22 Storage and Handling Industry Terms You Need to Know

September 18, 2019

Every warehouse manager wants to get the most out of their limited warehouse space, maximize efficiency, and keep their employees safe.

Storage and handling systems such as pallet racks and industrial shelving can help you optimize warehouse storage and boost day-to-day productivity—but only if you’re leveraging the right tools, keeping up with routine maintenance and repairs, and implementing the right safety measures.

So, to help you make the most out of your warehouse storage, here are some of the storage and handling industry terms you should be familiar with as a warehouse manager!

The Storage and Handling Industry Terms You Need to Know

The Parts of a Pallet Rack

Pallet racks are an incredibly versatile storage and handling solution that can contribute to efficiency and warehouse optimization. Here are some of the main parts that make up pallet storage systems:

  • Pallet uprights. The vertical frame of a pallet rack. Uprights are critical to the structural integrity and strength of your pallet racks, so it’s essential to select ones that can support the load they will bear. If you’re adding new pallet racks to your warehouse storage system, ensure the additional uprights will securely interlock with any existing ones.
  • Pallet beams. The horizontal beams, in pairs, that lay across the pallet rack uprights. The pallet beams will create the levels that will support and store your goods and inventory.
  • Row spacer. An accessory item for a pallet rack that is used to secure back-to-back rack rows of selective pallet racking. Pallet rack spacers will bolt onto your uprights to help keep rack rows straight and uniform.
  • Anchor. All pallet rack uprights should be anchored or secured to the floor with bolts. Anchors are specifically designed to resist forces experienced at the base of a columns, such as the impact of being hit by a forklift. Anchors will ensure your pallet rack uprights actually stay upright, protecting the safety of warehouse employees.

Types of Pallet Storage Systems 

There are various kinds of pallet storage systems designed to meet a variety of warehouse needs. Just some of the available types include:

  • Low density storage. This solution utilizes traditional static shelves that take up a fixed amount of space.
  • High density storage. A warehouse storage concept based on the idea of condensing stored items into less space. When compared to more traditional static shelving, high density storage systems will offer the same amount of storage in approximately 50% less space.
  • Cantilever rack. A free standing system that is ideal for longer and bulkier loads. Vertical towers have arms that are attached horizontally, creating a continuous level with no vertical interference in the front of the system.
  • Selective rack. The most commonly used type of storage racking system as it offers full access to each pallet in the system. Pallets rest on horizontal beams that are supported by vertical uprights, and beam elevations can be easily adjusted.
  • Drive in rack. Reduces space and creates more storage density with its deep lane storage, where pallets are stored on support rails that are attached to uprights. Ideal for stacking larger quantities of similar pallets. 
  • Push back rack. A rack that is typically 2-5 pallets deep and designed for higher density by offering more selectivity than drive-in racks. Pallets are loaded on a nested cart which is “pushed” back into the system when additional pallets are loaded.
  • Pallet flow rack. A high-density storage system that uses heavy duty wheeled tracks and gravity to feed pallets from the rear of the system, where they are loaded to the front of the system where they are unloaded.

Storage Handling Safety Terms

Prioritizing pallet rack repairs, maintenance, and safety should be a priority for any warehouse or distribution center. Damaged pallet racks or unsafe conditions in or around your pallet storage system can but you forklifts, inventory, and employees at serious risk—which is why all facilities must be compliant with OSHA regulations for pallet rack safety. Here are some terms and equipment you need to know about in order to stay safe in your warehouse:

  • Beam locking device. A device to join the beams to the pallet rack uprights at every point of connection. This prevents an upward force applied by a forklift from accidentally disengaging the beam on impact. Beam locking devices are incredibly important for warehouse safety and should be applied at the time of the original pallet rack installation.
  • Deflection. The “bowing out” of beams that can happen when they’re stressed by heavy loads. Keep in mind that some amount of beam deflection is normal—according to RMI, beams are usually designed to accommodate deflection up to .55% of their length. To figure out what the normal deflection amount is for the specific beams in your warehouse, take the beam’s length and divide it by 180. Deflection is only a hazard if you are overloading your pallet storage systems.
  • Column protector. Protects upright columns from impact, so if a forklift runs into your pallet rack there is less risk of damage to both the pallet rack and forklift, plus your inventory.
  • Wire mesh decking. Spans the entire depth of the upright racking to prevent pallets from falling through. Wire mesh decking also helps your warehouse meet fire codes.
  • Pallet support bars. A less expensive option than wire decking that provides support under the pallet and strengthens the beam level.
  • Seismic Design Category. A classification assigned to a structure based on, “Its occupancy category, and the severity of the design earthquake ground motion.” The category assignment can range from A-F; Category A corresponds to buildings in areas with good soil where any expected ground shaking during a hurricane would be minor, where Category F corresponds to buildings of Occupancy Groups IV (which includes buildings such as hospitals or police stations) located near major active faults where soil or rock is of no consequence.
  • Vertical Beam Spacing (VBS). The maximum distance between levels of a pallet rack, or the distance from the floor to the first beam level, whichever is greater. If you load your pallet storage systems beyond this capacity, your pallet your rack could collapse and present a serious safety risk.
  • Height to depth ratio. The ratio of the distance from the floor to the top beam level, divided by the depth of the frame.
  • Rated rack capacity. The amount of capacity a pallet rack can handle. This can be calculated by multiplying your single heaviest pallet load weight by the number of pallet positions per beam level.
  • Design load. Involves determining the type, size, weight, and configuration of the load that will be stored on the pallet storage system, the equipment and methods that will be used to handle the load, and the methods of building and breaking down the load.

At Southern States Enterprises, we want to help create greater space utilization and safer working conditions in your warehouse. That’s why we offer comprehensive storage and handling solutions, including pallet rack installation, maintenance, repairs, replacement, and safety tools! 

Interested in learning more and transforming your warehouse storage space? Reach out to an expert today!

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