The Importance of Properly Engineered Pallet Rack Repair
Pallet rack damage from the impact of forklifts and reach-trucks is almost inevitable at some point in the life of a warehouse. But unfortunately, damaged rack often remains in operation because it was simply ignored, assumed to be safe, or improperly repaired. When racks are damaged or improperly repaired, the load-carrying capacity of the structure may be compromised. While a single instance of damage to the rack may not necessarily result in failure, severe or accumulated damage will reduce the capacity of the system and can push it to collapse.
The risk is of ignoring component damage can lead to far worse loss than the value of the rack. A pallet rack collapse can lead to serious injury or even death, loss of product, loss of business, high insurance premiums, and possibly litigation. Properly designed, manufactured, installed, and maintained pallet rack systems can give years of safe service, and when properly used by trained, certified forklift operators, rack should need little repair.
It is imperative, however, that pallet racks be routinely inspected and maintained correctly so they can continue to perform safely. The RMI Guideline for the Assessment and Repair or Replacement of Damaged Rack – Version 1.00 states:
Owners of racking systems need short-term and long-term strategies for damage surveys, executing repairs and record keeping.
Attempts to repair racks are often made without proper engineering oversight, which could void the manufacturer ‘s warranties and guarantees. It ‘s important that all aspects of the repair process (assessment, design and installation) be overseen by a qualified rack design engineer.
Any process of assessing damage to a rack system must be conducted under the direction of a Supervising Engineer. This does not mean that the Supervising Engineer has to perform theassessment; however, the Supervising Engineer should approve the assessment process and protocol and should communicate regularly with the Field Assessor to ensure that the appropriate information is sufficiently documented for a complete evaluation of the repair.
Here are the properly engineered pallet rack repair options set forth by the RMI guideline:
It is important to not interchange uprights, beams, or other components that look “similar to each other. When original or updated engineering documentation is available, replacement of damaged components with identical parts from the original manufacturer is an approved method – as long as the rack system still meets proper capacity requirements.
Rack Repair Kits
Some situations may call for repairing, rather than replacing, the damaged section. This is where rack repair kits come into play. These kits must be engineered to meet applicable building codes. They are typically bolted or welded in place and anchored to the floor. When designing the kit, a supervising engineer must check the configuration and loading of the existing rack at the location of the damage. They must also take into account the loads imparted on the damaged part, not just on the member being repaired. Each load configuration must be evaluated separately.
Sometimes a repair solution requires bending or straightening damaged parts. The straightening process must make certain that the necessary properties of the steel are maintained in the repaired part as approved by the supervising engineer.
Welded Field Repair
Welded field repairs can be an option when replacement or repair kits are not feasible. Any field repairs must be overseen by a qualified Professional Engineer so that the work is performed in accordance with applicable American Welding Society (AWS) codes.
The most important thing to remember is never to assume that your pallet rack will not need regular inspections and maintenance. Always keep the original manufacturer, distributor, & installer information handy in case you have questions or need service. They should be able to help you themselves or get you in touch with someone who can.
If you have questions about pallet rack, system design, or installation, let us know. As a a full service material handling solutions provider, we also offer safety audits and pallet rack repair nationwide. Leave a comment below, connect with us here, or contact us at 800-230-8846.
Photo Credit: By Axisadman – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0. Click on image to view source.