Whether you’re putting new pallet racks into an old warehouse, used pallet racks into a new house, or any combination thereof, getting them professionally installed is an exciting day. It’s probably the only time they’ll be completely empty for years, and they hold so much potential in making your warehouse a more efficient place to work. Now it’s time to fill them up and get down to business!
But once they’re in, you can’t just think that they’re never going to need some maintenance. Yes, they might be huge pieces of metal that can handle tens of thousands of pounds, but they’re also susceptible to damage. Forklift damage, imperceptible earthquakes, and overloading can all take a toll on your pallet rack system, so it’s vitally important that you keep and eye on them for the sake of your employees and your inventory.
Know (and Follow) The Weight Capacity
When you have your pallet rack system installed, you don’t want to ignore all of the information you’ll be given on it. The installation experts will give you paperwork that tells you, among other things, how much weight you should put on it and how you should load each rack.
One of the most common ways that pallet racks are damaged is that they become overloaded. They might be made of incredibly strong steel, but even steel has its breaking point. Be aware of the weight limits, and make sure to pass that information to anyone who might be putting a load on them.
Check the Braces
When you do a visual inspection of you industrial pallet racks, be sure to check the braces for signs of warping. If a pallet rack is overloaded or if isn’t loaded evenly, it might start to buckle and shift to one side. That’s why you should always…
Have a Bubble Level On Hand
As a warehouse manager, it’s your responsibility to keep your pallet racks in the best possible condition. It’s also up to you to make sure that they’re not in any danger of collapse anytime soon. And eyeballing it isn’t enough.
A $10 level is all you need to put your mind at ease that the rack that looks like it might be leaning is actually okay. Inventory on the racking can cause optical illusions, making plumb pallet racks look unlevel and unlevel pallet racks look plumb. Just doing a periodic check with a bubble level can let you know if your eyes are playing tricks on you.
Look For Upright Damage
Yes, we know that you have a policy saying that absolutely every contact between forklifts and the pallet rack system has to be reported. You might have told forklift operators that they won’t get in trouble if they report it happening, or you might have threatened them with firing if they don’t. Maybe you have a no-questions-asked, completely-confidential policy.
They’re still not going to tell you every time.
No employee wants to admit they messed up, so while they might tell you about the first and second time they hit the pallet racks with the forklift this year, they’re not going to tell you about the third and fourth times they did so. They don’t want to be the one to get fired when review time comes around, so they’ll just drive away and hope no one finds out.
So, whether you hear about hits or not, you’ve got to go looking for them, especially on upright columns. While damage to horizontal shelving might not cause the whole thing to come down, damage to uprights might.
Be Aware Of Rust and Discoloration
If you’ve purchased new pallet racks, it’s unlikely that you’ll have to worry about rust for a very long time. But it’s still important to look for rust, because that means that something might be wrong with the warehouse itself. If you find rust, it’s likely that the warehouse has a leak and that you should do something about it. Not only will you be protecting the warehouse itself, but also the pallet rack and your inventory.
Make Sure Others Look For Damage
Once you know what you’re looking for, take a bit of time and have some training with your employees. No matter the size of your warehouse, you probably don’t want to be the only one to have their eyes looking for damage. The more people you have looking for damage to a pallet rack system, the greater chance a problem will be found.
You might even want to consider putting some reward system in place to encourage employees to report damage. A $50 gift card here and there could prevent tens of thousands of dollars in damage.
Get Regular Pallet Rack Inspection
A homeowner should keep an eye on the condition of their roof, but it’s always a good idea for them to have a professional get up there and inspect it up close every so often.
It’s the same with pallet racks. While you might do a good job at giving them a visual inspection, it’s very important for you to use a pallet rack inspection service in the Chicago area to come in and do a much more thorough inspection. Doing so protects your employees, and if something goes wrong then you can at least show OSHA that you had them inspected recently.
DAK Can Help!
At DAK Equipment and Engineering, we can handle it all. We’ll be your warehouse layout optimization experts, sell you the pallet racks, be your pallet rack installers, and perform the inspection on them for years to come. Just click here to learn more about our pallet rack preventive maintenance program. We’ll help keep you pallet racks in the best condition possible.