It's tempting to look at pallet rack as a simple construction project. Lift the uprights, attach the load beams, and you're done. Presto. Just like an erector set. But while the new rack you've installed in your warehouse may look pretty, it sure isn't sitting pretty. Because aside from the framework itself, there are a half dozen other little bits you've ignored, and which are necessary to the safe construction of your pallet rack, not to mention for full compliance with Rack Manufacturers Institute (RMI) standards.
Whenever you're installing new or used pallet rack, we highly recommend consulting material handling experts like us at Speedrack Midwest before beginning work. The following is a list of components that should come standard with every pallet rack project you undertake, and which you should seriously consider whenever you're installing rack in a new building you're unfamiliar with. These components are meant to save lives, prevent injury, and avoid damage to your rack and inventory.
Bear in mind that this list does not constitute a complete guide to the safe and compliant installation of your rack, and that stricter standards are in place for locations susceptible to regular seismic activity.
What's Missing From Your Pallet Rack
Anchor bolts: Notice how the foot plates on your uprights come with pre-cut round holes? Those are there for a reason. When you've measured for your rack installation, make sure to mark on the floor where your uprights will sit, and prepare to drill into the floor for anchor bolts. RMI suggests that a ½" diameter bolt is ordinarily recommended for most non-seismic rack. If you don't know what length the bolts should be, consult the rack manufacturer for instructions.
Shim plates: The naked eye may not be able to detect it (or maybe it can), but your concrete floor isn't perfectly level. So what are you going to do? Pour a new one? No way. This is where you turn to shim plates: thin steel plates that you can stack as needed below your uprights' foot plates to keep uprights from going out of plumb. Get shim plates from the same manufacturer as your rack to make sure the anchor bolt holes align. Keep your rack standing perfectly straight, and you protect its structural integrity.
Safety Pins: Generally speaking, load beams are self-locking thanks to gravity. Take the ubiquitous teardrop design as an example. The load beam inserts into the wide part of the hole on the upright and slides down to rest in the narrow part of the hole. End of story? Hardly. All types of pallet rack come with some kind of locking mechanism. Our own Speedrack pallet rack comes with J-shaped locking pins that are easy and cheap to install. If you don't think accidents can happen, they can. A forklift may pop a load beam out of position, and a safety pin or locking bolt may be the only thing keeping it – and everything sitting on it – from tumbling to the ground.
Capacity Plaques: New load beams should come with plaques clearly indicating their designated weight capacity, but you can take it even further. Make sure these plaques are always easily visible, unmodified, and uncovered, and find out what each level of your rack can take in terms of weight. The higher you go, the less weight you want. Display these weights, too, so that everyone in your warehouse knows the limits of your rack.
Guard Rail: Column protectors and end-of-aisle protectors are just couple of the fail-safes you should be using in your warehouse. Anything to keep a forklift from getting too friendly with your rack, or the people who are walking beneath it. You may even see the bottoms of load beams wrapped in foam to protect from minor collisions. These are all in place to protect the longevity of your pallet rack, and to stop a catastrophe from happening. And just like your pallet rack, they should be properly anchored if you expect them to act as tough as they look.
The material handling experts at Speedrack Midwest are ready to help advise you on the construction of your pallet rack, and to lend you an installation crew to do everything by the book. Call our Sparta, Michigan office at 616-887-8886 or contact us online to speak with one of our project managers and get your pallet rack project off the ground.