What are pallet rack protectors and why and where do you need them?
When you think of pallet rack protection, visualize a forklift fork impacting a structural support of the pallet racking. This is the most common type of damage to pallet racking and it can be very costly.
It’s probably understood that pallet racks need protection because a rack collapse can be very costly, in both worker safety and inventory damage – not to mention the cost of rack repair or replacement.
Pallet rack protectors – sometimes also referred to as pallet rack guards – are a way to protect against forklift impact and prevent other kinds of damage as well.
Pallet racking collapse can result from a compromised rack due to a collision or strike from a forklift – usually the fork on a forklift. The forks on a forklift carry a lot of inertia since they are heavy, and then they are also sharp at the ends, as anybody familiar with forklifts can tell you.
Other heavy working vehicles and machinery in and around the racking may also endanger the integrity of the rack.
As mentioned, the most common impact to pallet racking is from the forks on the forklift accidentally impacting a rack post as it is trying to move material on the floor. This kind of impact is also the most dangerous since the bottom of the rack post can be supporting a great deal of the weight and be structurally crucial to holding up the entire rack.
Fork impacts can occur anywhere on the rack from careless operation. Even a scrape or bend of a rack column from any working vehicle, commonly the forklift, can sometimes weaken a structural support of the racking to the point where it may fail. This is most likely when the racking is heavily loaded.
Let’s look at some common ways to protect your pallet racking.
Pallet rack column protection
Usually, impacts to pallet racks are at the outside corner posts or columns, and this is where they are most vulnerable.
All pallet rack protectors are designed to avoid or lessen the impact from a working vehicle. Some guard the rack structural member by using impact absorption, while others are designed to strengthen the rack structural member in the event of impact – and some do both.
There are three main areas where you may want to add pallet rack protection.
Side mounted rack post protectors
This type of rack protection bolts to the frame to both strengthen and absorb impact to the rack columns.
Closed top side mounted pallet rack post protectors
Can be used at column footer or at every beam level. This example has a closed top and a v face.
Poly Impact Absorption Rack Protectors
These protectors come in many different forms as well, to both protect racking columns, but also beams where it might be needed. They are usually bolted on or banded to the rack posts or beams.
Pallet rack post footer protection types
The biggest way to protect the rack is at the base, the foot of the rack post or rack column. There are different ways to do this.
One way is a bolt-down steel guard that acts as a guard rail against inadvertent collision with the base of the pallet rack post. This type can come in many forms.
V Face pallet rack post protectors
The “V” on the face of this rack protector is designed to take the early impact and protect the rack column footer.
Seismic Racking Post Protectors
This type of column protection is made for pallet racking with large footer plates, typically found in regions with seismic activity.
Hidden anchor rack post protectors
Designed to protect the very base of rack columns from forklift forks. Usually with just one floor anchor.
End of aisle pallet rack protectors
Heavy traffic in aisle-ways may require some type of preventative against collision with pallet racking.
Bollard pallet rack protection
If making sure vehicles stay far away from racking is important, then using standard bollards may be the way to go. Bollards may not be useful for the typical protection against forklift forks.
Curved end of aisle pallet rack guard
Mainly as protection of the end of the pallet racking base against collision damage from forklifts or other equipment.
Many operations may find that guarding the outside corners of the racking is all they need and are concerned about. Others may be guarding against the inevitable fork impact in the most vulnerable areas and preventing both minor problems and catastrophic losses.
If you want to learn more about pallet racking, you can do so here.
Mustang Material Handling can help with any of your pallet rack protection needs, from recommending the best rack protection to final installation.