Bring on the (Pallet Rack) Reinforcements| Apex Safety Spotlight

Pallet Rack - Apex Warehouse Systems

Pallet rack is rated for capacity in two ways: beam capacity and upright capacity. Your frame and beams must be able to handle the load of a fully stocked system. Thus, your inventory is your main determinant of your pallet rack system design.

You may wonder why it wouldn’t be easier to just make a system able to handle the heaviest load and be done with it? The easy answer for that is… Cost. The cost to produce, ship and assemble a reinforced structural steel pallet rack system to be used to bear lighter weight inventory is an unnecessarily high capital expenditure. Conversely, an under-designed system poses a safety risk to personnel, inventory, equipment, order processing… etc. So, it’s important to take the time, know your materials and get it right.

That said, load capacity alone isn’t enough to dictate a pallet rack system design. Pallet weights and beam configurations, plus seismic requirements, equipment interface, as well as slab and soil conditions will impact the type of rack elements used to ensure that the system is safe, effective and compliant.

Let’s look at three common pallet rack reinforcement design features and why and when they are used:

  1. Upright column design
  2. Bracing
  3. Baseplates

Upright Column Designs

A reinforced column is essentially two columns welded together (front to back) to create a deeper column with more strength. Most of the time the reinforcement only goes up part of the upright height. This can help with capacity and resistance to damage from warehouse vehicles. The type and style of reinforcement can vary depending on the type of system and column you are using.

As you can see from the chart below, there are over 2 dozen column designs represented. Ten of those designed are marked specifically as “reinforced”. Another four are closed-tube types of columns which provide additional strength and capacity vs open tube.

Pallet Rack - Apex Warehouse Systems

Another option, again depending on the required weight-bearing capacity, could be to use larger  4” vs 3” columns to build the uprights. Note on the column chart above that there are several 4” column options.

The selection for your system will depend on the reason for the reinforcement and the capacity needs for your rack. In general, structural columns are considered more impact resistant and thefore are often recommended for fast-paced warehouse environments, such as cold storage, beverage, food handling, or other high-volume warehouse facilities. New steel fabrication processes and manufacturing techniques continue to improve the dependability of roll-formed pallet rack, so the difference of using structural vs reinforced roll-formed rack often comes down to warehouse environment and potential equipment interface.

Bracing the Upright

Struts are support mechanisms that are bolted or welded between two columns to form an upright. The struts are organized vertically in a series brace panels that are repeated throughout the height of the upright. There are three main patterns used, depending on the pallet rack manufacturer… the K, X and Z-brace are most common.

The distance between the beam levels and seismic requirements may dictate additional or modified brace panels to reinforce the upright. Options include thicker struts, doubling the number of struts or designing the brace pattern where the struts are mounted closer together. Pallet Rack - Apex Warehouse Systems


Pallet Rack - Apex Warehouse SystemsBaseplates sit at the base of the upright to anchor and stabilize the system. They also provide additional load capacity. In certain situations, they may need to be oversized to provide required support. Baseplates can be dimensionally larger and/or thicker depending on the need.

For example, in higher-seismic areas, baseplates are made thicker and/or larger, depending on their location and the slab thickness. The larger baseplate can accommodate more movement and still support the system.

Thicker or larger baseplates can also be required if the concrete slab is not rated for the expected load capacity of the pallet rack system. In this case, the larger baseplate helps spread the load over a broader area to provide necessary stabilization. In either scenario, the larger baseplates are welded to the column vs bolted.

Do You Need More Reinforcements?

The Apex team is here to work with you to help promote a healthy, safe, working environment.

If you are looking for a system design our material handling specialists are ready to help. Or if you are in need of an audit for your current storage systems, we can provide those necessary services as well.

The Apex Rack Repair Mobile App is a free mobile app that walks you through a complete pallet rack safety audit. It will capture all the specs needed to order a customized repair kit should damage be significant enough to require repair. Alternatively, the Apex PROs can complete your audit and prepare your repair specs on your behalf. Here’s more on both options…

Apex Rack Repair Mobile AppApex Rack Repair Mobile App provides Do It Yourself capability to conduct a complete pallet rack system safety audit. The app prompts you for key specs and photos as you identify system damage on columns, struts, baseplates, anchors, and beams. You can also take notes about wire decking, supports, load deflection, proper flue space, and more.

If all that sounds like something you’d prefer to Leave it to the PROs … Apex still has you covered. Apex PROs rack inspectors will come to you and handle your complete audit using the Rack Repair Mobile App.

Our Promise – Whether DIY with the app or a PRO audit you’ll receive a comprehensive rack inspection report with an independent solution recommending steps for system repairs and maintenance.

Safe, “healthy” facilities are key to warehouse optimization. The Apex Rack Repair Mobile App is here to help. Download the FREE app today, call our expert team or visit our website for more information.