Drive-In and Drive-Thru racking systems are made of vertical uprights for support and rail beams for pallet storage. Products are stored back-to-back, floor-to-ceiling, which means you can store more items using these systems than other types of systems. The main difference between Drive-In and Drive-Thru racking is how pallets are loaded and unloaded.

What Is a Drive-In Racking System?

Drive-In racking systems possess one open side. Here, the product is loaded and unloaded. To load or unload a pallet, the lift drives in to the rack and either drops off or picks it up. The first pallet stored will be placed in the rear of the rack, and each subsequent piece will be placed one slot behind that until that row is full. Then, with only one open side, the last product loaded onto the rack is the first unloaded. This racking method is known as last in/first out (LIFO).

A Drive-In system allows for tighter box stacking, resulting in more storage capacity in your warehouse.

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What Is a Drive-Thru Racking System?

Drive-Thru racking alternatively has two sides. One side of the rack is used to load materials and the other is used to unload them. Drive-Thru is very similar to Drive-In racking, with the exception of having this second side dedicated to unloading materials. Due to this difference, Drive-Thru racking supports a first in/first out (FIFO) approach.

What Are Drive-In/Drive-Thru Racking Systems Used for?

These racking systems are used for many different applications where increased storage space is a priority. They are also ideal for temperature-controlled storage, making them an excellent choice for the food and beverage industry. Common uses include:

  • Products with quick turnaround (Drive-Thru)
  • LIFO (Drive-In) Processes/FIFO (Drive-Thru)
  • Cooler and freezer applications
  • Non-perishable items

The Pros and Cons of Drive-In/Drive-Thru Racking Systems

Drive-In and Drive-Thru racking systems offer many unique benefits. They are especially useful for freeing up space in your warehouse for efficient organization. But they may not be the best choice if you need high selectability. Here is a breakdown of the pros and cons of these systems.


  • High density
  • Lower price point
  • No supplementary rollers or carts needed
  • Virtually unlimited storage depth
  • Better entry/exit control
  • Versatile with many size options
  • Can be integrated with push back racking systems
  • Energy-efficient — dense storage helps you save on warehouse heating and cooling costs, especially in freezer applications


  • Pallets on lower levels must be moved to access the higher levels
  • Limited selectability – can lead to honeycombing issues (Vacant space as a result of removing certain items)
  • Not compatible with standard forklifts and lifts require a custom guard

Is a Drive-In/Drive-Thru Racking System Right for My Warehouse?

There are numerous reasons why a Drive-In or Drive-Thru racking system may work best for your warehouse, including for:

  • Limited space: If you have large amounts of similar products that don’t need frequent rotation, these systems make more efficient use of your space.
  • Cold storage: If you need to keep your products stored at a certain temperature, a Drive-In system is an excellent choice. Cold storage is expensive, and a Drive-In system helps you store more temperature-regulated items in less space. The system also helps you minimize entry and exit points for better energy efficiency.
  • Fragile products: Drive-In and Drive-Thru systems offer better protection for fragile products, as many fragile products are easily damaged when stored in block stacks.
  • Static products: High amounts of items that don’t require frequent movement like non-perishables and seasonal products are best-suited to Drive-In systems.
  • FIFO flow: Drive-Thru systems work well for a FIFO storage approach where more separation between loading and extracting products is required.

Why Buy From Arnold Machinery Company?

When you partner with Arnold Machinery Company, you will receive superior customer service. We offer a Silver Service® guarantee, which is our promise to you that we will do everything we can to ensure you are satisfied with our products and services. We give you peace of mind knowing that we will make it right if anything does not meet your expectations.

Contact us today for a free quote or more information about what we have to offer. If you live in the western United States, you can visit one of our locations to see our inventory in person and meet our friendly staff of material handling experts.

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