Pallet racking is common method of storing goods and cargo—particularly a significant number of large and/or heavy items—used in warehouses, factories, and farms in many industries throughout the world. Essentially, pallet racking is a storage system that involves the storage of cargo on pallets and the storage of pallets on racks.
Proper pallet racking is very important to the efficiency and safety of any operation. What should you take into consideration when it comes to pallet racking? If you are involved in pallet racking, then you might want to think about taking the time to learn and follow pallet racking tips.
Consider the Load
An important tip on pallet racking to keep in mind is to consider the load. What are you planning on storing? This will have a bearing on whether you would select:
- light-duty pallet racking (for example, load capacity does not exceed 660 pounds)
- medium-duty pallet racking (for example, load capacity is between 660 and 1,320 pounds)
- heavy-duty pallet racking (for example, load capacity is more than 1,320 pounds)
The capacity of the pallet racks must correspond to the load it will be bearing. The weight of the cargo on each shelf should never exceed the maximum capacity of the pallet racks; you should never overload pallet racking shelves, even if the rack seems to be able to bear the heavy load for the moment. It’s also important, when considering load or capacity, to ensure that your pallet racking is not “top-heavy”; this means that light cargo should be placed on top (high), and heavier cargo should be placed on the bottom (low).
Types of Pallet Racking Systems
There are many different types of pallet racking systems available to consider:
- load/capacity: as mentioned, choose pallet racks based on what you need to store—light-duty for lighter loads/cargo, heavy-duty for heavier loads/cargo, etc.
- standard pallet racking systems: basic pallet racks
- drive-in pallet racking systems: also known as drive-through, high-density storage; can increase pallet storage and maximize space by eliminating aisles
- pushback pallet racking systems: helps store more in less space by increasing the density of the storage system, maximizing warehouse space, and increasing pallet count
- carton-flow pallet racking systems: designed for high-volume order picking with reduced operator activity; used for order accuracy; common with conveyor systems
- gravity-flow pallet racking systems: manufactured with rollers and use gravity to “feed” pallets to their positions; some are designed to hold up to 20 pallets deep within a single storage lane
- cantilever pallet racking systems: common in steel factories and lumberyards; also known as “furniture racks”; ideal for the storage of long, continuous items
- mezzanine flooring pallet racking systems: use existing square footage and overhead space to maximize warehouse space
Other Pallet Racking Safety Tips
Safety should be a top priority when it comes to pallet racking. Here are some other pallet racking safety tips to keep in mind:
- Maintain awareness of all potential hazards in the pallet racking area/areas; this can include falling objects (cargo, pallets, and pallet components), ladders, spills, trip hazards, and forklifts
- Trip hazards: Regularly inspect pallet racking areas and keep an eye out for trip hazards, such as pieces of broken wooden pallet pieces, pallet strapping, cardboard, shrink wrapping, paper, etc; pick up and discard trip hazards
- Only certified forklift operators should operate forklifts
- Stay alert when working in pallet racking areas where forklifts and/or pallet trucks are in operation
- Stay away from areas where forklifts are in frequent use
- Regularly inspect for damaged pallet racking components; immediately report any damages and do not attempt to fix yourself, unless you are trained to do so
- Regularly inspect pallet racking for falling object hazards; report immediately
- Do not stand on or climb pallet racking shelves
- Ensure pallet racks are used only for their intended use
- Consider having a professional engineer inspect your pallet racking system annually