The most arduous end use that timber pallets are put to is to be placed in beam or drive-in racking. Inattention to pallet strength can cause serious accidents since large loads are placed high above workers and quite often the public. The advice given here is for the suitability of timber pallets used in racking not the suitability of racking itself. On racking suitability we limit ourselves to advising users on where it can be professionally checked out, see below.

Beam racking for pallets

Advice given here on pallets assumes that the strength of the steel racking has been checked with the racking manufacturers - most racks clearly state the maximum load per bay. Some racks were designed before the small Europallet became popular and one thing to watch for is the 2-pallet bay width. The maximum load on both UK and Europallet sizes being typically 1500kg, the bay could accidentally end up with 4500kg if the bay is just wide enough to allow three 800 x 1200 Europallets to squeeze in across their 800mm dimension where only two 1200 x 1000 were designed for. Overload could occur in this situation and if likely, notices must warn rack users against placing three loaded pallets per bay.

Strength of beam racking. To help with safety a relatively new scheme is underway allowing for independent inspection of steel racking by accredited racking inspectors. It is run by the Storage Equipment Manufacturers Association (SEMA) which is closely involved with European Standards work on metal racking and has good experience in this. However, SEMA inspectors’ knowledge of steel racking does not usually extend to the timber pallets placed in racking and so PalletLink make Datasheets available and offer indivual pallet design analysis to members to assist.

Drive-in-racking. There is particular danger in drive-in-racking, which although it only comprises (SEMA statistics) 5 to 10% of all UK racking, it nevertheless presents a far greater potential danger to those working in the vicinity than beam racking. Drive-in racking also known as drive-through racking, is often less rigid in order to maximise warehouse storage space, it also applies greater stress to the pallet, particularly the four point corner support type of racking. Whether drive-in racking  is of a type to support along the pallet length or pallet width, or at four corners of a pallet, it is particularly important to get both pallets and drive-in-racking structures assessed for strength. As regards the pallets - the nails and the pallet bottom joints used in these pallets need particular attention including meeting the BS EN on nail-shear-strength. It is recommended you do not rely solely on pallet design software and evaluate nails and positioning independently.

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PDF25a Stacking heights for loaded pallets. (PDF 64kb)
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