If you search online for “used pallet racking,” you’ll have no shortage of results, including individuals or businesses selling through Kijiji or similar platforms, auction listings, and numerous racking dealers across the country. The challenge with used racking is typically not availability, but rather having confidence that it has enough capacity, is safe to use, is compatible with existing materials, can be added to in the future, and ultimately it will be cost effective for your needs.
It is possible to have a safe and viable used racking structure and save money in the process. However, many used racking purchases result in disappointment, frustration, and lost investment. Be informed and aware when searching the market. The information in this article will help you assess the risks of used racking.
Racking systems support thousands, or even hundreds of thousands of pounds of material. The suitability and condition of the components used, together with the design, engineering, 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 failure (a collapse, for example) with potentially fatal results.
Regulations and Legal Considerations
When it comes to racking structures, employer responsibilities for workplace safety are governed by Occupational Health and Safety, CSA, and the Building Codes. Engineers are required to interpret the various codes and determine the adequacy of the system.
Municipalities use Building Permits to ensure that engineers have performed the necessary work and all regulations and codes have been met. To learn more about the Building Permits for pallet racking, see this article.
Beyond laws regarding racking structures in particular, the Criminal Code of Canada and OHS also provide overarching law regarding the employer’s responsibilities to provide a safe work environment. In short, be aware that you are required by law to ensure the racking system meets code and failure to do so can have significant consequences.
View Pallet Rack Regulations for more information on Federal and Provincial requirements and codes.
Begin by making sure the used racking offers sufficient capacity for the materials you’ll be storing on it. If you are looking to purchase an existing system, don’t assume it will be adequate for your needs, even if it was being used for a comparable or heavier application.
The actual capacity will depend on the original manufacture’s stated capacity for each component, the current condition and age of the components, and how the components are configured in the system design as assessed by an Engineer.
Make sure the components are the right size for your product and facility.
Frames – If the frames are not tall enough to maximize the full height of your warehouse, then you are losing potential storage capacity. If the frames are too tall, they cannot be cut down without engineering approval. The frames depth should also be compatible with the pallet or material depth you are storing. Loads weights must be properly distributed to the beams, without excessive overhang.
Beams – Ensure the beam length is compatible with your pallets or materials. The beam should be long enough to store the full width of the pallet(s) with spacing between each pallet and the frames. Pallets should not be touching each other or the frames.
Also, be sure the system is going to work with the material handling equipment you plan to use. This is particularly important for taller and specialized systems such as drive-in or double deep racks.
If you are adding on to an existing system or mixing a variety of materials from different sources, it is important to verify the compatibility first. Start by making sure they are the same brand or profile. If you are not sure, refer to this link to see a list of the most common pallet racking brands in Canada.
Then, although the racking may appear to be the same brand / profile, it may have variances in design or sizing that prevent it from fitting or fitting properly. Double check the exact sizing of all components. Sometimes incompatible components (including wrong sizes) get mixed together during teardowns or moves. If proper fitment cannot be achieved the capacity of the system could be substantially reduced. Discovering fitment issues during an installation can be a setback with additional costs.
Think about the accessories you might need, such as row spacers, safety bars, and mesh decks. If the racking is not a standard size, or not a common brand, accessories may be difficult and expensive to source.
Components that have been damaged, modified, or repaired without engineering approval must not be installed and should be disposed of to ensure they are not accidently added to the system in the future. Most damage is caused by material handling equipment, however other factors such as overloading and corrosion may also render components unusable.
Scratches and very minor dents may be acceptable, however what is allowable can only be determined by the engineer who must inspect the installed system to close out the permit. Any components that do not meet the engineer’s standard will need to be removed from the system, prior to them signing off.
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. If you are purchasing “on-line”, ask for current photos to verify the appearance. Many vendors store used racking outside and if it has been outdoors for any length of time it may not look the same as it did originally.
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 color may be faded, or water stained.
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.
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, trailer utilization may be reduced, and transport cost increased. Loose or broken bundles can result in damage during transit and increased unloading costs.
If the materials are coming from a long distance, consider the weather and road conditions. You may want to ensure the loads are tarped, or shipped in an enclosed trailer, to protect them from the elements, particularly during the winter months.
And, although it may seem obvious, make sure the seller removes all damaged product prior to shipping. If not, you may be paying for the transport and disposal of damaged items and find yourself short on components. Inspect the material on arrival and make sure to document damages that should be covered by the dealer or transport company.
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 racking from an individual or end user, it will typically be on an “as is” and cash only basis. In this case, due diligence is even more important, and you may want to consider involving a Material Handling industry professional to help assess the materials before writing a cheque.
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 involved. 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.
Looking for more information?
Read our other Articles:
- 3 Reasons for Racking Inspections
- Safety Committee Guidelines for Pallet Racking Safety Inspections