Most pallet rack is manufactured for adjustability and assembly in multiple configurations, which might lead a system owner or user to assume a current installation can be reconfigured safely to increase storage density. While making such changes to racking, such as converting five-beam racking to six by decreasing the original distance between the beams, may be possible, it also may not be safe. That’s because placing more loads within the reconfigured system could exceed the maximum capacity of the original system, creating an unsafe and failure-prone situation.
For those considering making changes to an existing rack configuration the members of RMI — which publishes the American National Standards ANSI MH16.1 for Industrial Pallet Rack that details rack design, engineering, construction, and ownership requirements — have assembled a list of rack reconfiguration “Dos and Don’ts.” Following these recommendations will enhance both the integrity and reliability of the system, while reducing the risk of injury for workers as they perform their tasks in and around the racking.
Rack Reconfiguration Dos…
- Do consult the rack system’s Load Application and Rack Configuration (LARC) drawings prior to making any changes to the structure.
- Do obtain original design documentation and drawings from the original rack manufacturer or supplier if LARC drawings cannot be located.
- Do verify that the pallet rack system is designed for more than one shelf configuration or profile, as shown in the LARC drawings.
- Do understand that the vast majority of systems are engineered specifically for a single storage purpose, and that modifying the configuration for a different storage purpose may create an unsafe situation.
- Do understand that the capacity of the rack frame is determined by the vertical distance between shelf beams (which brace the structure) and the weight of the loads placed on the beams.
- Do engage a licensed professional engineer to review the proposed racking configurations.
- Do ask the engineer to analyze the existing structure to ensure that it will work with the proposed beam elevations.
- Do thoroughly inspect the existing structure to determine if any components are damaged; replace or repair as necessary prior to reconfiguring the rack. This work should be done under the supervision of a licensed professional engineer.
Rack Reconfiguration Don’ts…
- Do not permit warehouse associates to reconfigure racking without professional guidance.
- Do not reconfigure the racking without consulting the LARC drawings first.
- Do not reconfigure the racking in a manner that does not match the LARC drawing’s possible elevation configurations.
- Do not reconfigure the racking without engaging a licensed professional engineer to review and approve the proposed changes in beam elevations.
- Do not use any damaged components in the reconfiguration of the rack; replace or repair them first under the supervision of a licensed professional engineer.