Case study

Uniform Pallet Racking Components: Why Manufacturer Consistency Matters

Feb 6, 2024 | Pallet Racking, Uncategorized

When it comes to pallet racking, attempting to merge two contrasting brands, even if they appear compatible, is not a safe approach. Combining them into a single structure is ill-advised based on the increased likelihood of a collapse.

For many racking owners, swapping a damaged beam or expanding an existing set-up using components made by a different manufacturer might not appear significant. It might even seem like a good idea if sticking with the same brand will cost more or the components are more difficult to source, which is a common problem when dealing with obsolete products. Nevertheless, once the foreign beam is in operation, it compromises the overall safety of the structure.

WSL technical expert Tim SmithTechIOSH, advises against the temptation of utilising components from various manufacturers and strongly encourages avoiding such practices. He cautioned “although it may appear to save time and money, the subsequent costs of a safety incident are likely to be significant in the long term.”

Early stages of racking installation

Pallet Racking Components are Manufacturer Specific.

At first glance, pallet racking may appear consistently the same from one warehouse to the next, however a closer inspection reveals distinctive characteristics specific to each manufacturer. The more obvious indicators might be the different colour tones and dimensions, but also pay attention to the shape and size of the grooves running along the frames. Components made by a specific manufacturer are designed to work together in a particular manner, which is why the frame grooves are shaped to accept the associated beam only. If you forcefully connect two different brands, it undermines the original strength, quality, and purpose of the structure. When you factor in variations in manufacturing processes, steel types or grades, lengths, and the unique locking systems of different brands used to connect components, the danger of brand mixing becomes apparent. You can explore signs suggesting that your pallet racking may be mismatched later in this article, but first, let’s examine the consequences that may arise from such inconsistencies in this article……

The implications of incompatibility

Component compatibility is essential for the proper functioning, safety, and longevity of pallet racking systems. It is a foundational consideration that ensures the integrity of the structure and contributes to the overall efficiency of the storage solution. When integrating pallet racking components from various manufacturers into a single system, they are less likely to seamlessly work together. This can lead to issues including:

Unseen damage – Merely fitting components together doesn’t guarantee safety. Combining pallet racking components from different manufacturers into a single structure is a risky decision, particularly when considering the anticipated weight, it must bear. Additionally, the potential danger escalates when employees are required to navigate and work within such a structure.

Clive Fawthrop has been a Project Manager at WSL since 1995 and he warns “the harm resulting from forcing the integration of components from different manufacturers often becomes evident when it’s too late.”

Failure to adhere to regulations and standards – Employers are required to guarantee the safety of workplace equipment to mitigate unnecessary risks to employees as per the PUWER98. The probability of non-compliance rises when using a pallet racking structure composed of components that were not originally designed to be compatible. Moreover, according to CDM 2015, it is asserted that procurement chain responsibilities lie with the project owner when implementing a new pallet racking system. Therefore, it is imperative to obtain manufacturer information from your supplier. This precaution is crucial as, in the event of any incidents arising from mismatched components, “I didn’t know” would not be considered an acceptable explanation. Like any construction undertaking, the assembly of pallet racking must adhere to industry standards, underscoring the significance of aligning with the manufacturer’s instructions. Nevertheless, blending different brands is likely to complicate this process, underscoring the crucial need to assign such projects to a SEMA-accredited provider.

WSL Full SEMA Member latest certificate

Challenged insurance reliability – Insurance providers anticipate adherence to industry standards and regulations, and it is customary to expect a pallet racking system to meet structural safety requirements. In the event of a collapse or significant incident, a subsequent investigation which discovers mismatched components having been forced together is likely to hinder the chance of a successful claim. This is an important consideration to be mindful of.

Warehouse owner in warehouse checking insurance

Complications when adjusting or reconfiguration – Should your racking structure consist of components from diverse sources and you need an extension, adjustment, or reconfiguration, a reputable provider would not simply modify the existing system. Instead, they would identify issues within the current system and recommend alternative solutions which would utilise components from the same manufacturer throughout.

Hindered capacity – Manufacturers cannot anticipate the compatibility of their system with components from another manufacturer. Therefore, relying on the stated capacity becomes unreliable when combining components from different sources. If components are forced into connection rather than a designed seamless fit for stability, there is a risk that the forced connection may weaken, particularly as the structure bears the weight of the pallets.

A real-world example of incompatible pallet racking

While the incompatibility of the beam and frame in this image might not be immediately apparent, it’s important to note that these components were manufactured by different companies. This means they are intended to seamlessly integrate only with parts from the same manufacturer’s range, and not each other. This forced connection was discovered by a WSL racking inspector who advised that the likelihood of this system collapsing was significantly increased, and that using these components together is a dangerous act. He said “Unsafe mixing and matching of incompatible components from different manufactures is often found to be the cause of pallet racking structural failures, which is avoidable through adherence to manufacturer specifications and guidelines. This ensures the compatibility and integrity of the entire system”.

NEVER Use Pallet Racking Components from Different Manufacturers! (1)

Is your pallet racking system from a single manufacturer?  

If you are worried that your pallet racking system comprises of components from various manufacturers, here are some unmistakable indicators to look out for:

  • Inconsistent design features: Variances in design, such as upright dimensions, grooves or connecting mechanisms, are obvious signs that the parts were not made to fit together.
  • Divergent labels – Components from varying manufacturers are likely present if your seeing different product codes, logos or other identification marks.
  • Mismatched hardware – Differences in fixings such as the bolts, nuts and beam locks used to secure the structure into place can mean they came from different sources.
  • Disproportionate wear – If there are inconsistencies in signs of usage or aging across the structure, it may indicate that components were produced by different manufacturers.
  • Structural challenges – Do components look like they are misaligned and difficult to rectify? If so, it could be that they are not designed to work together.

Still not sure? Seek a professional racking inspection.

WSL offer professional pallet racking inspections during which components from different manufacturers are prone to detection. Our inspectors possess the expertise and experience to detect discrepancies, inconsistencies, and potential safety hazards associated with the pallet racking system. Their knowledge enables them to evaluate compatibility, structural integrity, and adherence to industry standards, offering valuable insights into the overall safety and functionality of the system.

Racking being professionally inspected

Call 0113 2045350 today and ask to speak to Jo, our rack inspection coordinator! or email sales@wslmail.co.uk

 

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