For many warehouses across the country, damaged rack is often overlooked. The assumption is that because it is still technically working, it’s safe. The case, however, is that one more small impact on an already damaged rack could be the difference between standing uprights and a completely failed system leading to serious injury or death.
Industrial racking damage is an effect caused by multiple conditions all converging to impact the engineering capacity of rack components. These conditions include but are not restricted to:
- Overloading frames
- Overloading beams
- Beam damage, improper connection
- Broken or damaged pallets
- Improperly designed aisle width
- Footplate damage
- Strutting damage
- Broken or torn components
- Insufficient heights between beam levels
- Poor lighting
The greatest asset for a company to secure is the employee. Creating a safe work environment is the single most important priority an employer can establish. Safe working standards and abiding by OSHA, IBC, ANSI, and RMI regulations coinciding with undamaged and protected racking ensures the greatest opportunity for an acceptable environment.
Inspecting the Racking Components
One way to ensure the safety of your warehouse environment is to inspect or have an engineering consultant inspect the racking components. Minor to severe column damage can be located under, over, or even behind the beam connection. This creates a false sense of security because it looks like the beam to column connection is working, but contact from a pallet load or forklift can twist and shear the column in half.
Inspecting column deflection is a good way to avoid a failed system. Corner column damage is relatively more critical than damage to the front and sides of columns, however, inspecting both front and back leg columns for deformation is important as well.
A rule of thumb for column deflection is anything greater than ½” would need to be replaced. Column strutting works within the same capacity.
Allowable beam deflection is measured by length of beam divided by 180. This will give you an allowable beam deflection in inches. Residual vertical beam deformation should not exceed 20% of normal deflection under load. Residual lateral deformation should not exceed 40% of the normal vertical deflection under load.
Any beam with visible deformation or cracking of the beam connection should be unloaded and replaced immediately. Beams should always be fully engaged with proper safety locks that abide by RMI standards and have a specific upward shearing force.
After identifying the damaged rack, repair kits can be applied to the specifications needed for any application. Repair kits are spliced sections of columns and strutting that are installed in lieu of the trouble area. Most repair kits are reinforced and have the ability to add safety features like welded on column protectors or deflectors.
Repair kits are installed using specialized lifts that allow the distribution of the loads above and next to the damaged section to be transferred to the jack. This means you do not have to unload the product from your rack, something you would need to do if replacing the upright entirely. This saves time, labor, and installation costs. All rack repair must be approved by a supervisor rack engineer.
Finally, repair kits are almost always less expensive than replacing the damaged rack in terms of time, effort and cost.
Avoiding damage altogether should be the first priority. Whether your rack safety requires something as simple as 12”H floor mounted column protectors to guard rail going the depth of your racking system, it’s an important feature your warehouse should opt to fulfill.
Spending the extra money to sure-up equipment in an order to save thousands of dollars of stored product from damage not only maintains a safe environment, but also saves you from throwing away money for replacement items. Often overlooked, safety equipment is an essential tool needed to efficiently run a company.
If you have any questions or would like help with a rack inspection and repairs, just get in touch.