5 Signs Your Warehouse Racking Needs an Upgrade

May 8, 2024

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Considering a storage rack upgrade? If you're on the fence about investing in new or better storage solutions, there are a few key things to take into account that will help you decide on a course of action.

JS Rack & Supply is a national supplier of warehouse storage materials and tools based out of Estacada, OR. We have years of experience in helping customers to find the best storage racks and tools for them.

Five signs that your storage materials need to be replaced are - 

Sign One: Visible Damage:

This could include bent or cracked beams, corrosion, loose bolts, or damaged welds. Even minor dents or a slightly crooked shelf can indicate a safety hazard.

Looking at this more closely, different types of racking face different problems. 

Pallet Rack Damage - 
Pallet racks are susceptible to damage from various sources, including:

  • Forklift impact: This is a common cause of damage to pallet racks. Forklift drivers accidentally hitting uprights, beams, or braces can cause dents, bends, cracks, or even complete component failure.
  • Overloading: Exceeding the weight capacity of a beam or the entire rack system can cause permanent bending or warping. This can significantly reduce the load capacity and lead to collapse.
  • Improper use: Using pallet jacks or other equipment to pry at pallets lodged in the rack can damage the beams and uprights.
  • Wear and tear: Over time, even with proper use, the constant weight of stored materials can cause the metal to fatigue and develop cracks.

Here are some specific areas to watch for damage on pallet racking:
  • Upright columns: Dents, cracks, bends, or misalignment.
  • Beams: Dents, bends, warping, or loose connections at the uprights.
  • Baseplates: Cracks, loose or missing anchors, or signs of shearing.
  • Bracing: Bent, loose, or missing horizontal or diagonal braces.
  • Safety locks: Damaged or missing safety locks on beams.

Cantilever Rack Damage -
Cantilever racks experience similar types of damage as pallet racks, but due to their design, they are more prone to specific vulnerabilities such as:

  • Overloaded arms: Since cantilever arms only have support on one side, overloading can cause them to sag or even break.
  • Uneven loading: Uneven distribution of weight across arms can cause the entire rack to become unstable and tip over.
  • Impact damage: Similar to pallet racks, forklift impact can damage the arms, columns, or base of the cantilever rack.

Here are some key areas to inspect for damage on cantilever racking:
  • Arms: Bends, cracks, or warping, especially at the connection point to the column.
  • Columns: Leaning, cracks, or damage from impact.
  • Baseplates: Similar to pallet rack baseplate damage.
  • Braces: Bent or loose braces, particularly the diagonal braces that provide stability.
  • Connections: Loose or damaged connections between arms and columns.

If you notice signs of damage on your pallet racking, cantilever racking, boltless shelving, teardrop racking, and any other storage systems, it might be time to upgrade.

Sign Two - Inefficiency:

Imagine a warehouse overflowing with potential, but its disorganization is creating a daily headache. To illustrate what inefficiency looks like, here's a scenario -

The Company: A sporting goods distributor carries a wide range of equipment, from bulky kayaks to delicate fishing tackle.

The Problem: The warehouse relies on a disorganized mix of storage solutions. There are a few old pallet racks crammed together, overflowing with boxes of various sizes. Smaller items like fishing gear are scattered across metal shelves that haven't been adjusted in years, making it difficult to see or reach anything in the back. Bulky kayaks and bicycles are precariously stacked on the floor, blocking access to other areas.

The Resulting Inefficiencies:
  • Delays in Selection: Workers waste time searching for specific items amongst the clutter. They may have to climb ladders to reach poorly placed boxes or crawl under kayaks to access shelves.
  • Inventory Inaccuracy: Disorganization makes it difficult to track inventory levels. Lost or misplaced items can lead to stockouts and delays in fulfilling orders.
  • Damaged Goods: Improper stacking and lack of designated storage areas for bulky items can lead to damaged equipment during retrieval or movement within the warehouse.
  • Safety Hazards: Overloaded shelves, unstable stacks, and blocked walkways create safety risks for workers, increasing the potential for accidents and injuries.
  • Wasted Space: The inefficient use of vertical space and cluttered floor plan prevent the warehouse from maximizing its storage capacity.

This is just one example, but it highlights how a poorly designed storage system can have a domino effect on warehouse operations.

If your current racking system makes it difficult to find or reach items, it can slow down warehouse operations and reduce productivity. This could be a sign that you need a more modern system with a better layout or features like adjustable shelves.

Sign Three - Capacity Limitations:

This one is the easiest to cover. If all other things are accounted for, and you're simply running out of room, it's time to upgrade your storage.

When capacity is an issue, the solution may be to acquire taller shelving, more shelving, or more space.

Sign Four - Safety Concerns:

Damaged or overloaded racking systems can be a safety hazard for warehouse workers. If you are concerned about the safety of your racking system, it is important to have it inspected by a qualified professional.

Warehouse shelving and storage systems become a hazard when - 
  • They are damaged
  • They are overloaded
  • Items are stored improperly
  • The warehouse or shelving does not meet safety requirements for disasters like earthquakes, fires, and tornadoes.

Sign Five - Changes in Inventory:

Changes in inventory can necessitate a racking system upgrade in a few key ways -

Increased Weight or Volume:
  • Heavier Products: If you start storing products that are heavier than what your current racking was designed for, it will be overloaded. This can lead to bending, warping, or even collapse of the racking system, posing a safety hazard and damaging your inventory. Upgrading to a higher capacity system with thicker beams and stronger uprights becomes necessary.
  • Bulkier Products: A shift towards storing bulkier items will also require an upgrade. For example, if you move from storing boxes to large furniture pieces, your current pallet rack system might not be tall enough or have sufficient clearance between levels. Upgrading to wider bays or taller racks with appropriate weight capacity becomes crucial.

Shifting Product Sizes and Shapes:
  • Non-Standard Pallets: If you switch to using non-standard pallets, your current racking system might not be compatible. The size and spacing of the beams might not accommodate the larger or oddly shaped pallets. Upgrading to adjustable racking systems with beams that can be repositioned at different heights allows for better customization.
  • Greater Variety of Products: An increase in the variety of products you store can lead to inefficiencies with your current racking. For instance, a mix of small and large items on the same shelves makes it difficult to utilize space effectively. Upgrading to a combination system with pallet racks for bulky items and shelving with adjustable compartments for smaller goods can optimize space and picking efficiency.

Evolving Needs for Accessibility:
  • Faster Picking: The rise of e-commerce often demands faster order fulfillment. If your current racking system makes it difficult to access frequently picked items quickly, it can slow down picking times. Upgrading to selective pallet rack systems with wider aisles and readily accessible pallets on each level improves picking efficiency.
  • Improved Inventory Management: Inventory changes might necessitate better organization and visibility of your stock. Shelving with clear bins or drawers can be helpful for smaller items, while cantilever racks provide easy access for storing long or oddly-shaped products. Upgrading your racking system to incorporate these features can enhance inventory control and picking accuracy.

When you understand how changes in your inventory impact your storage needs, you can proactively plan for an upgrade to a racking system that optimizes space utilization, improves picking efficiency, and ensures the safety of your workers and products.

JS Rack & Supply is based out of Estacada, OR with a secondary location in Ontario, OR. We are conveniently located for businesses and individuals in the Portland, OR, and Boise, 
ID areas, and we work nationwide. Call us at (503) 233-7791 or contact us online to discuss your warehouse racking needs.