Plant & Works Engineering
10 tips for racking specification
Published:  13 August, 2015

Choosing the right racking and shelving for your warehouse or storage facility may look easy, but it can be more difficult than you think. Matt Danhieux, designer at Rapid Racking has ten tips for racking success.

1: Don’t always go for the cheapest option

The temptation may be to go for the cheapest; after all it’s just a bit of shelving or racking isn’t it? This is often the first mistake users make. Cheaper racking, particularly for industrial use, isn’t guaranteed to last and may not fulfil your business requirements in the longer term; it could be quickly outgrown by the business, or end up battered and unsafe after just a few months. It’s much better to get it right first time.

2: Scalability

How many businesses know how much they are going to grow and develop in six months’ time; how many more lines they’re going to stock or the dimensions of any new products that are going to be stored? Exactly. Your racking has to be easily scalable so that you can quickly and easily add more units or bring in new types of racking to take account of storage requirements.

3: Weight

Warehouse or storage planning, prior to the installation of shelving or any other storage solution, must take into account the weight of what is being stored and how it’s likely to be distributed on the shelf. Considering the weight factor will help you to choose a shelving system with a load capacity that is strong enough to safely store your products.

4: Access & exits

It might sound obvious, but the layout of your racking has to provide ease of access and exits for warehouse operatives and staff. We’ve seen cases where an exit has been blocked because somebody has tried to squeeze in one last row of cantilever racking or put some vertical storage racks too close to a fire exit.

5: Height

If you’re running out of floor space, why not utilise all that space above your head? There are a number of storage systems such as Pallet Racking, Long Span shelving or Two Tier shelving which can enable you to safely and easily utilise the available height of your building. This needs to be planned carefully to ensure personnel and equipment safety, but it is also a great option if your storage capacity is being squeezed. If this is something that you are considering, our advice would be to call in an expert who can provide you with sound recommendations and advice.

6: Plan for machinery

Fork lift trucks are responsible for more than 800 accidents every year in the UK, ranging from scrapes and knocks to amputations and even fatalities. Racking and shelving layouts can have a major impact on FLT and personnel safety and there is a wide range of safety products available from machine guards through to safety bollards which can help protect people, machinery and racking.

7: Robustness

Warehouses and industrial storage units are workplaces, with machinery and people constantly moving bulky pallets around. When specifying racking you need to take this into account and choose a racking system that has the durability to withstand everyday operations in a tough, industrial environment. In fact, SEMA (Storage Equipment Manufacturers Association) Codes of Practice state that damaged uprights – with as little as 3mm deflection – need to be replaced immediately, highlighting the importance of regular safety checks.

8: Use an accredited fitter

It is one thing to specify a system and another to get it installed properly. Always insist on a SEIRS (Storage Equipment Installers Registration Scheme) registered installation team who are required to follow the SEMA (Storage Equipment Manufacturers Association) installation guide and Code of Practice which guarantees that the latest health and safety guidelines will be followed throughout.

9: Don’t scrimp on safety fittings

The temptation is always to try and shave costs by not specifying smaller items, but rack protectors, partitioning panels, foam protection profiles and column guards all provide a valuable service, protecting your racking and warehouse. Similarly, location markers and magnetic ticket pouches help personnel to quickly and easily identify locations in the storage facility, increasing productivity and efficiency.

10: Get advice

Our best advice is to get advice. Racking specification may look simple but it really isn’t. There are multiple regulations you will have to follow and multiple types of racking that can be used to maximise safety and storage efficiency. Good advice will help you navigate these issues and will pay dividends in the long run.

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