Understanding Pallet Rack Frame Capacity

The two guiding principles of any warehouse operation are safety and efficiency. The storage solutions you use play a crucial role in storing and retrieving inventory, directly affecting their productivity and workflow. Pallet racking is a high-density storage system and, depending on the materials used and the configuration can safely store an enormous variety of items.

To ensure your pallet racking system can support the pallet load, it is vital to determine the pallet rack frame capacity. This refers to the total weight the upright frames can support.

How Pallet Rack Frame Capacity Works

Unlike the pallet rack beam capacity, the pallet rack uprights’ weight value can support is adjustable. This flexibility allows you to store heavier loads at the bottom of the racking systems and lighter loads toward the top, reducing the risk of toppling and improving overall safety.

There are two critical factors to consider when calculating the frame load capacity: the pallet’s dimensions and the combined weight of the pallet and product.

Finding Beam Length

The beam length correlates to the pallet dimensions. Wider pallets require broader beams, as you need to provide at least a foot of clearance to minimize damage to the goods and allow for picking equipment to access the pallet.

Beam length calculations are calculated per pair of pallets. If you have a 40” wide pallet, you multiply the width by two, then add 12”, giving you 90” total beam length. The extra foot also ensures that you comply with fire and safety codes.

This calculation allows you to estimate how many total beam levels are needed to accommodate your inventory, consequently affecting the pallet rack frame capacity.

Assessing Rack Height

One of the biggest benefits of pallet racking is that the beam levels are height-adjustable. The vertical space between each pair of beams is called the vertical beam spacing. Many systems feature simple yet secure keyhole slots on the uprights that let you alter the vertical beam spacing as inventory changes and supplier demand increases.

However, rack manufacturers recommend avoiding reducing the number of beams in the overall structure as this can adversely affect the system’s weight capacity.

The distance between the beams also affects the total pallet rack capacity. The load weight exerts more torque on the frame over a greater distance, so the higher the vertical beam spacing, the lower the weight capacity will be.

As the vertical beam spacing changes according to the application, most manufacturers rate their pallet rack frames using a standard unit of spacing, typically 48”. This rating allows you to calculate each beam’s capacity and the overall frame capacity if you make adjustments.

Finding the Upright Frame Capacity

To calculate the upright frame capacity for your needs, take the estimated maximum load weight for each beam level and multiply it by the number of beam levels in the racking section. Factor in the vertical beam spacing according to your pallet dimensions using the ratings available on the capacity chart supplied by the rack manufacturer.

Other Factors Contributing to Upright Frame Safety

Load Distribution

Another factor that affects the total upright pallet rack frame capacity is how the pallets are loaded onto the frame. The structural capacity required to support a pallet relies on even distribution. If the pallets are loaded asymmetrically, the load’s force is placed on a single upright, resulting in an unbalanced rack.

Height-to-Depth Ratio

The Rack Manufacturers Institute suggests that a pallet rack system be no more than six times higher than deep. The added depth provides stability to the system in case of a collision, natural disaster, or accident.

For racking systems that exceed this 6:1 height-to-depth ratio, warehouse managers can use row spacers to attach rowing or racks and add depth without compromising the warehouse floor plan.

Rack Anchors

Rack anchors are the industry-standard feature for securing racking systems to the warehouse’s concrete floor, reducing toppling risk.

You can also use column protectors, and end-of-aisle guard rails to prevent collisions with picking equipment, damaging the rack structure, and reducing the frame capacity.

Pallet Rack Frame Capacity

Final Thoughts

Determining the correct pallet rack frame capacity for your storage system ensures a safe work environment, complies with occupational health and safety codes and optimizes your storage space for more efficient loading and picking.

At Shelving + Rack Systems, Inc., we carry the best range of premium new and used pallet rack systems available. Explore our online catalog or call us at (800)-589-7225 for a consultation with our project managers and let us help you find the perfect racking system for your facility.