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Very Narrow Aisle, Narrow Aisle, and Standard Pallet Racking: What’s the Right MHE?

Material Handling Equipment are the devices used to aid warehouse functionality through the loading, moving, and storing of goods. Material handling equipment is crucial for the success of a company by eliminating the risks of damage and loss through improper storage or handling, and increasing the efficiency and capacity of work. The different width aisles of very narrow aisle, narrow aisle, and standard pallet racking means they can’t all use the same standard material handling equipment.

Standard aisle pallet racking is a simple and versatile storage solution, where pallets are easy to load and unload using a standard forklift truck. Standard aisle width is anything 10’ or larger - typically 12’ - and can accommodate most types of material handling equipment, and standard forklifts.

Narrow Aisle Pallet Racking is a highly efficient method of space optimisation, that uses aisles 9’ wide and enables businesses to dramatically increase capacity in a warehouse with limited floor space.

Very Narrow Aisle Pallet Racking is a similar, very compact system, with aisles less than 9’ wide. The pallet racks are installed in a configuration which puts each row as close together as possible. It provides an option which allows space to be optimised and filled as efficiently as possible, but it does require the use of specialist equipment as normal forklift trucks are unable to operate in such a narrow space.

Different types of material handling equipment require different aisle widths to operate. Both narrow and very narrow pallet racking commonly require specialist material handling equipment in order to operate in such a narrow space.

The cost incurred by requiring this specialist and adapted equipment is usually recovered by the improvements in storage and picking rates.

A standard single-reach forklift truck needs at least 9’ and a larger reach forklift will need more space within an aisle. A four wheeler forklift will also need more room than a three wheeler forklift, but both are effective within standard aisle racking. Traditional forklifts will need adapting before they can be used within narrow or very narrow aisles.

Reach trucks, 3 wheel electric trucks, or very narrow aisle trucks are all effective options within a narrow aisle system as they require less turning space.

Stand up truck options require less space to turn due to their smaller size and are all good options for narrow aisle systems.

Very narrow aisle trucks are the most compact option and are a very effective option for use in very narrow aisle configurations. They often use a swing reach to reduce the need for turning spaces.

Pallet and platform trucks traditionally work in narrow aisles of 9’, but newer electric models require only 4-5’ of space and thus can be used in very narrow aisle configurations.

Walking stackers are a highly manoeuvrable truck that can work within an aisle width of 8’, so again are a good option for very narrow or narrow aisle configurations and can be powered or manually transported.

Deciding which piece of material handling equipment will work best for your racking configuration is a complex process, but luckily, DC Space & Storage Solutions offer a bespoke end-to-end service and can advise on all aspects of efficient warehouse use. Contact us today with any enquiries on 01392 927096, or email us at

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