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How To: Calculate Pallet Bay Height

A couple blog posts ago we talked about how long your beams need to be based on the pallet dimensions. This time, we’re going in the other direction and describing how to figure out how much room needs to be between beams for the loads.

Along with that, I’ll also cover using this information to find the right height for the frames.

There are four elements that are used in calculating how much room you need between beam levels:


  • Pallet Height.  Usually five inches but because pallets are not precision manufactured, leave yourself wiggle-room of about an inch here.
  • Load Height:  Self-explanatory.
  • Lift Off Clearance: The extra space above the pallet load that allows it to be loaded and unloaded without damage.  Usually at least six inches.
  • Beam Height:  Because selective rack shelf levels are measured from top-of-beam (or floor) to top-of-beam, this needs to be included.

For example, using a pallet height of 6 inches, a load height of 44 inches, 6″ of lift-off clearance and a 4 inch high beam, we get the following

6 + 44 + 6 + 4 = 60

So assuming the first level is a floor load, our first beam elevation is at 60 inches.  Once we have this number it’s a simple step to get to our second beam level at 120″ and a third at 180″, giving us four levels of vertical storage.


Upright Frame Height

It seems fairly obvious that you can arrive at the frame height using the numbers above, but while the upright is only required to be as high as the top beam level, it’s considered a best practice to add another 12″ of frame height beyond the top beam.  This is helpful because it provides some flexibility to adjust the beam levels in the future, it helps prevent loads from falling off the top shelf at the end-of-row, and it’s also a helpful guide for lift truck drivers when they are loading the top shelf.  Another thing to bear in mind is if your first load isn’t a floor load, you’ll need to include the distance from the floor to the bottom beam in your calculations.

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