If you search online for “used pallet racking,” you’ll usually find it, along with good availability from a wide range of sources. The challenge is ensuring it’s safe, scalable and right for you.
Does it meet your needs?
Begin by making sure the used racking offers sufficient capacity for the materials you’ll be storing on it. It must also be the right height and depth for your facility, making full use of available ceiling height if possible, or you’re paying for space you never use. Also, be sure the system is going to work with whatever material handling equipment you plan to use.
Think about the accessories you might need, such as safety bars and mesh decks. Ensure they’re all included or available elsewhere.
Check to confirm all components are the same brand and right sizes for interlocking compatibility. Sometimes incompatible components (including wrong sizes) get mixed together during teardowns or moves. Discovering this problem during an installation can be a setback or worse.
Section 217.1 of the Criminal Code of Canada (formerly Bill C-45) states the following:
"217.1 Everyone who undertakes, or has the authority, to direct how another person does work or performs a task is under a legal duty to take reasonable steps to prevent bodily harm to that person, or any other person, arising from that work or task."
Clearly, as owner, employer or supervisor, you’re responsible to ensure a safe work environment for your employees. Failure to do so can result in criminal charges.
Racking systems support thousands, or even hundreds of thousands of pounds of material. The suitability and condition of the components used, together with the engineering, design and installation of the system, are what ensures the overall safety of the system. A defect or failure in any of these areas can result in a complete system failure (a collapse, for example) with potentially fatal results.
Capacity and Condition
There are many factors to consider:
- Can you obtain documentation stating the manufacturer’s original capacities of the components?
- Have any of the components been compromised in any way?
- Have the beams or frames been overloaded?
- Has the system been exposed to chemical spills?
- Are any of the frames, beams, or beam connectors bent or twisted?
- Have any of the welds been broken or separated?
- Do any of the components show signs of being modified or repaired?
- Is there impact damage to the frame columns or bracing?
- Where was the system installed or stored? If it was in a high humidity or outside environment then rust may be a factor to consider.
If you can’t find an engineer to approve your used racking, you’re in a bad position.
Most municipalities require a building permit for pallet rack structures. For that, there’s a prerequisite of sealed engineered drawings. They show the racking system layout, elevations and calculations for capacity.
If the racking is in poor condition, your engineer may not even agree to provide a capacity calculation, or could substantially downgrade the original manufacturer’s ratings.
This is important, not only for the safety of your employees, but because City inspectors will often demand to see engineering data and they’ll check for proper installation. If you are unable to supply the required information you may not pass the inspection.
An engineering consultation can save you from buying and installing an inadequate racking system. Set up your racking – and your business operation – for success. Factor in the cost of these approvals when considering the possibility of buying used racking.
Scalability: Ready for expansion?
Short-term decisions about racking systems can sometimes reflect a limited view of your business potential. Most systems are designed with a view to expanding them at some point to accommodate the growth of the business.
With this in mind, you should definitely determine whether there’s “add-on potential” for the system down the road. Is the brand readily available in the local market if and when you want to modify your system? It can be very expensive to ship single racking components from far-flung locations.
More expensive to move
If possible, have your used racking vendor include the freight costs to your site in their pricing. That way, they’ll be responsible for determining all the sizes and weights of the bundles and how the bundles are loaded onto the trailer.
Make sure the loads are tarped or shipped in an enclosed trailer to protect them from the elements, particularly during the winter months. Determine in advance who will be responsible for freight claims in the event of damages during shipping.
Used racking is often poorly bundled, compared to professionally bundled factory product. As a result, there can be far less product per trailer, broken bundles and damaged product on arrival. If the product is not bundled correctly, prepare for substantially increased loading, transport and unloading costs.
And, although it may seem obvious, make sure the seller has removed any and all damaged product prior to shipping. Inspect the material personally if possible. If not, you may be paying for the transport and disposal of damaged items and also find yourself short on components.
If you’re buying used racking, then you’re likely willing to accept “less than new” appearance. There’s still a line, though, in terms of what’s acceptable. Ask for current photos to verify condition.
Labels - Used racking often comes with product labels and/or bin locations that can be difficult and cost prohibitive to remove. Re-painting used racking is generally cost prohibitive.
Cleanliness – If the racking has been operating or stored in a dirty environment then you may want to power wash it prior to installation.
Paint – You can assume the paint will be scratched and scuffed from use. If it’s been stored outside for any length of time, the paint color may also have faded. Re-painting used racking is always an option. It’s also an added cost.
Vendor / Seller Reputation
If the seller is a Material Handling vendor then ask for current references and make sure they can answer specific questions about the capacity, condition and prior use of the racking.
If you’re buying the racking from an end user, perform due diligence on the system or consider involving a Material Handling industry professional to assist you.
You can expect the installation of used materials to take longer and cost more. How much longer will depend on the condition of the racking and the variety of materials. In some cases the components may look to be in good condition, until you try to install them, at which point the deficiencies and variances become noticeable and a hindrance to the installation process.
Used Racking Inspection : What to look for?
- Correct capacity (with documentation)
- Compromised, modified or repaired components
- Bent or twisted frames, beams or beam connectors
- Cracked, broken or separated welds
- Signs of chemical spills
- Impact damage (dents or bends) to frame columns or bracing
- Significant rusting of materials
Let us help!
You have many considerations when purchasing used racking. We have new and used racking available and can assist you through the entire process including; the design and layout of your warehouse, inspecting existing or used racking, engineering, permitting and installation. Call us, we would love to contribute to your project.