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November 05, 2017

Why Even a Little Column Damage on Your Pallet Racking is a Big Deal

Your pallet racking is responsible for most of your warehouse’s main function: storage. It’s easy to take pallet racking for granted when you work around it every day, but it really is the skeletal system of the warehouse environment and without it, you certainly wouldn’t be able to function as well as you do. That’s why it’s important to take care of it. Caring for your pallet racking can include doing things such as:

  • Keeping it clean and organized
  • Inspecting it regularly
  • Repairing damage as soon as possible

That last item on the list can prove to be a tricky one in certain circumstances; after all, how much damage is too much damage? If you can’t see the damage, does it really count? And if the racking still seems to be sturdy, can you ignore it?

The truth is even a small amount of damage to your pallet racking, especially to the upright supports and columns, can cause big problems for you in the future. While most pallet racks are reliable, when the columns of your racks are damaged even slightly you run the risk of your pallet racks collapsing.

The Big Impact of Collapsing Racking

This is every warehouse manager’s nightmare. A racking collapse can impact your warehouse in a lot of different ways:

  • Additional expenses. It’s going to cost you to clean up the mess that’s left behind after a racking collapse. You’ll end up damaging out a lot of inventory, paying workers overtime to get the mess cleaned up, and you’ll need to invest in new, undamaged pallet racking. And that’s just the beginning. A racking collapse can lead to lost business and productivity, both of which will have a big impact on your bottom line. And worst of all, if workers are injured during the collapse, you’ll be facing worker’s compensation claims and potentially even a lawsuit.
  • Lost time. Time is money, especially in business. A racking collapse can put you behind schedule for days and potentially even weeks or longer, depending on the severity of the collapse and how much inventory you lose afterward. Instead of fulfilling orders and getting them out the door, your team is going to be focused on cleaning up, and that’s not going to make you any money.
  • Risk of injuries. This is the worst part of a racking collapse. Your employees could be injured, sometimes in life-changing ways, and there are numerous instances of workers being killed in a collapse. Not only do you have an obligation to create a safe environment for your team, this could badly damage the reputation of your company for years to come. Injuries come with big price tags, too, including worker’s compensation claims, lawsuits, the cost of replacing injured workers, and the damage to morale among the rest of your team.

How to Protect Your Uprights

There are a number of safety measures you can take to help prevent damage to the columns of your racks from forklifts. There are some safety measures that are required by OSHA and some that are voluntary, but warehouses try to skip on purchasing these items in order to save some money in the budget will quickly regret that choice. Options for rack protection include:

  • Corner guards
  • Floor mounted barriers
  • Bollard post covers
  • Column guards
  • End-of-aisle rack guards

The main function of any of these pieces of safety equipment is to prevent your forklift or other machinery from accidentally backing into the frame of the pallet rack. This is the most common cause of pallet racking damage. Even if you don’t have forklifts in operation within your warehouse, though, you should consider putting this safety equipment in place. Even a wayward hand truck could end up damaging your pallet racks. If you aren’t sure which options are right for your warehouse, a DAK project manager can help you determine which equipment is necessary to keep your warehouse equipment and your team safe.

How Much Damage is Too Much Damage?

Even a small amount of column damage can turn into a big issue. That’s because any structural damage can cause the entire rack to collapse. As a general rule, if your columns have suffered more than a ½” of deflection, you’ll want to replace them right away. That small amount of damage can be hard to see with the naked eye, which is another reason that consistent and thorough inspections of your warehouse are done on a regular basis.

For a simple way to determine any deflection, hold a straightedge such as a yardstick up to the column and measure the gaps between the column and the straightedge. If you measure greater than a ½”, it’s time to call DAK Equipment & Engineering. That indicates that the column supports have been compromised and the entire structure of the pallet rack has been weakened.

How DAK Equipment Can Help

We offer a few options for rack repair. First, we can attempt to repair the rack, saving you the cost of replacement. Unfortunately, this isn’t always an option, so we can also replace the parts and pieces that are putting your pallet racks in danger. Once we’ve repaired the damage, we’ll make sure you have the upright protection that will prevent similar damage in the future. Over the lifetime of your warehouse, this could end up saving you thousands in repair and replacement costs.

Get In Touch with Us Today

Give DAK Equipment a call today and make an appointment with us for rack repair or a facility inspection. You can also put in an order through our online store for upright protection. Whatever you need to make your facility safe and keep your pallet racks in good shape, DAK has it! Our project managers are ready to get to work on finding you the racking and safety equipment you need or arranging for the repair or installation team required. Our job is to help you make your warehouse safer and more productive, so get in touch with us today so we can get to work!

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October 30, 2017

Back to Basics: Pallet Safety

Safety is priority number one in any good warehouse. Even tasks that seem relatively simple, such as moving pallets, could be dangerous if done incorrectly. Moving big loads of pallets around on pallet racks can be dangerous if your team isn’t following strict safety guidelines, and pallets themselves can pose a lot of risks for those who work around them every day. Make sure your teams are following safety guidelines every time they interact with pallets and retrain them often on pallet safety.

Tips for Safely Interacting with Pallets in Your Warehouse

  • Guard against splinters and nails. Pallets are made from inexpensive wood and aren’t meant to last forever. Make sure you wear gloves and avoid walking on pallets to keep splinters and nails out of your hands and feet.
  • Don’t throw pallets. Not only will this damage the pallet and shorten its lifespan, it can create debris which can harm fellow coworkers. Instead, slide the pallet or use a forklift to create stacks.
  • Inspect pallets before use. If a pallet is damaged, don’t try to use it–send it for recycling. Only sturdy pallets should be used on your pallet rack. Take extra precautions with pallets that will be going high up on your pallet rack.
  • Don’t stand on pallets. Sure, pallets are designs to handle heavy loads of merchandise, but they are only designed to do it when the weight is evenly distributed across the surface of the pallet. When you stand on them, you are putting all of your weight on a localized area of the pallet and risk damaging the pallet and hurting yourself if it breaks.
  • Store pallets flat, not on their end. This can weaken the structure of the pallet and increase the risk that they’ll break when you load them with inventory. Storing them on their end also puts them at risk of tipping over and hurting someone. Don’t stack pallets more than four feet high, though.
  • Clean up any splinters or broken wood from pallets often. It’s inevitable that the occasional pallet is going to break in your warehouse. When this happens, clean up any debris from the broken pallet as soon as possible. That debris could cause slips, trips, falls, or even embed itself in a worker’s leg or foot.
  • Use warehouse equipment like forklifts and pallet jacks to move pallets whenever you can. While it might seem faster to lift and move a pallet with your hands, you actually increase the risk of injury and damage to the pallet. Allowing machinery to do the heavy lifting for you and keep yourself and your fellow workers safe.
  • Clean your pallets once in a while, too, especially if you are handling perishable or consumable items. The wood of a pallet can be a harboring place for bacteria and germs. If you commonly handle food items, you might want to consider using plastic pallets. They may be a bigger investment up front, but they will last longer and be easier to disinfect.
  • Know the load capacity of your pallets and don’t go over it. It’s important to know the weight of your inventory, not only for pallet loading, but for loading your pallet racks as well.

When Should You Replace Pallets?

Pallets aren’t made to last forever. In fact, they have a fairly limited lifespan. This is, in part, what makes them so affordable. They are constructed out of inexpensive and untreated wood that will stand up to a good deal of weight but can splinter and crack relatively easily, especially as it gets older. Eventually, you are going to need to replace your pallets. Here are signs that it’s time to find a replacement.

Looking old doesn’t mean it’s not safe for use.

Most pallets are made of untreated wood. That means the wood that’s used is going to look older long before it’s treated counterparts. Don’t assume that just because the wood is gray or discolored that the pallet is too old for use. It may be much, much newer than you think.

Look for damage, splinters, and cracks.

The best method to determine whether or not a pallet is suitable for use is simply by examining it. Make it a practice to examine every pallet when you unload it to determine whether or not it’s going to be suitable for use again. Look for cracks in the wood, signs of distress around the joints, and chipped or splintered wood. If you spot any of these signs, it’s probably best to send that pallet off for recycling. After all, one of the great things about pallets is that they are cheap; you can replace them without worrying too much about the cost.

What Are Your Tips for Pallet Safety?

Do you have safety tips and guidelines that you utilize in your warehouse when it comes to pallets? We’d love to hear them! Comment on this blog or drop us an email through our website. We may use your safety tip in a future blog!

Use common sense when working with pallets and pallet racks and your team should enjoy a safe work environment. DAK Equipment understands that our pallet racks play an important role in warehouse safety, too. That’s why we offer high-quality pallet racks to Chicago-area businesses and beyond. Our pallet racks are made from top materials, and if you experience any damage, our team can come do the repair work for you. Give DAK Equipment a call today to learn more about our pallet racks installation and repair services.

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October 25, 2017

Racking Protection Keeps Your Investment Safe

You make investments in your warehouse every day. It might be weekly safety training meetings with your team, automation with a new conveyor system, or upgrading your pallet racking system. Whatever you invest into your warehouse needs to be protected. While sometimes that protection might be obvious, like maintaining your conveyors, in other instances the kind of protection that you need might not be as apparent. One area where our warehouse consultants often see a lack of protection is on the uprights of your pallet racking system. Many warehouses in the Illinois area seem to believe their racking systems are invincible and cannot be damaged because they don’t both installing the necessary warehouse equipment to keep it safe. This could end up costing their business a lot of money, time, and potentially even their customers.

Why Your Pallet Racking Needs Protection

You pallet racking takes a lot of abuse throughout the day, especially if forklifts, pallet jacks, and hand trucks are in use (as they are in most warehouse environments). All of this equipment can easily damage your pallet racking. A forklift operator could misjudge a turn and clip the end of a pallet rack, or they might not check their clearance and run into the upright of the racking system. While the visible damage that this causes might seem negligible to you, it could actually weaken the structure. This puts your warehouse in danger of experiencing a racking collapse, which could end up destroying your inventory and even seriously hurting your employees. Preventing this kind of damage is key to keeping your warehouse safe and ensuring the pallet racking you’ve purchased for your warehouse remains in good condition for as long as possible.

It’s important to speak with an experienced warehouse consultant to determine what protection you need for your racking system and then to get it properly installed.

How to Protect Your Racking

Upright Protection

One of the primary ways of protecting your pallet racking is with upright protection. The uprights of your pallet racking system are the vertical beams to which the shelving pieces are attached. There are two main types of upright protection: post protection and barriers at the end of the racks.

  • Column protection. This protection wraps around the upright posts of the racking system, usually providing some kind of cushioning that can take the impact of an accident with a forklift or other warehouse equipment.
  • End of rack barriers. These barriers sit at the end of a pallet racking aisle and prevent warehouse equipment from running into the end of the row. This sort of impact can seriously weaken the system and you may not notice the damage for a period of time.

Other Types of Pallet Racking Protection

The uprights aren’t the only piece of the racking system that should be protected. You should also consider installing pallet stops. These help forklift operators ensure that the pallets are positioned properly on the racking system to create an even weight load and are safely in place without hanging over the back of the racking.

An Ounce of Prevention…

While purchasing protection products for you pallet racking is a great way to help prevent accidents from causing damage, it’s even more effective to try to prevent those accidents from occurring in the first place. You can prevent accidents with your pallet racking from happening by:

  • Training your team early and often. Make sure your team members are aware of the dangers of pallet racking accidents and that they should report accidents immediately in order to prevent injuries and damages.
  • Sending forklift operators for additional training. The safest forklift operators are going to be the ones who have been through training again and again. Once is never enough, so invest in repeat training for your forklift operators.
  • Optimize your warehouse setup. A warehouse that has aisles that are too narrow or doesn’t have the appropriate storage space for its inventory is putting itself at risk for accidents and damage.

Taking steps to prevent damage can help your warehouse ultimately save a lot of time and money. You won’t have to worry about production stopping to repair a collapsed rack, nor will you incurr the costs that come with worker’s compensation claims. It truly is a case where an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

We Can Help You Protect Your Warehouse

 

DAK Equipment and Engineering in Chicago carries a variety of upright protection and other pallet protection devices so we can help you find the system that’s right for your warehouse. We carry upright post protectors which attach to your floor and surround the post of your racks, protecting them from buckling as well as run-ins with the forklift. We also carry upright protection for your pallet racks from WorldPro, which offers custom sizes, shapes, and designs in powder-coated yellow. Additionally, we offer snap-on upright protection that takes only seconds to install. We’ll make sure you have the protection you need while staying within your budget.

Our team will help you order the protection that you need to ensure both your pallet racks and your team stays safe. Give us a call at 855-863-0340 and we’ll get your order placed for the upright protection you need. Whatever it is you need to keep your warehouse looking its best and operating at peak efficiency, DAK has it! Place your order over the phone or online today.

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