Industrial steel storage racks are an essential part of any warehouse or factory, but they need careful installation, inspection, and maintenance to work safely. The best safety solutions for any facility vary dramatically depending on the type of goods, weight limits, and facility’s overall logistical needs.
Even the highest-quality roll-formed steel racks fail if they are overloaded or improperly installed. Whether your facility moves heavy furniture with forklifts or mainly has light-duty racking needs, you must think through your rack design carefully and in consultation with racking experts.
Rack Safety Mechanisms and Weight Limits
Modern steel storage racking systems are made to specifications designed by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and adhered to by members of the Rack Manufacturers Institute (RMI). Many racking systems have similar expectations for resistance to force, locking mechanisms, and periodic rack inspection for damage.
However, these safety mechanisms can fail if they are overloaded or damaged. Your storage solutions must account for realistic weight limits, given the type of goods your facility stores.
Used vs. New
Buying new storage racks is often an unnecessary expense, especially for small businesses that are still growing. Many companies choose to buy used storage systems as temporary or permanent solutions to their material handling needs.
Used storage racks can be just as safe as new ones, but you need to make sure they’re from a provider who has inspected and made minor repairs to them as needed. An expert in racking systems also knows about changes to safety recommendations and requirements and only sells racking that still complies with new regulations.
Balancing Height and Safety
Although warehouses are typically designed with high ceilings to make the most of available floor space, there is a limit to how high racking can safely grow. Multi-level systems are safe as long as their depth and width are enough to support their height. It’s typical for racking systems to extend 20-30 feet high, but anything taller than that should ideally be secured to a wall or ceiling for extra safety.
Your state may have additional building codes for storage rack safety, especially regarding height and structural systems. Always ensure you’re erring on the side of caution, especially if your racks store cumbersome items.
Decking, Grating, and Beams
The upright supports and crossbars of your storage racks are important, but neglecting your storage racks’ other surfaces can also cause accidents. Many pallet racking systems use beams that run from front to back on each layer. These beams often include small rollers to make the boxes or pallets move more smoothly.
Wire decking and grating are also good for racks that store boxes or small irregularly-sized products. Since grating is much thicker than wire decking, it’s the safer of the two options if you store big boxes. However, decking is sufficient for most types of consumer goods stored in distribution centers.
For very long or awkwardly shaped products, such as industrial steel bars, cantilever racks are the standard and safest option. These racks eliminate the front crossbeam to make it easier to load and unload the items without hitting the supports and causing damage.
These racks often have two sides to maintain balance while maximizing space efficiency and capacity, but they can also be affixed to a wall. They can be custom-sized to fit just about any product you store in your warehouse.
As artificial intelligence improves, new automated products continue to appear in warehouses—current automation options for racking range from basic picking systems with elevators to fully-enclosed vending-machine style systems.
These automated options improve safety by eliminating human error and including many failsafe triggers to keep product or system damage from occurring. Although they are much more expensive than traditional racks, they save most users money in the long run by reducing labor costs and expenses incurred as the result of accidents.
In addition to the racks themselves, some accessories can enhance the overall safety of your racks. The most common ones are guardrails and end-of-aisle protectors, but there are many additional products available depending on the type of racking you’re using.
Guardrails fit at the bottom of any racking or other space where people or machinery may be maneuvering. End-of-row protectors are specially designed to fit around the bottoms of columns and supports, where a blow from a forklift could be devastating.
Supply Chain Storage Solutions
Since the best options for storage racks vary so much depending on the size and type of goods, you need to talk to a storage provider with the biggest range of options possible. Shelving + Rack Systems, Inc. has been in the materials handling business since 1979 and is committed to providing the safest products for you.
We’re happy to talk you through considerations for the planning of your rack system. Contact our team at (800) 589-7225 to get started.