Pallet rack is a vital part of most warehousing and manufacturing operations; allowing us to store and retrieve bulk loads of material or product quickly and efficiently. However, even though it is right in front of us, it suffers the out-of-sight-out-of-mind problem. We see what’s on the rack, the pallets, and containers, boxes, and crates, filled with products and raw materials; but we don’t see the rack. The rack just isn’t that important in our daily operations. Because of this, damage to pallet racks goes unnoticed and unreported, much of the time.
Discovering damaged uprights
To the right, you’ll see a damaged pallet rack upright leg. A lift truck’s fork most likely impacted this upright leg. The damage to this upright has reduced its structural integrity by an unknown factor. The specific capacity of the pallet rack upright, according to the Rack Manufacturer’s Institute, should be considered zero (0). Pallet rack is an engineered product designed to operate as manufactured. With this extra bit of “customization”, we cannot say it is operating as it was manufactured.
At Conveyer & Caster – Equipment for Industry, we take pallet rack safety seriously; because, when pallet rack is damaged it’s susceptible to toppling. This could cause a very large game of dominoes to begin, leading to injuries and potential fatalities. Our factory trained professionals can help you identify the rack components that are damaged and discuss your options. Sometimes rack is repairable, while in many cases, it needs to be replaced.
What the experts say
The Rack Manufacturers’ Institute, a part of the Material Handling Industry Association, states that:
The rack frame bracing consists of horizontal and/or diagonal members that join the front column to the rear column. These members are very carefully designed by the rack manufacturer to stabilize the rack frame in the cross-aisle direction and to support each of the individual columns, also, in the cross-aisle direction. Any damage to these components could jeopardize the stability of the frames and could degrade the strength of the column.If a frame brace is damaged, the first priority should be to immediately unload the area supported by the damaged component and to prevent placement of loads into that area. In the case of the frame braces, it may be the bays on either side of the upright which are damaged.Contact the manufacturer’s representative for an engineering evaluation of the effects of the damage to the structural integrity of the rack, of the damage. Only after such an evaluation, after repairs if necessary are competently completed, and after approval of the work is done should the rack section be returned to service.
Call your representative today to schedule a Pallet Rack Inspection at your facility or use our handy contact form.
How can you prevent pallet rack damage? That’s an excellent question. We can examine it from two perspectives: structural prevention and procedural prevention.
Structurally we can protect the pallet rack uprights with column protection devices, like a free-standing column protector pictured to the right. This doesn’t so much solve the problem, as it does put a shield in front of the upright. But, in an existing warehouse, short of redesigning the layout, it works pretty well. When designing new pallet rack systems, think about aisle width, based on forklift type and pallet size. Further, beam length selection is critical. A beam that is just long enough could lead to more damage as clearances are tighter.
Procedural prevention is a human solution. Forklift operator training and coaching are critical. Avoid high speeds and sharp turns, just like when driving on the road. Reaction times shorten as velocities increase. Proper maintenance of lift equipment is also critical. Proper brakes and accurate steering provide for a safer operation.