FAQ

Use the navigation on the left to view Frequently Asked Questions by category.  Click on the questions/topics to the right to view more details.

Is it ok to mix/use pallet rack beams from different manufacturers in the same bays?

No, you shouldn't. To start, that will almost always void your warranty. Plus, different rack manufacturers will use varying length tolerances on their pallet racks. The smallest differences (even fractions of an inch) will cause issues. It's always better to stay with the same manufacturer. If that is not possible, you should work with a rack manufacturer who can custom design and fabricate to be as close as possible to your original equipment.

Is there a height restriction on pallet racking?

There is no "official" limitation, but factors that will affect the height include your building's height, the reach of your equipment, your local building codes, the type of material you are storing, and similar.

Can single rows of racks be tied to the wall?

We generally advise against this. The reason is the forces that affect each become tied to each other, which is never desirable. That said, in lower seismic areas, wall ties are sometimes used. If that is the case, everyone should be on board (e.g., the building and rack engineers, local building inspector, etc.), and anticipate / design for the transfer of forces. But really, it's best to avoid doing this, and instead solve any stability issue with heavy-duty anchors / larger base plates, cross aisle tie, or similar.

Is There an Official Specification for Cantilevered Storage Racks?

Yes there is. In 2016, the Rack Manufacturers Institute (RMI) of MHI (Material Handling Institute) released "ANSI MH16.3-2016, Specification for the Design, Testing and Utilization of Industrial Steel Cantilevered Storage Racks". This is a standard for both free-standing and top-tied cantilever storage racks (both cold-formed or hot-rolled), and includes both the cantilever racks themselves and add-ons, such as decking, shed roofs, and canopies. You can find the specifics at the MHI website at https://www.mhi.org/rmi.

Do I need a building permit for my rack system?

Typically yes. The definitive answer will reside in your local building codes, but we find that almost all municipalities' codes will include language regarding storage racks, pallet racks, mezzanines, and similar. If there are no specific local codes, the locality may still follow the International Building Code, and/or the NFPA code. It is ultimately up to the end-user to be certain of these codes. Next Level storage is happy to help our customers with this - see our permitting page for more details.

Is there an NFPA fire safety code for pallet racks and/or wire decking?

Indeed there is. It's called NFPA 13: Installation of Sprinkler Systems. You can find it at www.NFPA.org.

Is it important for the rack designer to know the average load per shelf as well as the maximum load per shelf?

Yes and no (sorry - we'll explain). Average load is only used for determination of seismic down-aisle horizontal force, and is not used in static design (this prevents the down aisle seismic analysis from becoming overly conservative). The RMI Specification allows the average load to be used for seismic down-aisle horizontal force simply because only the load that's in the rack at the time of a seismic event will be affected. But RMI spec does not permit average load to be used for cross-aisle seismic forces because there could be heavier loads in individual bays.
The user and designer are reminded that for the rack design, once the horizontal seismic forces are determined, the RMI Specification requires the racks to be designed for these forces in combination with the maximum gravity loads. The loads are to be combined using the appropriate load combinations.

Does it matter if rack frame braces are damaged?

Absolutely. The frame braces are vital in stabilizing the rack frame in the cross-aisle direction and support the individual columns. Any damage compromises their ability to perform this important function. If you have a damaged frame brace, immediately (and carefully) unload the entire area (including side bays), and contact the manufacturer. If that manufacturer is not us, but you'd like help, we can offer it. See our Rack Repair page for more details.

Is pallet beam deflection acceptable? And if so, how much?

For normal applications and workloads, vertical deflections that do not exceed 1/180 (or 0.55 percent) of the horizontal beam length (as measured from the ends of the beams) is acceptable. Lesser deflection requirements are sometimes called for visual appearance and/or the use of more precise retrieval equipment. More information is available at https://www.mhi.org/rmi.

How often should storage racks be inspected?

There is no official time period, but we recommend an annual inspection by a qualified professional. If your racks have not been inspected in a while, you may want to think about a professional audit.

What is a pick-module?

Generally, a pick module is a warehouse-only structure built for efficient picking. There are usually several platform levels, with case flow / pallet flow bays feeding to a central aisle. We say "warehouse-only" because they are designed to be used by trained employees in a commercial setting, and not retail consumers.

For pick modules, are there special stairway requirements, including handrails, guardrails, and similar?

Yes there are. For pick modules, the stairways must comply with ANSI MH16.1. Again, these structures, due to their nature and movement of the goods, are only to be used by authorized/trained workers. See www.MHI.org/RMI for more information.

Is it ok to tie single rack rows to the wall?

Don't. As we stated earlier, seismic activity (even minor) can make this a bad idea. That stated, it *is* acceptable in very low seismic areas. Think about a professional seismic survey before doing this.

For installing new racks, are the floor slab and soil subgrades relevant and/or important?

Yes it is important. Ultimately, when it comes to liability, it is the building owner's responsibility to ensure the floor slab (either new or existing), and the soil underneath are capable of supporting the racks, the loads, the equipment, etc. This requires a qualified engineer to inspect the area and give the A-OK. While not a complete list, aspects checked will include the strength of the concrete (compressive yield ppsi) slab thickness, how level it is, joint strength, and subgrade composition.

Do pallet racks need to be anchored?

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Do I need column protectors for my racks? And if so, what type?

We generally think column protectors are a good idea, especially if any type of moving vehicle / forklift / pallet jack are utilized. In short, column protectors protect rack columns from collision damage. There are many types of column protectors, such as fenders, bumpers, deflectors, aisle guides, and more. Ask your warehouse rack professional (that's us!) what's best for your operation.

How do I know if my rack system accounts for seismic activity and/or forces?

It depends on 1) your seismic area, and 2) if you've had a seismic survey. Areas in Seismic Design Category A are generally safe from seismic forces, and do not need to be checked. However, Seismic Design Category B and above do. This is why seismic engineering is a large part of any racking system (for more information, see the ANSI/RMI Specification section 2.7).

Should I buy used pallet racks and/or warehouse shelves?

We don't think it's a good idea, especially since the only real reason to buy used and/or refurbished racks is to save money. In reality, working with a manufacturer-direct rack manufacturer like Next Level comes out to about the same price for new racks custom designed and fabricated for your operation. We have an extensive blog post on this exact topic here.

What if my rack frame braces are damaged?

Get them checked. All parts of any storage rack are designed to work together, transferring weight and forces for support. Like a chain, if any link is weakened, the overall strength and stability is compromised. However, if your racks are indeed damaged, rack repair can be a viable option.

What is a tunnel bay, and what do I need to know about it?

A tunnel bay is simply a storage rack bay that has a quasi built-in "tunnel". In essence, the lower beams are removed to allow personnel and/or equipment to pass through. This can dramatically increase warehouse efficiency, as it can markedly lessen distances traveled to complete tasks. The rack designer works with building management to arrive at the optimal design. Considerations include placing tunnel bays at the end of rows (may need special frames), and of course, cross-traffic safety is a concern. But good design and engineering can overcome these, making tunnel bays an effective part of a smooth-running warehouse.

Should decking be secured to the beams?

Yes. There should always be a failsafe to keep decks from falling through. For decks not designed to capture the decking, securing methods include (but are not limited to) screwing and/or riveting - this will keep the beams from spreading under load. This is all part of the design and engineering process.