“When you reach 10,000 pallets in storage you need to start thinking about an AS/RS,” he says. “When you’re space-constrained and you need to store more than you have space for, it’s time to start thinking about going up with storage retrieval systems that uses all your vertical space.”
One area where it’s never acceptable to be thrifty is safety. Different racks have different shelf lives, and according to Oliver, the typical structural steel rack lasts up to 20 to 30 years, while most cold roll-formed steel racks last approximately five to 10 years. When their shelf life expires, it is essential to replace them, or have the original manufacturer repair them, no matter what the investment is. Keeping old racks or ill-repaired racks can result in failure, extensive product damage and even loss of life.
Purchasing used rack is an offense Larson often sees.
“Mixing used rack with new rack is a huge concern,” says Larson. “Be very careful when considering used rack. The history and condition of the rack doesn’t have to be disclosed before you buy it so if anything were to happen in the distribution center, the responsibility would rest on the facility manager. New racks can be a hefty investment, but the insurance of having undamaged racks outweigh the risk of using compromised ones.”
Oliver urges facility managers to resist the temptation to re-profile, or reconfigure racks in an attempt to gain storage density. Arranging the beams and frames in any combination other than the original design can cause critical rack failure.
“Every facility should have a set of drawings with the approved system and a placard stating what load it was designed for and the approved elevation the rack frames were made for,” says Oliver. “The general manager of the facility should have that information at his disposal and should be consulted before anybody moves any portion of their racking system.”
Using the right racking system can reap a host of benefits including maximization of storage density, faster throughput and workforce reduction. Armed with the knowledge of racking basics, finding the right system for your company’s changing needs should be possible at any price point with the variety of options available today.