Pallet racking is possibly the method of storage used most widely in warehousing and distribution centres. It is versatile, cost effective and easy to fit, so perfect for warehousing operations of all sizes.
However, there are a number of common pallet racking mistakes that companies often make when purchasing and using pallet racking. These can impact on profit, efficiency and safety. Here are three things to consider when planning your pallet racking system to ensure that you don’t make costly errors with its purchase and use.
1. Thinking Floor Space Rather Than Volume
In business it is always important to keep one eye on the future. This is especially prudent in warehousing where things can change at a rapid rate. When planning your warehouse you need to take into account your future business needs and allow for expansion and change. This includes being able to make efficient use of the available space both now and in the future.
Space is of a premium in warehousing so it is important to consider the space available to you. So, think of your building’s volume not just the available floor space. Think ‘up’!
You can create a taller pallet racking system that will make use of otherwise dead space or even consider adding mezzanine flooring for future expansions.
It is also important to think of the movement around your warehouse space. Often businesses add more racking to increase storage without considering ‘flow’. This can seriously hamper the productivity of your warehouse and reduce the efficiency and profitability of your processes.
Investing in a universal or adjustable racking system will allow your storage to be highly flexible in case of future expansion and growth. It is worth considering the type of racking you need carefully and not simply opting for the cheapest option.
Warehouses are under pressure to reduce costs and increase productivity. Sometimes when cost efficiencies are so highly desired it is possible to make decisions that save money in the short term but create larger capital spends in the future. Often businesses purchase the cheapest pallet racking system they can find, believing that all systems are the same.
As with all products there are different qualities available. It is worth investing in the best quality system that you can afford. This will reduce maintenance and repair costs and will ensure that you do not have to replace the system sooner than expected.
Having said this, it is also important to remember that you do not necessarily need to buy new pallet racking. Good quality used pallet racking is readily available in excellent condition and offers great value for money.
Once you have purchased your pallet racking system it is important to maintain it. Ignoring minor repairs can lead to expensive bills in the future.
Safety is paramount in warehousing. Pallet racking systems are safe and efficient if properly maintained.
However, it is easy to become distracted when business is booming and to forget or not have time to fit in regular pallet racking inspections, staff training or to be tempted to overload the racking.
The Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 states that pallet racking ‘must be maintained and inspected on a regular basis’. Any damaged pallet racking must be repaired as soon as possible as its load bearing capacity will be compromised and it may become dangerous.
It is also important to ensure that your staff’s forklift training does not lapse. A number of pallet racking collapses each year are caused by forklift trucks repeatedly bumping into the racking and weakening it. If small damage is not reported and dealt with, weaknesses in the structure caused by the damage could cause a catastrophic collapse.
Load capacities should never be estimated. The weights and capacities of any pallet racking system are finite and any deviation will undermine safety.
Finally, the most important element of safety is staff training. Staff must be informed not to climb on, overload, or load pallet racking in an incorrect or unsafe way.