Observation and Prevention

A client requiring a solution to prevent unnecessary racking upright replacement and costly repair bills. The findings within the inspection report highlighted one particular area of the warehouse that had a considerable amount of repetitive damage to pallet racking upright sections at low level. This was a typical high activity ‘goods-in’ area used to distribute products using a counterbalance forklift truck. Within these high processing areas, forklift drivers are often under pressure to operate at faster rates.

This is a common scene throughout the storage and distribution industry and a number of issues were highlighted following the inspection as the cause to the excessive racking upright damage. The cause of damage appeared to be for a number of reasons, however in most cases, speed was a factor.

Particularly when operators were:

1. Unloading deliveries directly or immediately into the racking.
2. Block stacking pallets directly up to, or in front of upright sections with little care.
3. Block stacking pallets near to upright sections and then shunting the next pallet into the previous pallet, thus causing damage.

With the above issues raised, there was a need for change to operating procedures in this particular area.

Repetitive damage is often due to no regular documented checks or system in place. Recommendations were made to improve driver awareness. As in the majority of cases, a lack of awareness is the main reason rather than ignorance, responsibility or care.

Regular monitoring was implemented and any further damage was recorded.

Incorporating new bulk stacking lanes away from racking helped to reduce the risk further by avoiding loading directly into or generally bulk stacking too close to the racking.

With the recommendations in place, we also looked to improve the storage system to provide a more “fail safe” solution and in the long term save cost for unnecessary repairs. To protect racking upright sections, steel upright guards were installed to all locations within the affected area. These were 300mm high and were bolted directly to the floor slab, each with four fixings.

By implementing changes to the initial distribution of pallets and improving operator awareness, damage to upright sections within the goods-in area have been dramatically reduced. With the added benefit of the installation of steel upright protectors, the risk of damage has been reduced even further.

The savings from avoiding a similar repair bill the following year, would cover the cost of the racking protection not just for the following year but for many years to come, saving money long term. Continuous replacement of racking upright components were no longer a burden for the client. Operatives were more forthcoming to report damage as it was also less frequent.

On the whole, the new procedures and preventative measures have resulted in a much safer system and warehouse environment.