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Posted by Stephanie on February 20, 2023

Pallet rack uprights are essential components for any warehouse pallet racking system. Maintaining the efficiency and safety of your warehouse requires a well-designed pallet racking system. If there are any issues with your racking uprights, warehouse operations could be severely disrupted. It’s possible that a total warehouse collapse could occur in the worst-case scenario.

Whether you’re designing a new facility or upgrading one that your company has been using for years, you should have a comprehensive understanding of how pallet rack uprights work and why they are essential for most warehouses. The following tells you everything you need to know about pallet rack uprights and how to design them.

pallet rack uprights

What Are Pallet Rack Uprights?

Uprights are designed to connect to beams in order to make a pallet racking system. Two uprights are needed to make a selective rack bay. When you’re selecting uprights for your pallet rack system, you’ll discover that they come in many distinct shapes and styles. They also vary in width and height, which gives you the opportunity to select uprights that fit perfectly into your space.

The most common style of upright that’s used in the pallet racking industry is the teardrop design. Other options you can select include keystone and structural rack. The width that you choose for your pallet racking system depends on what’s being stored and the product’s overall weight.

What Experts Know About Pallet Rack Uprights

There are five aspects of uprights that every warehouse manager should understand, which include:

  • Engineering design pertaining to beam and upright spacing
  • Two types of upright racking
  • The punch style
  • The height width, and splicing
  • The footplate size
drive-in racking

Engineering

Racking systems are designed to properly store heavy items in dense racking spaces, which should maximize warehouse space. Each pallet rack system must be engineered to adhere to the product size, weight, and shipping flow. Engineering determines what kind of racking upright your pallet rack system will eventually use and how the upright will be configured.

If you want to avoid cutting corners when designing the uprights for your system, make sure that you consult an engineer during this process. Engineering expertise is required even when changing the beam spacing from the initial as-built drawings. Don’t buy a used or new rack without first obtaining an engineer review for the system design.

The racking system and uprights should be engineered in a manner that properly supports the product and makes it easier to manage the product. make sure that you keep any as-built drawings you have, which can be referenced for review later on. Beam levels also shouldn’t be altered without first obtaining engineering approval.

Two Basic Types of Upright Racking

The two basic types of upright racking include structural steel racking uprights and roll-formed steel racking uprights, the latter of which is the most common type.

Roll-formed steel uprights are built from sheet steel that has a minimum yield of 55,000 PSI. The steel is created by rolling it into lengthy and continuous shapes. These sheets are then punched to develop connection holes before being formed into a box shape or U shape. The many advantages of roll-formed steel uprights include that they are more affordable and highly versatile.

Structural steel pallet rack uprights are considered to be more impact-resistant and durable when compared to roll-formed ones. Structural steel is made with thicker and stronger steel. During the manufacturing process, the upright’s impact strength increases. The tubes are drilled before the final frame is assembled. These uprights are commonly used in more demanding environments and situations.

Hole Punch Styles

Hole punch styles on the sides and front of pallet rack uprights are meant to connect arms, spacers, beams, and similar attachments. There are numerous styles and types of punching that are regularly used with pallet rack upright frames. The main styles include rectangle t-bolted, teardrop, round-hole hex head, slotted, and keystone.

The teardrop style uses lugs that will quickly and securely attach beams to the pallet rack frame post. All bolted styles use rectangle or round holes that are positioned in the frame post for easy connections. However, bolting takes longer to assemble and disassemble. If you use structural frames, you should benefit from a more durable and impact-resistant pallet rack system.

Width, Height, Depth, and Splicing

Roll-formed pallet rack uprights are available in numerous post sizes. Standard post depths and widths include 3″ x 3″ and 4″ x 3″. Larger columns are commonly engineered to support additional weight. As for structural pallet rack upright posts, they are available in two depths and widths, which include 4″ x 1 1/2″ and 3″ x 1 3/8″. The pallet rack uprights that you select for your warehouse are available in heights that range from 8-40 feet. However, the height typically ranges from 16-28 feet.

You can splice uprights together to accommodate nearly any height. However, you should only splice uprights in a manner that adheres to the manufacturer’s splicing specifications. The different depths that pallet rack frames are available in range from 24″ to 96″. Diagonal bracing and horizontal bracing allow you to maintain the frame’s depth. Keep in mind, however, that these components may become damaged because of high product or pallet impact, which will require repairs.

Footplate Size

The anchor plate or footplate is an essential component of all pallet rack uprights. These plates are positioned at the base of the upright column and are designed to secure the upright to the ground with anchor bolts. By anchoring the pallet rack system, your personnel shouldn’t encounter any moving as a result of impacts, loading, or seismic activity. Make sure that you never install uprights without anchoring all footplates.

Pallet Rack Upright Inspection

Pallet rack upright inspections should occur on a regular basis to make sure that your racking systems adhere to the engineering standards that are maintained by The Rack Manufacturers Institute (RMI). By having your racking system professionally inspected, you can be confident that the racking is safe for your personnel. All RMI specifications are enforced by OSHA.

pallet rack uprights

Bend Deformities from Front to Back

According to RMI specifications, any pallet rack upright column with deflections, tears, or rips that are larger than 1/2″ will need to be immediately removed from the warehouse with every product off-loaded until the upright has been repaired or replaced. Keep in mind that rack damage for free-standing rows is considerably more dangerous than damage that’s done to back-to-back rows that have row spacers.

Down Aisle Deflection

All deformities or damage that’s larger than 1/2″ needs to be repaired or replaced with engineered solutions.

Corner Deflection

If you notice a deformity or damage to the corner of the upright that’s larger than 1/2″, the damaged area should be repaired. If the repairs aren’t sufficient, a replacement is needed.

Footplate Damage

Search for footplates that have been disconnected from the post, are missing anchor bolts, or have been sheared off. Each footplate needs to come with tight anchor bolts.

Corrosion

The finish on your pallet rack uprights may be bubbling or discolored, which indicates that corrosion has compromised the system. If you detect corrosion, you should get in touch with an inspector immediately to determine if repairs are needed.

Repair or Replacement of Damaged Pallet Rack Uprights

Replacing part of the damaged upright might seem like the best option. However, it’s highly recommended that you repair the parts with better components that increase impact resistance.

pallet rack uprights

Higher Grade of Steel

You can use a higher grade of steel when repairing parts. In many cases, structural steel options are available. It’s possible to use structural steel on racks that are made with roll-formed steel to deliver better impact resistance and durability.

Additional Protectors

Repair kits usually come with built-in guards and deflectors to deliver a better protected upright. You can select deflectors in non-protruding or protruding options.

Additional Anchor Points

Rack repair kits oftentimes come with large footplates that are made to exceed the thickness of OEM footplates. These footplates can be lengthier, which will move anchor points to entirely new locations. By placing the anchor points behind the frame post, it’s possible to get rid of anchor and equipment impact.

As mentioned previously, every upright needs to have at least one anchor for each frame post. If your facility is situated in seismic conditions, you may need to use as much as four anchors for every footplate.

Larger Anchor Bolts

Using larger anchor bolts increases the tension and shear of your bolts by at least five times compared to OEM anchors. The use of large anchors may allow you to reduce the amount of repairs that are needed.

Upright Column Guards

Warehouse managers usually invest in pallet rack upright column guards in order to keep damage at bay. However, not every guard is made at the same quality. It’s easy to make the mistake of purchasing cheap and ineffective guards that are built with low-grade plastic or steel.

These materials may not have been built to the high standards that are maintained in Europe or the U.S. Always strive to purchase steel protection products that are made in the U.S. It’s also essential that you avoid using any type of plastic guard. The plastic will transfer the impact to the frame post.

Why Choose QMH?

We have more than 25 years of experience in material handling and have developed many pallet rack systems while we’ve been in business. The custom solutions we deliver allow you to benefit from high-quality pallet rack uprights and systems that allow you to store any number of items in your warehouse. Call QMH today if you have questions about pallet rack uprights or would like to start a new project.

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With over 32 years of experience in material handling, QMH is committed to providing end-to-end solutions for companies with distribution, logistic and warehousing needs. From permit approval management to full-service execution from the ground up, QMH delivers unique solutions providing distinct value in record time.