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Important Tips For Keeping Your Pallet Racks Safe

By: Larry Rausch – Vice President of Sales and Marketing

Most of our customers assume that pallet racks, once installed, are good to go forever. It is no fault of their own as many racking suppliers simply don’t explain the importance of on-going maintenance and repair.  This post is intended to provide an overview of the key areas you need to look for to keep your racks safe over the long haul. In addition, this post will provide a basic overview of checks that every storage facility manager should include in their regular inspections to ensure that pallet racks are safe. The majority of pallet rack structural failures result from common mistakes.  Let’s take a look at the areas we run across on a frequent basis.

 First things first, create a checklist

Creating a checklist and setting aside a schedule for these rack inspections is key to maintaining your rack system and increasing your warehouse safety.

Load placement

Drivers should be trained to deposit pallets correctly on the rack beams. They should be square and if possible should overlap uniformly on front and back. This helps you maintain evenly-distributed loads, which are vital to maximizing rack capacity and saving wear on your beams. Also, pallets out of square can cause accidents in 2-deep rows when the other side is being loaded. Placing the load only onto wire decks, where the pallet isn’t supported by rack beams, can greatly reduce capacity.

Install netting or wire guards

These safeguards are relatively inexpensive solutions and can be invaluable in particular in areas where there is foot traffic, order picking, or other human activities in the aisles below.

Understand your rack usage prior to specification

The two main rack safety points are the proper initial design of the structure, so it doesn’t collapse and proper training of personnel to ensure a clear understanding of the structure’s operational characteristics.  If you inherited the pallet rack in your operation from someone else, find out the details of the rack system and its design. Keep a copy on file so everyone has access to the information.

Ensure proper installation & maintenance

If your uprights are not properly bolted to the floor, or have loosened over the years, rack accidents can occur. Check them regularly to be sure.  Boltless beams should always be secured to the rack. Check the rivets after installation to be sure they fit snugly and that safety clips are utilized. Monitor them over time to be sure they haven’t been knocked out of place.

Don’t overload

Well, that is obvious, but how do you enforce it in a large warehouse? It’s a matter of documentation, product distribution and training. Train your warehouse staff to understand what the capacities of your racks are, and what each load might weigh. Post capacities on the racks so anyone using them can understand at a glance how much weight the beams can take. Beam capacity is much easier to understand than upright capacity. Basically, though, if you have heavy, tall loads that result in spaces more than 48″ between beam levels, you should call a professional to certify that your rack can take the load. The rule of thumb is that the greater the vertical space between beam shelves, the lower the upright capacity.

Replace damaged racks

This is another no-brainer, but it’s amazing the battered and beaten uprights we’ve seen. We understand that it is a pain to unload racks, take them down and put in new uprights or beams. But if something is damaged and it’s carrying thousands of pounds of inventory, it can trigger collapse in entire rows, endangering people and costing much more than simple replacement.

Conclusion

To keep your warehouse racking safe, you will need to perform preventative maintenance on a weekly basis. If you have questions regarding capacity or replacing shelving components, contact your local material handling company for assistance.

We hope this post provided you helpful information as it relates to understanding best practices in pallet rack safety. To speak with one of our technical experts, please call 1-216-229-9300. And thank you for reading our post.

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