Changing Load Parameters in Mobile Pallet Racking

Twenty years ago one of the deciduous fruit packing giants in the Western Cape was the first in their industry to realise the advantages of mobile racking, and commissioned a Barpro Storax mobile system into their new holding store. This chill room was approx. 1360 sq. metres, and accommodated over 2500 pallet loads – nearly double what would have been achieved with conventional racking. The load specifications at that time called for 1000kg per pallet.


However, with success in the export market ever improving, the use of Hi-Cube pallets became the norm, and these now weighed 1200kg – even more for some fruits, such as pears. So as their needs expanded, some 10 years later they constructed another, adjacent, holding room, and specified mobile racking again; this time the design requirement increased to 1200kg. The system was engineered accordingly and this store was duly installed and put into full use.


Changing pallet load weights
View of New Racks in Fruit Store – note the use of pallet support bars (yellow) used to reinforce against collapse of poor quality pallets.


Initially the new store was used for export product, while the earlier installation was dedicated mainly to local markets. However, it gradually became apparent that more and more export pallets were being placed into the ‘old’ store, and management realised with commendable diligence that the system should be checked for suitability for the increased loadings. The original rack supplier was called in, and on inspection declared, as suspected, that the rack was being dangerously overloaded by the new 1200kg loads. The entire rack system was accordingly re-configured using heavier-duty frames reinforced for the additional load.


However, continuing the justifiable concern and again exercising initiative and being admirably proactive, the customer this year approached Barpro with the information about the changes in usage, querying whether the actual mobile base units were of sufficient strength for the changed usage.


Always concerned with customer support, Barpro promptly sent Alan Moule, their in-house rack specialist, to inspect and check the system. He found that the racking was now, after re-configuration, very capable of carrying the heavier loading, but the mobile bases were perhaps a different story. When a mobile base is designed, it is purpose-engineered according to the loads – in this case 1000kg per pallet – and this is reflected in size and number of wheels, height of base, number of drive-motors, etc. Barpro had checked the original design with their engineers in Europe and confirmed that 1200kg pallets would, technically, be now over-loading the bases. However, Alan’s visual inspection revealed no noticeable signs of deflection or distortion of the structures, and the customer assured him, and demonstrated, that the bases displayed no problem in movement or operation under full load.


The customer was advised that although the system was being technically over-loaded, as long as the system continued to function adequately it should not be necessary to re-build or replace the bases (a very costly exercise) and that the system could carry on in use. It was advised however, that inspections should occur more frequently, and any sign of deterioration should be reported immediately.


Users of any racking system are always advised never to change or adjust loads, beam levels, or any other criteria without consulting the original supplier, since this can at best affect the operation of the system, and at worst can lead to catastrophic collapse.

It was gratifying to Barpro that a customer had the presence of mind to take this advice seriously.


Read more: The importance of Pallet Support Bars (Saddle Beams)

Read more: Booking an inspection for your Storax mobiles is as easy as…

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