Pallet Rack Damage: Repair or Replace?

Pallet rack damage at some point in time is inevitable. Everyone will eventually face the question of whether to repair or replace a portion of their pallet racking. Hopefully, you have safety protocols in place to help prevent or minimize damage to your racks, and if so, your damage prevention plan will include regular safety inspections and audits. We strongly advise a yearly safety audit performed by a licensed professional, but a year is a long time. You should be performing frequent in-house inspections as well. Let’s first take a look at what you will be looking for during these regular in-house inspections.

Are the racks overloaded?

This can not always be determined at a glance, but if your beams show a large amount of deflection, that’s a sign your pallet racking system is overloaded, and you should call for a professional inspection right away.  (A certain amount of deflection is acceptable, but should disappear when you unload the beams.)

Are the beams damaged or insecure?

Look for dents, dings, and scrapes that could indicate forklift damage. Inspect the connections a to make sure the beams are seated properly. Ensure that are beams still correctly attached with the correct hardware. Look for damaged or missing bolts, clips, or safety pins, and tighten any loose ones.

Are the uprights or bracing bent or damaged?

Look for paint scrapes that could indicate a forklift impact. Check the baseplates to make sure they are securely anchored to the floor. Check the horizontal braces for bending or twisting (bent bracing can be sign of overloading). Don’t forget to check for damage to your rack protection products if you have them. If you find damage there, then make sure the incident that damaged the rack protectors didn’t damage the rack as well. (Be sure to remove and replace damaged rack protectors.)

Do you see any rust?

Rust is often the result of very moist environments. If allowed to go too far, it can weaken the metal. Rust or corrosion can also be a sign that paint was scraped off as the result of a forklift impact. 

Are the racks out of plumb?

Racks that are out of plumb from top to bottom  can be the result of poor installation, inadequate flooring, or foundation settling. Out of plumb racks can also be the result of overloading or forklift impact and can greatly reduce the capacity of the rack’s column. 

Repair or replace?

When racks are damaged (or improperly repaired), the load-carrying capacity of the structure may be reduced. And while just one accident might not result in failure, accumulated damage can ultimately lead to pallet rack failure.

If you find damage during your in-house inspection, you will have to take action. You will need to consider whether repairing or replacing is in order. How do you make that decision? The RMI Guideline for the Assessment and Repair or Replacement of Damaged Rack states in section 3.0, Rack Repair Principles, that the responsibilities of owners/operators include:

Consulting with an appropriate Rack Design Professional or Engineer when moving, reconfiguring, replacing or repairing rack systems.

The RMI guideline further states:

The repair process (assessment, design and installation) must be overseen by a qualified Rack Design Engineer (Supervising Engineer).

The decision to repair or replace is not to be taken lightly. There are advantages to repairing when the situation warrants, and there are times when replacement is really the best, or only, option. Don’t risk making the wrong decision; if you find damage, consult with a professional to make the best decision and to ensure many years of trouble-free service.

(These suggestions are for informational purposes only; consult with a rack inspection professional to make sure that your rack is safe and not in danger of failure.)

Next Level is more than just a pallet rack manufacturer; we are your warehousing partner, offering a full range of material handling services, including equipment and safety audits nationwide.  Contact us to schedule a time to conduct a warehouse inspection based on OSHA regulations. Click here to learn more about Next Level Material Handling Services.

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