Shining a Light on Rack Selection

Shining a Light on Rack Selection

Member-owned public utility cooperative consolidates operations into warehouse with forklift resistant rack


Even before Clay Electric Cooperative sought to build a new warehouse to consolidate maintenance materials from various storage facilities into one location, the member-owned cooperative was determined to dramatically improve logistics, reliability and productivity.

The co-op had ongoing issues with forklifts running into and damaging the racking. In choosing value over price alone, the co-op was looking for the best long term solution.

“The co-op wanted to invest from day one in the proper safety gear to get the most life out of their equipment, since the value of their purchase and the safety of their operations are paramount,” says Buddy Chadwell, President of Kardex Storage, a material handling distributor in Florida.

Because the new warehouse would not require high-volume traffic the racking had to be capable of withstanding unavoidable accidents with minimal maintenance.

In such cases, increasing rack resistance to impact can improve safety and operations while reducing the total cost of ownership including repair and premature replacement.

“A typical rack that uses three sided upright columns with an open back, called open back roll form rack, is more susceptible to potential accidents by operators lifting a load too high and backing out,” says Chadwell.  “This can place twisting, torsional loads on the rack that can shorten its lifespan and even lead to it tipping over.”

Chadwell conferred with Steel King Industries, a national manufacturer of storage rack and material handling products, whose engineers reviewed the co-op’s warehouse layout and blueprint.

The engineers recommended a tubular upright rack product, with a robust four-sided column structure that offers a more suitable choice at a similar price point.

Compared to open back roll formed columns, the closed tubular uprights are 44 times more torsion/twist resistant, with 250% greater frontal impact resistance and 68% greater side impact resistance.  All beams are constructed of high-strength (55,000 p.s.i. minimum) steel, and holes are placed on the column’s face, not the corners, minimizing strength loss.

“The tubular rack is much more resistant to rack movement and twisting than open back channel designs,” says Chadwell.  “This translates into a much longer usable lifespan and more operational uptime with minimal maintenance.”

To make its storage racking system even more impact resistant, Clay Electric also implemented an innovative, adjustable, boltless rack column protector, called Snap-Guard, which safeguards the upright rack column from forklift damage.

“Instead of a typical bolt-on design, the snap on protector snaps into the rack’s tear-drop holes, which makes it very easy to install and adjust,” says Chadwell.

Since a rack upright’s first 6” to 12” of column from the floor is also prone to fork truck impact, particularly at end rows and intersections where maneuvering is tight, Kardex Storage also recommended and installed Guard Dawg guard rail rack protection.

When buying from an integrated manufacturer like Steel King, it is all engineered to work together, with one company taking full responsibility if support is ever needed.

As for the end result, Chadwell says, “The closed tubular selective rack, with its accompanying guardrail and column protection, is designed to last decades longer than typical open back rack, with less maintenance and more uptime.”

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