Warehouse Rack FAQ

Use the navigation on the left to view Frequently Asked Questions by category.  Click on the questions/topics to view more details. We have an extensive question and answer format related to warehouse rack faqs, cantilever rack faqs, mezzanine faqs, and much more. Have questions on installation, safety, or something else? Click away!

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.

Do you have galvanized racks? And where should they be used?

Galvanized pallet racks are ideal for outdoor environments, as well as anywhere moisture will be prevalent (such as refrigerated areas.) We have several types of galvanized racks - Hot Dipped for most uses, pre-galvanized and/or Zinc electroplated for better appearance (note: Zinc electroplated is not really suitable for outdoor use).

Are there differences between U-Channel and Flared-Wire decks?

Yes, and the main difference is in the step. U-Channel Wire Decks have the step on the inside of the beam, where the U-Channel fits into it. Conversely, Flared Wire Decks fit "no step" box/structural beams.

Why don’t you sell used pallet racks and related material?

Because we don’t like them, and we feel it's not an ideal product where hundreds or thousands of pounds are involved. Besides, since we're the manufacturer and avoid the middleman, our NEW racks are often a much better value.

Are row spacers (teardrop or otherwise) interchangeable?

The best answer we can give is "maybe". Send us a closeup picture of what you have, and we'll let you know. Since we are the manufacturer, you can be confident we'll do our best.

Are cantilever racks interchangeable?

Again, the best answer is "maybe". This is where working with a manufacturer like Next Level is paramount. Since we control the build, we're your best bet to get a match.

Can pallet supports be used under wire decks?

Indeed they can, and will provide more stability. Remember that pallet supports will raise the wire deck approx 1/8” (we'll remind you!)

Is there a method to measuring the distance between pallet rack levels?

Leave space. At least 8" greater than the pallet height (that gives us 4" for the next beam, and 4" lift-off.) For horizontal, leave 5" between the pallets and frame (both sides) and 6" between pallets.

Do you do more than sell pallet racks?

Yes indeed - Next Level is a full service material handling and storage company. Besides making every type of pallet rack you can think of, we also handle cantilever racks and mezzanines, and have an array of design, installation, and engineering services. Got an empty building you need to turn into an efficient warehouse? Call us - we'll do it all!

Can anyone buy from Next Level?

Generally, yes. Although we're a B2B material handling vendor - this means we don’t make racks for your home garage or pickup truck.

I have existing pallet racks, but I have no idea who made them. Can you help?

We do this for clients. If we're doing a job for you, we'll already be doing our best to identify what you have.

Do you have rack accessories and safety products?

Indeed we do - clips, column protectors, guard rails… you name it.

Where do you ship from?

We have 20 FOB locations nationwide, and can get you your goods typically within 48 hours.

What info do you need to quote us?

As much as you can give. Obviously, rack type and all measurements are paramount. What material you are storing helps. The facility, where you are, the intended use… again, the more information you can give, the better (sending us "need rack quote" as your comments typically gets a "need more detail" answer. Let's avoid that time wasting endeavor.)

Do you offer installation?

AB-SO-LUTELY! (that's an enthusiastic "yes"). Let us know, and we'll include installation in your quote.

Do you offer Pushback Pallet Racks?

Of course. We have a page devoted to that at https://nextlevelstorage.com/products/push-back-rack/

How much for shipping?

Depends on many factors (how much material, how far, timeframe, etc.) We'll give you the best, most accurate quote possible.

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.

How much weight can a pallet rack hold?

It depends on the pallet rack and the materials used to build it. A general measurement is each pair of horizontal beams hold a maximum load of 4 tons (2x2 squares of one ton pallets). For framing, the standard duty type frames/uprights are generally for 9 tons, medium duty built for 15, and heavy duty for 20 tons. But these are all approximate - we will help you determine the best pallet racks for your needs.

How is pallet racking built?

There are several methods to building pallet racks - welded systems, clip systems, bolted connection systems. Our proprietary flexrack is a bolted teardrop system, and we feel that's the industry leader, because it's not only the strongest, but it's the easiest to work with.

How do you dismantle pallet racking?

If you have a clip or bolted system, it's fairly easy. Make sure the racks are empty of course, and undo the clips or bolts.

How much Pallet Racking do I need?

Determining how much pallet racking you need takes many factors into account: the size of your building, the area dedicated for racking, the weight of the inventory you will store, how high / how many levels up do you need to go, the operation of your facility, etc. In other words, there's a lot to it. Next Level can help you determine how much racking you need.

How to identify different pallet rack types?

Within the term "pallet rack" are different types of racks. "Drive in / drive through" racks have space for a forklift to actually drive in. Pallet flow racks allow gravity to help move the racks into position. Gravity flow racks are similar, save they are more for product than pallets. Double deep racks or very narrow aisle racks are exactly what they sound like - either double deep or made for extremely narrow aisles. Cantilever racks use uprights and separate arms protruding, making them ideal for lumber, paneling, piping, or other long material.

What is looked at in a pallet rack inspection?

When we perform a pallet rack inspection, we look to answer the following:
Are the racks level and plumb?
Are any of the metal components rusted or corroded?
Is the rack right for the loads, or is it overloaded?
Are the uprights fully straight and undamaged? Bent uprights are common, and should be replaced.
Are horizontal beams straight, level, and undamaged? And are they attached to the beams solidly and correctly?
Are the safety pins and/or beam attachment pins present and undamaged? Are any missing (this is common).

How do you measure for pallet racking?

For your horizontal beams, from the inside of the upright to the inside of the upright. Then measure the beam face (the top-to-bottom thickness of it). For uprights, first get the depth (outside to outside), then both the outside and inside face of the upright, then measure the length and width of the footplate, and finally a top to bottom height measurement. We know that all sounds confusing - call us and we'll help you.

Should you bolt down pallet racks?

It depends on your application, the rack, and use. There is no clear-cut rule or regulation here. Sometimes it's a good idea, sometimes it isn’t, and the reasons can vary with materials, your seismic profile, your use, etc. We'd much prefer to speak with you before committing to an answer on a FAQ.

What is adjustable pallet racking? And how about "selective pallet racking"?

The term "adjustable pallet racking" generally is all pallet racking. When you can adjust the height of the horizontal beams, you have an adjustable pallet rack. "Selective pallet racking" is the same thing - the terms are interchangable.

From SSI Schaefer, selective pallet racking is the same as the adjustable pallet racking.

How do you calculate pallet rack load capacity?

Tough question to answer online. It will depend on (of course) your rack, your usage, your seismic profile, and more. If you have an existing rack and you really need to know this answer, it's worth having an expert take a look. If you are buying a new rack, your manufacturer will have this information readily available.

How do you design a pallet rack?

When we design a pallet rack, we take many, many factors into consideration - the material stored, the flow of the building, the types of material and storage timeframes, the types of equipment used, future use, and more. A properly designed pallet rack system will pay for itself over time with logistical/time savings, so it greatly benefits you to have an expert help you with this.

What is a pallet flow rack?

A pallet flow rack is a pallet rack that uses gravity to gently shift the pallet into position. Have you ever gone to a store and picked a product off the shelf, then gravity pulled the next one in line to the front? Generally the same principle.

What is a teardrop pallet rack?

It's the most common type of pallet rack system today, and is easily identifiable by the "teardrop" shaped holes in the uprights.

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.