Steel pallet racking has been designed as a storage solution for warehouses which store pallets. There are many options to choose from with regards to the structure of your storage solution and access to the pallets. For example, there are solutions for narrow access and double deep metal pallet racking.
How Earthquakes Impact Pallet Racking Systems
Earthquakes can cause considerable damage not only to pallet racking but the stability of the pallets themselves. Using non-earthquake resistant pallet racking can result in the total collapse of your pallet racking system during an earthquake, which is not only costly and damaging to stock but extremely dangerous for anyone in the vicinity. Seismic activity resulting in ground acceleration causes a significant increase in the horizontal loading of a racking system. This results in a swaying to and fro of the beams and the racks, while the pallets and stored products move with the ground activity. The combination of these movements results in uplift forces which act on the system’s uprights, forcing them to begin lifting the baseplates free of the anchors which were securing them to the floor.
Installed racking structures are required to meet Australian Standards (it is not enough to claim the uninstalled product meets Standards). The Australian Standard for this, called the Steel Storage Racking Standard, is AS4084-2012. Please note that this Standard only applies to closed-faced racking systems. Open-faced racks must seek reference to relevant International Standards. AS4084-2012 has a normative reference to AS1170.4-2007 Structural Design Actions – Earthquake Actions in Australia. This Australian Standard details the requirements for designing structures which are subject to earthquakes.
Some companies opt for down-aisle bracing on the racking, which is horizontal and vertical bracing that secure the racking and limit longitudinal movement. Unfortunately, the positioning of this bracing places it in the likelihood of being damaged during general use when pallets are being put onto the racks. Damage to the bracing greatly reduces its success in stabilising longitudinal movement.
Instead, some like Colby Dandenong’s racking systems are made with increased size of the standard upright and beam system in combination with the use of chemical anchors and specially designed seismic baseplates. Seismic baseplates have been instrumental in the construction of earthquake resistant steel pallet racking systems.
Because of the 2010 Christchurch earthquakes, some companies have sought improved solutions to provide to their clients for a safer outcome in the case of an earthquake. One such solution is the Pellegrino Base Isolation Unit. It was designed in 2011, to fit new and existing pallet rack systems. The unit is designed to be anchored to the floor under the upright frame, between the columns. The purpose of the isolator is to let the rack move crosswise, about the floor in the presence of seismic activity. The resulting effect is as much as an 85% dispersal of the energy exerted on the rack during seismic activity, which is significant. Another important factor in the technology is that it is a one-off expense and can be moved whenever your racking is being repaired, updated or moved.
Maintenance for Continued Safety
If you already have metal pallet racking installed and are unsure as to whether it complies with Australian Standards, it is a good idea to have it professionally inspected. There are several Australian companies qualified to inspect metal pallet racking. As the owner of a pallet racking system, it is also recommended that you schedule an annual audit for the inspection of your racking system to ensure no damage has occurred which is placing your warehouse at a safety risk. Existing damage to a pallet system’s uprights and beams is a significant factor in whether a system is likely to collapse. Therefore, the regular inspections and maintenance are extremely important. It could be the difference between whether your system suffers total collapse or remains in place in the event of an earthquake.
Why Invest in Earthquake Resistant Solutions?
It is highly recommended that any industry requiring the use of pallet storage off the ground invest in earthquake resistant solutions. It isn’t worth the chance that in the event of an earthquake your product will be destroyed, your pallet racking could be very damaged requiring either repairs or replacement and your employees and contractors could be at risk of severe injury. If your pallet racking collapses, other equipment in your warehouse is also at risk of damage, such as forklifts. The cost of implementing an earthquake resistant solution is usually a one-off expense, and much lighter than the alternative of paying for all the damage you could see in the event of an earthquake.