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Pallet Racking Safety – Earthquakes and Pallet Racks

By August 3, 2015No Comments

Pallet Racking Safety

Recent events in the news have highlighted the need for better quality warehouse equipment, for the sake of pallet racking safety. Christchurch NZ was hit with catastrophic earthquakes and aftershocks through late 2010 to early 2011, causing many deaths and massive destruction of buildings and infrastructure.  In contrast, there was little damage reported from the recent magnitude 5.7 Earthquake off the Queensland Fraser Island coast.  

What wasn’t reported in the general media following the 2011 NZ natural event was the total collapse of many pallet racking installations in and around the earthquake zone.

‘total collapse of many pallet racking installations’

Also, not reported to the public, and not known to many warehouse operators, is that some of the major warehouse and Distribution Centre (DC) operators in NZ had promptly contacted Dematic in Belrose NSW to ask for their urgent assistance.

Why was this?  It was because those large DC operators had a brand-mix of Pallet Racking installed throughout their DC facilities, and they had quickly discovered that the one and only brand of Pallet Racking which did not collapse was COLBY RACK.  The Colby rack brand is owned by Dematic and is manufactured by Dematic at their Belrose, NSW factory. In the interests of pallet racking safety and protection against future warehousing accidents,  the call was placed to Dematic requesting their urgent attention in replacing the failed rack brands with the Colby rack brand, now proven to have the superior design qualities which will continue to perform under the most testing occurrences, while others fail.  Read more…

Is Brisbane and its surrounds now more vulnerable to catastrophic earthquakes?  Who knows?  What we at Elbowroom do know is that there are many rack collapses which occur in and around South East Queensland which go unreported.  Many of which are caused by local impact or damage from forklifts, which often cause only localised damage to the racks.  However, we also have knowledge of a much more serious issue with total rack collapse, where racks around and adjoined to the impact zone (localised rack damaged by forklift impact) should have remained standing but did not.  This can occur and is more likely when rack structures are not designed to Australian/New Zealand Standards.

Were the rack structures which had collapsed in New Zealand designed to the AS/NZ standards for rack design?  Most likely not!  While Dematic have conducted many appropriate tests on their own Colby rack – including Earthquake testing – they also occasionally perform tests on other rack brands.  Many of those tests undertaken on other brands claiming to be compliant to AS/NZ standards have proven to have failed in conforming tests well below the stated load capacities and requirements of AS/NZ.

Why should you care when the supplier has stated that their rack “meets the standards”?  Perhaps you should at least be diligent in your assessment of a rack supplier who is engaged by you, and therefor endorsed by you to provide and install a racking structure on your premises, carrying many tonnes of product belong to you or your customers, over the heads of your employees or others.  Do you think that’s a bit heavy? – no pun intended.   I don’t think so.

How do you know you are being told the truth?  Challenge your supplier to provide the proof.  Most of the cowboys will not be able to provide you with an engineering report on your rack structure.

‘Challenge your supplier to provide the proof’

You should be wary of a potential supplier making a simple statement either verbally or in writing claiming that their rack “meets the (or Australian) standards”.  Its actual not “their” rack that should meet the standards – its “yours”.  That is to say, a rack component in itself does not “meet” the standards.  It is the ‘installedrack structure which is required to meet the standards.  So the pallet rack structure which has been designed and proposed for your application should be a certified rack structure design.  Elbowroom supplies this required design certification along with the final customer proposal and pricing.  We back our claim of compliance with a written and signed Engineer’s certificate specific to the Colby Selective Pallet Rack or Colby Drive-In Pallet Rack installation proposed for your use.

Click below to see a sample design certification which you should expect from your pallet rack supplier.  Remember, if they don’t supply a similar document of proof, then they probably can’t.

Sample Colby Pallet Rack Design Certificate

Click below to see our video on what can happen with inferior and non-conforming pallet rack installations.

Rack Collapse Video 

For professional advice concerning pallet racking safety, speak to the team at Elbowroom today.

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