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Installing Pallet Racks

Grainger Editorial Staff

Maximize efficiency and ensure safety

As a manager, it’s your worst nightmare—watching as a worker inadvertently bumps into a pallet rack. The rack teeters for a moment before tipping over, knocking into an adjacent rack and causing a domino show of epic proportions. For the worker, the manager and the company, watching hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of equipment and supplies come crashing down in slow motion is as bad as it gets. Aside from the tornado-sized mess to clean up, there’s the potential for injuries and even death.

The Layout

If your facility is like most, you’ve got limited space, so you want to maximize it. Pallet racks are a great way to use all of your vertical and horizontal space, but many people make mistakes that cost them efficiency. With that in mind, here are the Four Commandments for pallet rack layout:

    1. Lay pallet racks out going along your longest dimension.

    2. To ensure access from either side, do not put an aisle against the wall.

    3. Keep all racks going in the same direction. Having some racks going one way and other racks going the other way will only cost you much-needed space.

    4. Leave enough room to easily accommodate your traffic flow. Creating super tight aisles are a recipe for disaster.

The Prep

Preparation is important. Here's how to do it right when it comes to pallet racks:

1. Inspect everything. Look for bent components, missing parts or cracks. Anything out of the ordinary could weaken your entire structure and cause problems down the road.

2. Get your tools together. At the bare minimum, you’re going to need:

3. Put down your chalk lines. With the measurement of your space and the pallet racks, plus your plans for layout, mark the outline of your racks with a chalk line.

The Assembly

Start by setting the uprights along the chalk lines you marked. Space them at the length of the beam. Hold the uprights in place and slide the first beam into the slots that represent the height at which you want your shelving. Do this on both uprights and then use a mallet to pound the beam firmly into place, making sure there’s a secure lock. Repeat this process for each beam until the first bay is done.

Use a level to ensure you’ve got 90-degree angles at each beam and that you’ve got a level bay. If the bay is leaning, use shims to even it out. If the beams have any slope, make sure they are plumb before moving on.

Once the first bay is perfect, move on to building your second bay, always making sure the structure is plumb before progressing to the next bay.

Note: It’s absolutely vital to ensure each bay is level and secured. If not, the entire rack structure may be compromised, which could cause untold damage to your facility. For that reason, it’s often advisable to have your racks installed by professionals who are trained in the installation and safety procedures required.


Pub. 09/2017

The information contained in this article is intended for general information purposes only and is based on information available as of the initial date of publication. No representation is made that the information or references are complete or remain current. This article is not a substitute for review of current applicable government regulations, industry standards, or other standards specific to your business and/or activities and should not be construed as legal advice or opinion. Readers with specific questions should refer to the applicable standards or consult with an attorney.

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