Is Your Warehouse Storage Racking System Legal?

Permit-approvedIn the 1970s and 80s, permits for pallet racking systems were non-existent. Back then, most building authorities treated pallet racking as simply a piece of equipment back then, but a lot in warehousing has changed in the past thirty years. Now, most city building departments require a permit to erect and use pallet racks and other storage systems that are over 12 feet tall, or over 8 feet tall in seismic areas such as West Tennessee and California.

Two different entities must be satisfied for warehouse permitting: the city fire department and the city building department. Because pallet usage is so prevalent, warehouse storage systems are a convenient target for regulators. Fire departments in particular wield a great deal of power over warehouse operations because they can choose to visit and inspect operations any time. If your unlicensed rack system is “red tagged” by a regulator, your construction schedule will brought to a standstill, creating a domino effect which is not only disruptive, can be very costly, as well.

Though the permitting process varies from city to city, the outline below covers most applications and is a good general guide for how the process works.

1. The warehouse operator submits layout drawings to the rack distributor/dealer, or to the manufacturer if dealing directly with them.

2. The dealer provides a set of drawings from the layout drawings which will contain details specific to the rack supplied.

3. The dealer sends the drawings and other data to a Professional Structural Engineer (PE), who must be licensed in the state where the project is planned.

       (a) The Professional Engineer prepares the engineering calculations based on the loads proposed for the system, the rack proposed, and the seismic conditions of the site.

       (b) If the design and material are deemed good to go, the PE stamps the plans and the  calculations, returning the package to the supplier/manufacturer.

       (c) If the materials and design are insufficient, the PE will communicate the issue to the dealer. The dealer typically makes whatever design change the engineer recommends and then resubmits the changes to the PE, who finallyapproves and stamps the plans and drawings.

4. The dealer then submits the plans and calculations to the city and files for the permit.

5. The city reviews the plans and calculations. In some cases, a city engineer will review the plans and calculations. In either case, if the city approves the plans and will issue a permit, pending inspection. You may not receive a paper permit at this time, but they will tell you that you are OK to build but not load, pending inspection. In some states, like in California, the city sends the submission out to a third party for review.

Next Level has extensive experience nationwide in obtaining approved permits for erecting storage rack systems. We will coordinate the approvals with the building inspector to ensure a sign-off that works for your schedule and allows use of your racking as soon as you need it. Click here to learn more about all the services Next Level offers to help you complete your project effectively & efficiently, saving you time & money in the process.

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