Warehouse racking suppliers – a buyer’s guide

Buying the best warehouse racking is vitally important for the efficient running of a warehouse.

The rapid increase in online retailing has created a large demand for warehouses. Companies like Amazon that sell exclusively online have grown rapidly, while existing high street retailers such as Tesco and John Lewis have enjoyed a large growth in the online side of their business.

Growth causes something of a conundrum though, in that businesses are faced with either locating to larger warehouses or reorganising their existing warehouses to cope with increased orders. Relocating is expensive, so it is better to be able to utilise existing space if this is possible. Sometimes, the solution is as simple as buying new warehouse racking systems and reviewing how goods are stored on the racks.

Racking components

There are three basic components of racking. Firstly, there are the rack frames that consist of the uprights and beams. Secondly, there is the decking with pallet support bars or wire decking. Lastly, there are the protective components that are designed to guard the rack frames against damage from forklift trucks and warehouse trolleys.

The vertical components

The vertical components are the frames and uprights that take the structural load and transfer it to the warehouse floor.

There are two calculations to use when considering the required strength of the vertical components – dead load is the weight of the racking system, and live load is the entire weight when goods are stored on the racks. Obviously, live load is the most important figure when choosing racking systems.

The uprights are the outer rack components and can range from 8 feet to 20 feet depending on the height of the warehouse. Aim to have racking that can be as high as possible. The depth of the rack from the front to the back can be between 36 inches and 48 inches. A 42-inch depth is the most popular because a standard 48-inch pallet can safely overhang the deck.

The horizontal components

The horizontal components are the beams. These take the weight of a loaded pallet and transfer it to the uprights. The longer the beam is, the thicker it has to be to hold the weight. Beams generally vary between 8 and 12 feet in length.

Pallet support

Pallet support bars are cross members that run between beams to uniformly support pallets. Instead of support bars, there are wire decks which provide both pallet support and act as nets to catch falling items.

Rack protectors

Rack protectors are essential safety devices that defend against forklift trucks and other material handling equipment collisions. These can be made from steel or plastic and are usually placed at floor level. Additional protectors can be placed at higher levels for more protection.

Live load levels

You need to choose racking systems that are able to exceed the live load level. It is better to use a racking system with a much greater load level than needed. For example, if you anticipate a 19,000lb live load, use racks with a 22,000lb to 24,000lb load rating. This will make sure that the racking is safe. Stock levels and items stored may change and the load level may increase.

Maximising space

After you have worked out the type of racking needed and the load levels, the next thing to consider when ordering a racking system is how to maximise space, especially vertical space. To maximise space, order racking that reaches near the roof. You may also have to upgrade your material handling and picking systems to be able to reach the higher locations.

Inventory placement

When planning a new racking system, you also need to look at how inventory is placed. You want pickers to travel as little as possible when locating items. High-demand stock should be stored near packing stations.

All items need to be clearly marked so that they can be identified easily. There are a number of systems that can guide workers to items using sound or visual signals. Automated systems can also plan the best picking routes that reduce how far pickers need to walk.

Worker safety

Investing in a good racking system can improve safety levels too. Protectors can prevent forklift trucks colliding into racks and causing items to fall off and hit workers. As far as possible, separate mechanised vehicles from walking workers.

A video that went viral on YouTube at the end of 2018 showed a forklift truck hitting racking and causing a domino like collapse of the whole warehouse racking system.

This was not so much the fault of the driver, but the inadequacy of the protective components. In all busy warehouses, there will be the occasional collisions between handling equipment and the racks.

Improved profits

New racking systems can make your warehouse more organised, efficient and safe. If items are located quickly and inventory is organised well, more items can be dispatched each day. The bottom line is that a business can increase its profits by sending out more orders without needing extra staff.

No need to do it yourself

Buying the best warehouse racking for your business can be very difficult. Fortunately, you do not have to do it all by yourself. A good warehouse rack supplier will be able to discuss your requirements and suggest system specifications suitable for your warehouse. They can supply racking that supports your live loads and create a plan for the best way to locate your warehouse racking.

A warehouse racking supplier that makes its own systems will be able to produce bespoke solutions for you if its standard racking systems are not the best fit for your needs.

Many warehouse racking suppliers also make heavy duty warehouse trolleys and packing tables. They will be able to supply a complete warehouse solution for storing, moving, picking and packing orders.

With the help of a warehouse racking system supplier, reorganising the warehouse to cope with increased sales is not difficult. Whether your goods are sold online, wholesale or business-to-business, racking systems can improve how your warehouse operates.

Posted by Katrina
30th January 2019
Retail & Warehousing

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