Although pallet racking can handle a large amount of wear and tear, it’s not invincible. Let’s identify the main sources of damage to pallet rack:
Overloading beams is a dangerous but often overlooked procedure. Whether it’s new staff that do not know the load capacities, missing safety labels, or a pallet weight oversight, overloading is common and requires beams to be replaced immediately. Either remove the beams and upgrade to a heavier beam. Speak to an engineer if you’re unsure about the “smile” beams are showing due to overloading.
Forklifts are the obvious suspect. It’s a common mistake to slightly bump racking because of narrow aisles or a mistimed pallet placement. New technology in WMS help track forklift drivers and notify the operations team of any incidents, even if they are slight bumps to racking. Always consider safety rack guards for the column post and end of rows.
Envirnomental conditions of the warehouse have to be considered before you purchase a full pallet racking system. For cold storage or wet climates, consider structural steel frames and galvanized finish. The intense environment of some facilities will cause wear and tear much faster then an average warehouse. Look at your options and outline the environment you expect the rack to be experiencing to your suppliers.
How do you prevent pallet racking damage?
Employment training: employees need to know how to handle forklifts. This includes driving, backing up (or towards) pallet racking, and manoeuvring through a facility productively and efficiently. Training them early to use the equipment will save significant damage costs over time. Even the smallest accidents will happen, so prepare to take immediate action to replace or upgrade your pallet racking to ensure a safe picking environment.
Driving visibility: driver’s awareness is key to preventing damage to pallet racking. Installing mirrors, alarms for backing up, and other devices may seem expensive initially but it’s very worth the outcome. Also remember that excellent lighting keeps your drivers engaged and focussed.
Cameras/monitoring: If a rack frame or beam does become damaged, cameras can help identify who caused the issue and how you can address the problem better. This would be an opportunity to improve training procedures, or improve the layout to prevent an unforeseen accident happening again.
Reporting accidents anonymously: employees may feel awkward if they see an accident occur but do not want to report it, knowing their name can be connected to the incident. Giving an designated area with paper and pens will allow employees to anonymously document accidents they may have seen happen during the job. It also removes their fear of being punished for not acting upon the accident as soon as it occurred. They will feel braver to respond to the damage they see occur.
Ensure the correct load rating is easily visible: Always confirm the beam and upright capacity match the load you want it to carry, so the rack isn’t damaged, bent, or completely destroyed.
Cleaning: Making sure the area around the rack is nice and neat is easy to do. Clutter causes problems and can hazards for forklift drivers or even just employees walking around throughout the building. The cleaner the area, the safer the rack.