When designing pallet racks, people tend to pay attention to the easy parts. Beam capacity is straight math; the capacity of a pair of beams, so long as the load is evenly distributed, the load properly positioned, and the safety clips are installed, is a reliable number. Frame capacities are a more complex, as they rely on vertical spacing between levels. Get these factors right, and typically it doesn’t take an engineer to design a safe and reliable rack system.
Forklift aisle widths are typically set when pallet racking is installed. In many cases, such as narrow aisle projects, these spaces are critically important. Typically, warehouse managers don’t attempt to lay out these types of storage facilities. But for reach truck, selective rack applications, these aisle sizes are often “eye balled”, or given a 12′ width no matter what type of forklift is using the aisles. If you are laying out a facility, what criteria should you use for rack aisle width?
There’s a lot of confusion about the different finishes that can be applied to a pallet rack wire deck. Various manufacturers offer different finishes, and you may have need of more than one of them for different types of storage applications. Nashville Wire, our rack decking supplier, has sent us this super-basic primer on the common finish options.
To save time, people sometimes climb pallet racks to pick orders or do other things. This should never happen.While it’s faster to climb than it is to bring a rolling stair ladder or a forklift in to do it right, it’s dangerous and counterproductive. Do it long enough and there will be injuries.
Pallet rack is typically safe and easily-maintained storage equipment, whether you are dealing with selective, pushback, drive-in, or other types of rack. But if you load it wrong, if you don’t inspect and repair/replace damaged components, if you don’t understand your capacities, and if you don’t take steps to ensure your rack isn’t impacted by loading equipment, that safe rack can become dangerous and expensive.
We have created an infographic to help you navigate the most common mistakes people make dealing with pallet racks. Feel free to share this graphic to any site or other media. It is the first of many infographic posters we’ll be offering to help people operate and maintain material handling equipment.
If you’re paying someone to store a pallet for you, what’s reasonable? Are you overpaying for convenience or location? It’s not easy to compare 3PL vs. 3PL, or even your own warehouse so you know for sure if you are getting value for your money. But there are some basic assumptions you can make to help you understand what you’re dealing with, the costs the 3PL may experience, and reasonable costs for your storage projects.
Pallet racks are frequently subject to abuse, and even the toughest rack will need some cautious handling, processes, guarding equipment, and other help to remain in service. Racks can be overloaded, hit by heavy forklifts, misloaded, and otherwise impacted. These are some tips to help you avoid the frustration, expense, and danger of rack damage.
Although this incident took place in a big-box warehouse store, it could have happened in any number of industrial warehouses across the country. The presence of order pickers, shoppers, or others in a rack aisle is a top safety concern, in particular if the aisle on the other side of the rack row is being restocked. Most likely this accident was caused by a push from the opposite side of the racks.
In any case, a tragic accident was narrowly avoided by sheer luck.
If possible, these kinds of accidents should be guarded against with items such as rack safety nets or wire mesh safety panels. This isn’t always possible, since lifts may need access to both sides of a rack aisle.
Another thing you can do is try to remove pickers from aisles where trucks are working the other side. If they are executing each-pick or carton-pick from lower bays, is it possible to move those to their own area of the warehouse, away from lift truck traffic?
In the case of poorly constructed storage, it’s a matter of process. Inspect pallets before they go into the rack. Are they stacked for stability? Shrinkwrap or band them to shore them up. Don’t allow carton picks from those pallets if possible, as that can destabilize the load. If you must pick from them, bring them down, pick, re-balance, and restock them. That’s time consuming compared to a quick carton pick, but given what almost happened here, and what could happen any day in any warehouse, it’s a small price to pay.
You can also clear both sides of a bay when either side is being loaded or unloaded by forklift. This helps you keep people safe even if there is a spill. Of course training lift drivers to avoid these types of “push” accidents is mandatory, but you can’t count on training alone when there is this kind of danger to people in the next aisle.
The situation is familiar: in a busy warehouse or distribution center, you can have dozens or hundreds of order pickers that walk the floor with carts and clipboards or scan guns to pick orders for shipping. These are usually focused people who have the job in mind. After all, you’ve probably told them how speed is of the essence – which it is. The problem is that in many or most operations, there are also powered industrial trucks (forklifts, walkies, electric powered jacks) operating in the same space, often in cramped pallet rack aisles. And guess what? They’re busy and focused on the job, too.
And these two groups are working the same space, at the same time. It’s almost assured that if you have this situation, you’ve had accidents, or near-accidents — which you may never hear of, until the near-miss isn’t a miss at all.