In a recent YouTube video that has gone viral in the past few weeks, a forklift operator nicks the corner of a warehouse shelf only to have the entire racking system completely collapse all around him.
While this video was popular, it illustrates the fact that most warehouse racking systems are integrated and that a small problem with one component can have profound implications on all of the rest. That’s why it’s so important when repairing any part of a warehouse shelving system that you look at the big picture, rather than just the component in front of you.
One Piece of a Larger System
Most racking systems have a lot of separate parts that fit together to create a unified whole. These can include columns, base plates and anchors, frames bracing, row spacers, beams, beam to column connectors with locking mechanisms, and accessories such as wire decks and cross bars.
Each individual piece is connected to all the others. So when there is a failure in one, it can have dire consequences for all. That’s why it’s so important to look at the big picture when doing inspections of warehouse racking systems and when making repairs of individual pieces.
It’s important to remember that a repair isn’t just a simple fix. It could affect the engineering of the entire system. Experienced rack maintenance workers need to be one part repairman and one part systems engineer.
How to See the Big Picture
While the size and complexity of the racking system can vary from business to business, the bottom line essentials remain the same. Seeing the racking system as a whole requires understanding how each piece is integrated into the others.
A good place to start is by looking at the layout and elevation of the rack. An original document may have been created when the rack was built. If not, consider creating one on your own. Begin by reviewing any building permits that were originally issued when the racks were constructed. These probably will include loads and profiles, essential information for understanding how your racking system works.
If there is damage to the racking system, the first thing to do is to figure out what pieces need to be replaced or repaired. The next is to verify that the actual loads on the rack are the same as what the rack was designed to carry. Finally, look to see if the current design configuration follows the codes when the rack was originally built.
Understanding how an integrated racking system works could save your business from being featured on a future viral YouTube video.