Case study

Progressive pallet racking solutions: From deconstruction to reconstruction

Nov 20, 2023 | Pallet Racking, Uncategorized

When it comes to upgrading your pallet racking system, a complete overhaul is likely to be your first thought, but have you considered the gradual dismantle and rebuild approach?

Whilst replacing your entire pallet racking system all in one fell swoop does have its merits, there’s a compelling case to be made for the progressive dismantle and rebuild option. Section by section, new pallet racking components replace your existing ones until the full upgrade is completed safely and in a way that ensures all racking components are uniformed for each new section. When we consider the incremental process against the big bang approach, the journey towards an all-new system is leisured rather than hurried and this does allow for less complications, greater responsiveness, and better cost management. Here’s a closer look at how the progressive option can benefit your business operation:

Budget Friendliness – When compared to a full-scale upgrade in one go, the financial burden when replacing your pallet racking system section by section is greatly reduced. The cost of material, labour and potential downtime is broken into smaller sums which are payable as and when the work is carried out rather than one large upfront cost, making this a budget-friendly alternative.

Minimised Operational Disruption – When completing the upgrade in phases, the works will be focussed on a single section of the warehouse at a time which means an appropriate level of operational continuity can be maintained and any downtime would be minimal, when compared to the potential disruptions when replacing the entire racking system at once.

Flexibility to Adapt – A gradual upgrade allows for more flexibility, as it enables you to stay in line with changing demands as you progressively change your system. Responding to demand shifts is noticeably less challenging when you can move away from a rigid design and amend areas in accordance to changing needs.

Risk Mitigation – Stumbling across unexpected issues during a full dismantle and rebuild can put the completion date back as extra time is needed to rectify those issues. A gradual upgrade allows time for detecting issues and solving them without the entire operation coming to a halt.

Sustainable Practices – A gradual approach allows you to prioritise the areas in most need of improvements which enables you to use existing components for longer in areas where the set-up still delivers adequate efficiency.

Minimal Effect on Inventory Management – When upgrading your pallet racking system, there is numerous things to consider, and finding temporary alternative inventory storage is one of them. When undertaking the upgrade section by section the volume of inventory effected at each phase is smaller and therefore the task of relocating inventory to alternative storage is much less complex and costly than relocating all inventory in the warehouse at once.

Little Impact on the Workforce – With works being carried out one section a time, this will allow the rest of the warehouse to remain unaffected and this means the operatives can continue with their activities as normal or with very little amendments to their routine. The gradual transition allows for a steady familiarisation with the new system and training can be carried out progressively and in small groups.

Single Row of Racking

How to undertake a gradual dismantle and rebuild

Careful planning is essential to any pallet racking upgrade project, however in the progressive realm there’s the added benefit of adaptability and flexibility. Each completed phase can be used to inform the next, allowing plans for the subsequent phase to be altered appropriately, mitigating potential issues that may have arisen during previous phases. Additionally, a review of plans phase by phase allows for late adaptions that can improve the systems ability to meet further demands which may have emerged.

Whilst the battle plan with a full upgrade in one go is more comprehensive with much to consider all at once, the progressive option still requires a thorough assessment to get the project off to a positive start. The initial determinations include:

  • Your current and anticipated storage needs – Here you should consider what is working well and what isn’t so you can plan an upgrade that will make your goals achievable.
  • Areas of prioritisation – It’s important to establish the areas which are in the most need of improvements so you can ensure phases take a precedence sequence.

Plan and design:

Whilst plans for a progressive pallet racking upgrade can be optimised at each phase, creating an initial plan and design provides a solid vision and applies strategy to the project. Your plan should include the following:

  • Phases to outline the order in which each section will be dismantled and rebuilt.
  • A layout plan which incorporates the pallet dimensions and load bearing of the new system
  • Notes of potential changes that may need to be addressed as the build progresses.

Team planning session for a new racking upgrade

Set out procedures for inventory management:

The storage and management of inventory during the build will suffer a degree of disruption, however the progressive approach means that a smaller volume will suffer disruption at one time, making them much more manageable. This can be further improved when temporary inventory management plans are in place. Here are a few tips that will help descale the disruption to inventory storage and management:

  • Categorise inventory and plan temporary storage to ensure it can be accessed during the rebuild.
  • Brief staff ahead of the project, making them aware of the temporary storage changes to ensure they can easily locate the goods during the project.

Implement Safety Measures:

A phased dismantle and rebuild is concentrated on one area within the warehouse at any one time which allows a continued operation in the rest of the warehouse, however the risk of incidents occurring must be minimised through safety measures. It’s important to ensure the well-being of staff whilst maintain the integrity of the operation. You can do this by:

  • Identify potential hazards associated with the process of dismantling and rebuilding sections by carrying out a thorough risk assessment.
  • Ensuring safe passageways for pedestrians and vehicles during the rebuild by sectioning off the area and creating safe routes, zones and emergency exits.
  • Acquiring the services of a professional designer and installer to ensure the project is carried out to industry standards and manufacturers guidelines.


Its important to create a collaborative and informed environment if the progressive rebuild is to be carried out successfully without oversights or safety issues. Effective communication with the following stakeholders is vital:

  • All warehouse personnel: Each staff member should be made aware of the process and of their own responsibilities throughout the project. Keeping everyone on the same page through effective communication will contribute towards a successful project whilst promoting safety.
  • Customers: Make customers and suppliers aware of the scheduled rebuilding work so they can be aware of potential delays which with help maintain expectations and good relationships.
  • Safety personnel: With a full understating of the project, safety personnel can develop a proactive approach to preventing accidents through though risk and mitigation strategies.

Single row of new racks

Dismantling and Rebuilding a Pallet Racking System

The dismantle and rebuild of each pallet racking section should be carried out skilfully and to safety protocols. A professional team with the correct PPE and equipment is advisable to ensure the project is carried out safely and effectively with all necessary guidelines followed. The process can begin once the area is secured, and all inventory has been removed from the racks.

Outlining the stages of a pallet racking dismantle and rebuild:

  • Remove accessories.
  • Remove Beams and drop uprights.
  • Stack and band the components.
  • Clear the area.
  • Prepare new components.
  • Build and align racking to new layout.
  • Labelling
  • Post installation check
  • Handover to customer.

Construction of racking section

What motivates a pallet racking upgrade?

Completing a pallet racking upgrade over a longer period is certainly a smart move, but, what’s driving businesses to rethink their pallet racking systems and set-ups?

  • Staying ahead of the obsolescence curve – When a pallet racking system becomes a ‘legacy product’ the gradual upgrade is an extremely viable option. Pallet racking obsolescence doesn’t take away the efficiency of the racking system, it just means that over time replacement components are likely to become more difficult to source, so rather than the cost and upheaval of a full replacement of a perfectly efficient system, a gradual replacement, with focus on the problematic areas first will prevent a situation where lack of components can put the system out of working order.
  • Struggling to handle new inventory demands – The world beyond the warehouse itself is highly influential on the operation within the four walls. New ways of purchasing and changing customer demands and expectations to name a few of them. A demand surge can leave a warehouse overwhelmed by higher inventory volumes and not enough storage. Upgrading to a new system with increased capacity is one solution, and taking the progressive approach means that areas struggling the most under newer demands can be targeted first. As the upgrade progresses it can be adapted to support further changes as and when they happen.
  • Operational needs are not being met – It could be that your current system no longer supports inventory characteristics and the operation now requires the support of a First-in First-out (FIFO) system which is a great way to save time and money when handling perishable goods!
  • Safety concerns – As an absolute priority for any warehouse operations, workplace safety should never be compromised. If the system is deemed safe apart from a section or two, an upgrade of those sections is a perfectly viable solution, rather than replacing the full system in one go. The rest of the system can be upgraded over time.
  • Old system looks a bit tired – An old, tired looking pallet racking system can be transformed gradually with a progressive dismantle and rebuild. If your pallet racking system has lasted you many, many years, despite its now tired look, if still perfectly safe, there’s no need to hurry the process. Bit by bit the system loses its old look and is progressively replaced by a shiny new system.

Is taking it step-by-step the most suitable route for you?

Rather like turning a dial instead of flipping a switch, the progressive approach makes perfect sense to any operation with specific pain points that need to be addressed first. It’s a smart move which doesn’t warrant a whole system shutdown, a large upfront cost or huge disruption.

If you’re considering a pallet racking upgrade, take it at your pace with the WSL team, whether you’re considering the progressive approach or the full upgrade in one go! Or maybe you are unsure of which approach to take? We have an expert team who will take the time to understand your current set-up, operational needs, current requirements, and future goals to help you find the pace that suits your individual needs. Whatever the pace, the very highest quality and safety standards will be upheld throughout which is something we can guarantee as a Full SEMA Member. Download our latest certificate: SEMA 2024

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