Before you decide on a supplier of your pallet racking system it is vital that you take into consideration the lifetime costs of the installation.

The short term benefits of installing a seemingly cheaper option can prove to be a disastrous long term investment once you take into consideration the costs of repairs to an inferior quality of system.

What are the key questions that need to be asked about any pallet racking solution prior to awarding the contract?

1. Can the pallet racking be relocated and reconfigured at a future date?

You can't plan for the future which is why you need to build in the ability to move any storage system. Ideally you should be able to easily and economically add to frame height, change frame depths and add different accessories.

2. Can it be used for different solutions?

What you want to use racking for today may be different tomorrow as your company grows. By recognising potential growth and developments you can design in the potential to modify the existing design to store different products or indeed convert the solution to high density solutions such as pushback or live storage.

3. Does the pallet racking system feature safety components such as barriers and upright protectors?

By designing these elements into the system at the start, you can not only ensure the operating tolerances are maintained, but more importantly the modest additional investment will reap significant long term returns by reducing the risk of damage, collapse or injury and the significant financial consequences this may cause your organisation.

4. Have the loads been calculated and displayed using approved SEMA signs?

The racking solution you install should last you for many years to come and as a result may outlast many personnel within the company. It is therefore vital that the capacity of the system is clearly displayed to provide user guidelines, prevent overloading and potential structural damage.

5. Are additional components for repair or extension to the racking system (economically) available?

In our experience a storage system is never a one off purchase. Whether you are looking to incorporate additional bays, or beam levels, you need to be able to get your hands on these without being held to ransom.

Unfortunately we are seeing some suppliers selling what is cheapest this week regardless of its future availability and we know that many smaller companies have changed their suppliers several times in the same number of years in an attempt to capitalise on seemingly improved deals.

Ensure the proposed pallet racking is an established range in the market; that they offer some of advanced options and accessories and ask if it is capable of being integrated with any existing systems in the market.

6. When repair work is required what is the likely cost of labour and equipment?

Getting the components is one thing but you must also take into consideration the additional costs such as the time involved in making the repairs and the cost of equipment such as mobile elevated work platforms (MEWP’s) which are required.

It is vital that you optimise the design to make repairs as quick and as economical as possible to ensure any repair is carried out at minimum cost and most importantly minimum disruption to your business.

7. Does the design strike the balance between capacity, floor space and budget?

It is important that you explore all the options available to you before you decide on the right solution for your organisation; however it is vital that you achieve the right balance of capacity, floor space and budget.

This can only be achieved by a thorough site assessment by an experienced project manager who not only understands the products being stored but more importantly appreciates the commercial objectives that you are trying to achieve such as freeing up valuable space for other uses or reducing travel and picking times.

8. Does it improve the efficiency of the work space

Any business investment must deliver a return and your racking solution is no different. To ensure you’re racking continues to provide you with long term benefits, it must take into consideration the existing work patterns, accessibility requirements, picking times and travel routes.

Any changes to the day to day operations must demonstrate measurable improvements and not sacrifice performance over capacity.

Alan Scott is Sales Director with Thistle Systems Group, a company which provides world class Pallet Racking, Shelving, Storage Equipment & Office Interior Solutions for every working environment.

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