Pallet racks are frequently damaged due to forklift damage, misloading and other errors. It is essential to have damage prevention measures in place for racking systems to avoid employee injury and minimize loss.
However, in an environment where workers are maneuvering heavy equipment and heavy loads in confined spaces, accidents are bound to happen.
Even the best driver occasionally has a collision, and when a five-ton forklift confronts a pallet rack, the rack is going to lose. Rack collapse is rare, but the structural integrity of the rack can be diminished, laying the groundwork for future failure. Fortunately, a lot can be done to prevent these accidents and minimize the damages when they occur.
What Are Some Steps You Can Take To Prevent It?
Driver training should always be at the top of the list. Certification should be required of all forklift drivers, as well as safety courses that are recognised widely. Drivers should also receive training in the racking system and the maintenance, characteristics, and operational limits of their forklift.
The more a driver can see, the more safely they can perform. Adequate lighting allow’s the driver to safely negotiate the aisle and have a good view of the racks. Likewise, wide-angle convex mirrors mounted on the forklift and at the ends of aisles give forklift drivers an increased ability to observe their surroundings, greatly reducing the opportunity for mishaps.
- Rack Inspection:
Pallet racks endure a lot of wear and tear. Collision with forklifts, improper loading, climbing by workers, and normal use put stress on the racks. Trained personnel should regularly inspect racks for structural integrity, damaged uprights, corrosion, row alignment, overloading, and floor condition and level.
Damaged rack components should be immediately replaced or repaired. Continued use of a structurally damaged rack could lead to failure, which would result in greater cost than fixing the problem. In many cases repairs are much cheaper and involve less down time than rack replacement.
- Aisle Clearances:
One of the chief issues with the pallet rack is the width of the aisle. This is understandable as companies want to maximize limited space, but it can be incredibly counterproductive if aisles become too narrow. While reconfiguring a series of rack aisles is painful and can be time consuming, consider the cost of a single rack collapse due to insufficiently wide aisles.
For counterbalanced forklifts, the rule of thumb is: Lift Truck Head Length + Load Length + 12″ (for maneuverability) + 6-inches pallet overhang. The head length is the dimension from the back of the forklift measured to the front of the load’s backrest. Load length is the length of the pallet based on the stringer (the 2 x 4 that’s parallel to your forks when the lift is loaded).
The generally-accepted aisle width in most facilities is twelve to fourteen feet, and that should be enough to allow good drivers to back away from one aisle without slamming the one behind them. For narrow aisle and reach trucks, consult your manufacturer guidelines. In all cases, refer to your forklift manufacturer documentation for recommended aisle widths.
- Rack Loading:
Racks should be properly labeled with clearly defined load tolerances. Drivers should be properly trained to balance and stack loads on the rack, keeping weight centered. Heavier loads should be placed on the lower rack levels, and rack uprights should be designed for the heaviest weight pallets that might be stored. This may require reinforced upright columns.
- Install Upright Protectors and Guard Rails:
Install pallet protectors at each frame post to help cushion potential impacts. Sure this has a higher initial cost, but the wear and tear it can save on your rack over time is significant.
That doesn’t even account for the possibility that it may help prevent a rack collapse that could cost many thousands of dollars, or even worse, cause serious injuries. Guarding will not prevent damage to a forklift, but the lift gets just as damaged hitting the rack as it does protectors or railing.
- Speed Limits:
Conspicuous posting of speed limits for drivers, and general warehouse safety practices, are a good way to keep employees aware and mindful of safety concerns.
Rack Protection. Eventually, a forklift will hit a rack. There are a number of options available to safeguard racks and prevent or limit loss from these impacts. End of aisle rack guards, low profile rack guards, and post protectors are just a few options available.
Lighting should be adequate in rack aisles. While this is a minor issue, rack aisles are inherently darker and throw more shadows than open floor space. Good lighting also helps drivers’ state of minds and keeps them sharper.
- Watch The Corners:
Rack is often damaged at the lower five feet when it’s hit at the end of a row—usually the diagonal and horizontal braces. This happens because forklift operators “turn into” the bottom of the racking systems as they round a corner while emerging from or entering an aisle.
Aside from consistent training, you can help prevent this type of damage if you install bollards, end of aisle guard railing or other protective systems to make sure drivers give themselves adequate turning space.
Purchasing in a Pallet Racking System is an investment and you should take care of it like one. By adopting and implementing the above ideas, you can make sure that your Pallet Racking System will be free from any damage and last you for a very long time.