Shining a light on rack selection

by Inside Logistics Online Staff
Clay Electric chose a cost-effective racking system that is designed to withstand increased impact.

Even before Clay Electric Cooperative sought to build a new warehouse to consolidate maintenance materials from various storage facilities into one location, the North Florida member-owned cooperative was determined to dramatically improve logistics, reliability and productivity.

However, achieving this required resolving the most pressing issues encountered at its existing facilities, and engineering a solution that would lower costs and reduce downtime in the future.

The co-op, which serves approximately 170,000 accounts and services an area that stretches into 14 counties, had ongoing issues with forklifts running into and damaging the racking.

Bidding for the job had to be open but would come down to more than the lowest bid. In choosing value over price alone, the co-op was looking for the best long-term solution.

Because the new warehouse would not require high-volume traffic, like a distribution centre, for example, employees would not be dedicated, full-time forklift operators. In the past this had increased the instances of forklift impact related rack damage, so the racking had to be capable of withstanding unavoidable accidents with minimal maintenance.

Increased rack resistance

In such cases, increasing rack resistance to impact can improve safety and operations while reducing the total cost of ownership including repair and premature replacement. There are several ways to achieve this, which involve choosing the appropriate racking materials and options.

“Typical rack that uses three-sided upright columns with an open back, called open back roll form rack, is more susceptible to potential accidents by operators lifting a load too high and backing out,” says Buddy Chadwell, president of Kardex Storage, a material handling distributor in Florida. “This can place twisting, torsional loads on the rack that can shorten its lifespan and even lead to it tipping over. It is seldom the best choice when the structure must endure frequent or long term forklift impact.”

A better choice is to opt for a cost-effective racking system that is designed to withstand the increased impact, and then supplement the most impact prone areas with additional protection. For the project, the co-op decision makers chose SK2000 pallet rack, a boltless, closed tubular upright product by Steel King.

Compared to open-back, roll-formed columns, the closed tubular uprights are 44 times more torsion/twist resistant, with 250 percent greater frontal-impact resistance and 68 percent greater side-impact resistance. All beams are constructed of high-strength (55,000 p.s.i. minimum) steel, and holes are placed on the column’s face, not the corners, minimizing loss of strength.

“The tubular rack is much more resistant to rack movement and twisting than open back channel designs,” says Chadwell. “This translates into a much longer usable lifespan and more operational uptime with minimal maintenance.”


To make its storage racking system even more impact resistant, Clay Electric also implemented an innovative, adjustable, boltless rack column protector called Snap-Guard, which safeguards the upright rack column from forklift damage. Constructed of structural angle, with a unique four-rivet connection that automatically locks into the upright column, it can be adjusted and removed as needed to protect the desired storage level.

“Instead of a typical bolt-on design, the snap on protector snaps into the rack’s tear-drop holes, which makes it very easy to install and adjust,” says Chadwell.

Since a rack upright’s first six to 12 inches of column from the floor is also prone to fork truck impact, particularly at end rows and intersections where maneuvering is tight, Kardex Storage also installed Guard Dawg guardrail rack protection.

The guardrail, constructed of high-strength steel angle, protects upright columns and comes in right, left or double ended guards so it is fully compatible with most end row racks.

As for the end result, Chadwell says, “The closed tubular selective rack, with its accompanying guardrail and column protection, is designed to last decades longer than typical open back rack, with less maintenance and more uptime.”

For its part, the co-op is already experiencing the benefits of the extra engineering that went into its new warehouse, along with its selective rack.

With more than 13,000 miles of distribution and transmission lines, the co-op has received a superior Average Service Availability Index of 99.95 percent, a measure of reliability commonly used by electric utilities. By making these types of key, targeted improvements to increase uptime, productivity and safety, Clay Electric Cooperative expects to further build on its stellar reputation and overall index rating.