design is required to ensure the storage system provided
will meet all of the requirements,” he says.
As for what factors to consider, Domenick Iellimo, executive vice president of sales for the storage system manufacturer Frazier Industrial Co., says rack designs should take
into account three things: product/unit, handling method,
As for the first of these factors—the products being
stored on the rack—it’s not enough to simply look at the
items’ weight and dimensions and how the loads are configured and distributed on the rack, Iellimo warns. You also
have to take into account how fast your product turns. For
example, a produce warehouse that has a high inventory
turn rate will require a heavier-weight or more durable
racking system than a warehouse with a lower turn rate.
That’s because the added activity raises the probability of
Similarly, the design should take into account the material handling method being used. “What sometimes happens
is that companies are very focused on the unit being stored,
and there is not enough focus right up front on the interface between the material handling equipment being used
and the rack,” Iellimo says.
When this happens, Iellimo warns, you risk designing
a rack system with aisles or shelf clearances that are too
tight to accommodate the facilities’ forklift trucks or other
In addition to the considerations mentioned above, it’s
important to make sure the rack meets the seismic require-
ments of the area it is located in.
2Don’t adjust racks without consulting a qualified expert. It’s true that a rack is made of many different compo- nents—such as frames and beams and footplates—
that are put together like a giant Erector set. But once those
parts have been assembled and installed in a warehouse or
DC, it is crucial that you continue to use the rack as it was
originally designed. “It is so important to think of a rack
as a system,” says Steve Rogers, a vice president with the
storage system company Hannibal Industries.
Racking systems are now considered a building element
and as such, have to conform to very strict codes. That
means you should give the same thought and consideration to, say, removing or altering a beam as you would
to removing a wall or column in your distribution center.
“Any adjustment to the beam level affects the carrying
capacity of the frame and [could potentially] lead to collapse,” says Greeba Rampaul-Essue, president of Storage
Equipment Safety Service, a company that conducts rack
inspections and training. That is to say, if a beam is raised,
lowered, or removed, the rack may no longer be capable of
bearing the amount of weight it was designed to handle.
Similarly, Rampaul-Essue urges users to be careful when
mixing together components from different manufacturers. “One of the key things about a rack is the safety
lock that holds the beam in place; if that safety lock is not
properly engaged, then your beam is not properly held in
Is it safe to buy used rack?
Interest in used racking is on the rise, according to Jason
MonteMayer, project manager with enVista, a consulting
company that provides a liquidation service for used rack.
The trend is driven less by a desire to save money than by
pressure to get facilities up and running quickly, he says.
Typically, used rack can be purchased and installed faster
What should a buyer look for in a used rack system?
Factors to consider include the manufacturer, the age
of the system, its condition, what it was previously used
for, and whether it includes components from different
manufacturers (this could compromise the integrity of
the system). MonteMayer urges potential buyers to take
particular care when it comes to assessing the equip-
ment’s condition. “Companies can do a good job covering
up damage, so you want to have someone do an in-per-
son inspection or at least have good-quality pictures of
the equipment,” he says. “The best option is to have a
licensed professional engineer review the equipment and
the design to make sure the equipment meets all of your
If you’re purchasing the rack from a used-equipment
dealer, MonteMayer recommends checking on how the
equipment has been stored. “One concern is whether the
equipment has been sitting outside in the weather and if
rust is occurring.”
Not surprisingly, most rack manufacturers advise against
purchasing used rack. Domenick Iellimo from Frazier says
that even if you know who manufactured the rack and
how it was used, the equipment still might not be a good
fit for your operation. Iellimo tells of a customer that con-
tacted him because he was interested in purchasing a
used Frazier rack system. Because Frazier keeps complete
records for every rack it manufactures, Iellimo was able to
pull the original engineering file for that particular system.
The record revealed that the rack would not meet the
seismic requirements for the new location.
In addition, building codes governing racks have changed
greatly over the years. While existing rack is grandfathered
in, once the rack is moved to a new location, it must
comply with the new standards. As a result, even a rack
designed for exactly the same type of operation as your
own might no longer be up to code.