What’s the maximum height for my warehouse pallet racking?

The whole point of pallet racking systems is to enable you to make cost-effective use of your space. But before you create a racking system that reaches to the roof, there are some things to consider...

There is no set limit on the height of pallet racking. There is extensive guidance from the HSE about ensuring pallets and racking are safe (for example this guide to pallet safety) and that does include advice on safe stacking heights, but it remains guidance for very good reason: every pallet carries something different; technology improves all the time; and with a near infinite combination of pallets, racking, picking equipment and products, being overly prescriptive is likely to create more problems than it solves.

In reality, it’s just as likely to be practical considerations that determine the height of your pallet racking as any guidance. Here are some key elements to consider:

1. Building height

You might think the ceiling is inevitably going to be the limit for your warehouse storage system, but in fact the limit is rather lower than that. You’ll need to factor in clearance to stack pallets on the upper level, and leave room to clear lighting, sprinklers (see below), girders and gantries. Also be aware that even a slight pitch to the roof can significantly alter the height of the racking between the centre and perimeter of the space.

2. Product and business requirements

There’s a reason that the out of season, the rarely used and the end of line ends up at the higher reaches of most industrial racking systems – loading and picking at height is inevitably more time consuming than the faster turnarounds you can achieve at lower levels. If your business is built on fast turnaround and/or perishable products, there’s a risk the cost saving you make in racking high could be lost in increased picking times. That’s the sort of calculation you’ll really need to discuss with your warehouse racking company, to ensure the racking you install is the best match for your business model.

3. Your lifting equipment’s reach

Again, it’s a question of balancing cost and benefit. You can build high. But if that would leave your existing forklifts unable to reach the topmost bays then you may have to balance the cost of buying high racking and the machinery to reach it, with the benefits that could bring.

4. Fire regulations

For certain types of products (high risk, high value or flammable), the fire services and insurance companies may insist upon additional safety measures. One of these may be an automatic sprinkler system that is both roof and rack mounted. This will influence the height of the top pallet as you will need to allow clearance from the top of the highest pallet to the roof so that the sprinkler system can work effectively. The specifics (in terms of clearance and design) can vary depending on a number of factors. Please contact us for further guidance and information.

5. Load patterns

The height of pallet stacks in individual bays will vary depending on the type of pallet, the type and shape of products and the pallet racking structure. The HSE’s general rule of thumb is that “the maximum height should be no more than six times the narrowest dimension of the bottom pallet” although that is dependent on the pallet design and compression. When determining how high any individual pallet stack should be, always seek advice from your pallet racking company.

For help in determining the maximum height and loads for your warehouse storage system, call Rack-Master now on 01422 300 644 or fill out the form below.

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