5 Sheet Metal Storage Alternatives
Safety, type (and ease) of access are key considerations
Above: how difficult is it to access these sheets?
Sheet metal is one of the most difficult handling challenges out there. It’s simultaneously bulky, heavy, somewhat flexible and prone to damage if handled incorrectly. It often has sharp edges and corners, making it dangerous to manually move and turn. At higher gauges or in bundles, it requires forklifts, cranes or scissor lifts for safe and effective handling. Even a thin sheet, if it’s 4 x 8, can be too much for a single worker to handle.
Yet, sheet metal is commonly used in manufacturing and fabrication, so finding better sheet metal storage and handling methods is key. What can you do to handle it better?
Sheet metal handling alternatives
Vertical sheet racks are good for cart access. They are often manually loaded and unloaded, and are easy to set up in a work area. Once emptied they are easy to move to various places as needed.
Horizontal racks offer reasonably good access to hoists or cranes, but only after sheets have been slid out of the rack body. This typically requires at least two people, depending on the weight of the sheet. Capacity is 2,000 pounds or less.
Roll-out metal sheet racks make sheet metal much easier to handle with cranes, hoists and forklifts and can handle very heavy loads in a tight space. Standard capacities of 5,000 pounds per shelf can be expanded to 10,000 pounds in certain sizes and configurations.
Roll-out shelving for metal sheets is similar, but for lighter weight metal (capacity of 1,500 pounds). They still allow easier crane and forklift access.
Cantilever racks and standard storage racking are sometimes used as well. Cantilever can offer good access, but typically the weight and dimensions of sheet metal don’t store well on anything but very long, heavyweight columns and arms. Floor storage is also an option, but can cause issues with space utilization and safety.
It’s about a balance of space efficiency, safety and accessibility
There are other ways. You can stack it on the floor, which makes the sheets harder to reach and manipulate and reduces storage density, but in the right situation, the stability of a floor stack may fit what you need. You can store it on traditional pallet racks, but that’s usually for bulk storage, not production level storage, since it requires a forklift or possibly a stacker to access. Ultimately, you have to store it in a way that best matches your application and standards. If you have questions, contact us for fast assistance.
- Guide to Stacking Bulk Materials
- How to Deal with Larger, Bulky Items in Rack Storage
- Warehouse Ergonomics: A Quick Guide
Scott Stone is Cisco-Eagle's Vice President of Marketing with more than thirty years of experience in material handling, warehousing and industrial operations. His work is published in multiple industry journals an websites on a variety of warehousing topics. He writes about automation, warehousing, safety, manufacturing and other areas of concern for industrial operations and those who operate them.