Pallet racks are one of the hardest-working warehouse installations you’re likely to come across.

They’re expected to carry the heaviest loads in the warehouse, and due to the amount of goods being stored on them the wear and tear they encounter is constant. Yet they stand there, without complaint, patiently waiting for another forklift full of goods to come by and get loaded up.

It’s not always that easy, though. In many cases, depending on what your warehouse stores or what products you deal in, your pallet racks can encounter some tougher loads than usual. Heavier products, goods not stored on pallets, and the like can make organizing your pallet racks a little tougher than usual.

If you need to keep your heaviest loads organized safely, here’s a few of the more common (and tougher) pallet rack loads and what you can do to get them under control:

 

Machining/die storage

If your warehouse has any sort of manufacturing capacity to it, those tools and dies have to go somewhere when not in use, and in many cases steel pallet racks wind up serving as their home due to its strength and weight capacities. But you can’t rely on it to do all the work for you—you need to develop a safe handling process that allows easy access to these parts without risking injury or damage. Provide enough racks to give space between each item as needed, consider implementing gravity flow racks if the dies are light enough to use these rollers without them breaking, and in cases where the dies are extremely heavy and need to be moved more often, you may need to offer some kind of in-plant crane or hoist to save time that would be taken up by forklifts.

 

Long vertical storage—pipes, lumber, etc

Even without weight concerns, one of the biggest hassles in a warehouse is long goods like pipes, metal girders, lumber, and the like. If your warehouse deals in these items frequently, the best way to store them is to get a specially designed pallet rack without an upper deck so you can provide the most vertical storage you can. Take this rack and add wire deck dividers or A-frame dividers to create ‘slots’ that these items can be stored in vertically. By keeping them upright (or storing them ‘the long way’) you can maximize your space more effectively and make it easier to retrieve these items as needed. (In extreme cases you may need to move these items onto cantilever racks and leave the pallet racks for the shorter items, but it may be more cost-effective to try to use your current racks first.

 

Long horizontal storage

In a similar vein, a lot of items wind up being stored horizontally on pallet racks because they’re too fragile and/or heavy in the middle and could damage themselves on cantilever racks. Make sure your racking decks stretch far enough back to store these items (typically including things like carpeting, film, roofing materials, and the like) and get a forklift with a ram pole attachment that can lift these goods more safely than the typical two-prong forklift design.

 

Loose goods

Most pallet racks are built to store tightly-packed and covered goods all in one pallet, but in a lot of cases the items you need to store aren’t packaged quite so tightly. These could be the long and oddly-shaped, they could be items that are being saved for individual shipments later, or maybe they’re just items that need to be unpacked to await shipment. Either way, these items need to be stored according to the rack’s specifications for height, weight, and depth—make sure your staff knows exactly how much each rack can store before they start going overboard and storing too many items on their shelves.

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