Warehouse rack systems can pose a safety hazard to warehouse employees if they become damaged or are not properly maintained. That is why it’s important to regularly conduct rack assessment inspections to identify and repair/replace damaged uprights, beams and wire decks.
It’s no secret that one of the major causes of warehouse rack damage is forklift impacts. In some large operations, 50 or more impacts a day are not uncommon. Even an impact at a slow speed can cause enough damage to compromise rack integrity.
A comprehensive training program and technology such as Crown’s Infolink® operator and fleet management system can all help reduce rack impacts. There are also measures that can be taken to bolster and protect the racks themselves.
Making sure aisle space is wide enough for operators of all skill levels to quickly move loads in and out of racks will help lessen the risk. You can—and should—also take steps to protect the integrity of the racking structure more directly.
For instance, column protection can help alleviate costly damage to unprotected uprights. There are steel units that wrap around the base of the upright column and are anchored to the concrete with wedge, bolt or screw fasteners. There are also rubber, steel or plastic protectors that attach directly to the frame. They can be installed during the initial project and reduce the total cost for labor since the work crew is already on-site to install the racking system.
End-of-aisle protection can also contribute to less damage. End-of-aisle protection is a heavy guard at the end of the aisle where additional traffic occurs. This is also an area where pallets typically get placed, making it more susceptible to damage.
These structures can isolate and help reduce the effects of impacts on racking structures. This will not only keep your racks in good working order, but it will also protect the materials you store from damage.
Another step you can take is to reinforce upright columns at the time of purchase. A double front post consists of adding a second column welded to the back of the front upright. At a minimum, the double post must extend past the first beam level to strengthen the upright. A “heavy horizontal” is a heavier strut connecting the front post to the back post. Usually, this heavy strut is only installed at the bottom of the upright. Combining a double front post with a heavy horizontal can help protect frames from damage caused by pallet strikes during put away/picking operations. Some manufacturers even offer a steel or wood insert to strengthen the upright column and help reduce damage to the upright.
More Than Just Protecting Your Investment
In addition to the safety aspect, there are additional costs rack damage can incur. Racking systems can be a significant capital investment in any warehouse and leaving the lower sections of uprights/racks unprotected leaves you more vulnerable to damage.
Downtime, material costs, and the soft cost to unload/load these areas to complete the work to repair or replace the damaged rack are factors to consider when leaving a system without protection. Given these considerations, there’s more to protect than just the rack investment.