Reach or Turret Truck

These next two sections will focus on narrow aisles, which encompass both reach trucks and deep reach trucks. In most environments, a narrow aisle is one that measures nine feet or less. For a standard reach truck aisle, account for 9-foot to 9.5-foot aisles. Then, add six extra inches for pallet overhang (three inches on either side).

Aisle Dimensions Needed for a Deep Reach truck

A deep reach truck features a longer scissor and a heavier capacity. As such, it requires an additional 12 inches to 18 inches of aisle space. This brings the total aisle dimension to around 10 or 11 feet if you're working with standard 48-inch long pallets.

Aisle Dimensions Needed for Pallet Jacks

Retrieving your pallets with an end-controlled rider pallet jack? If so, you'll work with narrow aisle dimensions of around 9 feet to 11 feet. Newer, electric models require only around four or five feet of aisle space!

Measure the Right Warehouse Aisle Dimensions

Remember that while the above aisle dimensions are a great place to start, your ideal dimensions will center on the existing layout of your space, as well as any structures or features that affect mobility. Before making any design decisions or construction changes, always consult your documentation first. Many truck lift manufacturers will include aisle calculations designed to fit their specific vehicles. Working with a complex or multi-faceted warehouse design? It's best to contract a qualified racking company for support! That's where we come in. We're experts in the pallet racking industry, well-versed in how to succeed in this space. Reach out to us and request a free consultation today. We'll discuss your current racking issue and the best way forward. We're a phone call away, and this professional insight can make all the difference in your warehouse design.