Letter to the editor, Supply Chain Review

Use of floor and rack storage

Letter to the editor, Supply Chain Review

In my role as Head of the Structural Engineering Department at Colby Storage Solutions, I have been following with great interest the debate (LMH, January 2006) concerning imported brand-compatible racking versus Australian-made racking.

The article “Industry defends brand-compatible racking” contains a number of inaccurate statements regarding the very important issues of structural design and safety. Adequate levels of safety and structural performance can only be achieved by adhering to relevant design standards for pallet racking, such as the Australian Standard AS4084-1993 and the European industry standard FEM 10.2.02.

It is stated that “the Australian Standard (AS) is simply a guide” and that it is “not mandatory”. It is inferred that racking companies can decide for themselves whether they wish to conform to a standard and what factors of safety they employ.

Statements like this send the wrong message to the market, particularly when companies selling imported brand-compatible racking claim categorically to comply with all relevant local and international standards.

The Australian racking industry has a clear responsibility to inform and guide the market on the important matters of design integrity, compliance with standards, and occupational health and safety. End users of racking systems cannot be expected to be experts in these matters.

It should also be understood that it is nonsensical for any racking company to make a sweeping statement to the effect that their “product” complies with a standard. For a start, racking standards are not product standards – they are engineering standards based on sound principles of structural design.

For a racking company to claim true adherence to a standard, they need to have carried out an extensive regime of component testing and to have sophisticated structural design programs. Only in this way can all the factors affecting the level of safety in a rack – including the pallet weights, the beam spacing, the upright and beam profiles – be properly assessed.

Colby Storage Solutions has invested heavily in product testing and has the very highest levels of design integrity. On the other hand, we know for a fact based on independent testing and analysis, that the frame load capacities touted by at least one imported brand-compatible rack company are overstated by up to 50 per cent. Such a rack has virtually no factor of safety and would be in danger of collapse if it is overloaded or suffers damage from forklift impact.

The above article is reproduced from Colby Storage Solutions

Dr Murray Clarke, BSc BE(Hons) PhD
Colby Storage Solutions (a division of Dematic Pty Ltd)
Member of AS4084 Committee
Associate Member of FEM Committee (Storage Racks)