As space becomes tight within a warehouse, it can be tempting to keep piling more and more objects onto your pallet racks. However, nothing can withstand ever-increasing weights! When pallets are straining under too much pressure, over time, they can develop a condition known as beam deflection – and it’s a sign that everything on that rack, and possibly everything below, is at risk.
What You Need to Know About Pallet Rack Beam Deflection
Anything designed to hold up other objects is going to have weight limits – although, in the case of pallet racks, this is rarely a well-known variable. The weight your racks can hold will ultimately depend on the strength of the support beams below them. In turn, those beams are only as strong as the weakest link. If one beam fails, chances are they will all fail.
The primary sign that this is happening is deflection. Deflection is when a support beam is visibly bending beneath the weight of objects on top of it. In particular, if the beam remains deflected even when the load is removed, it has probably already been damaged.
Of course, some small amounts of deflection are normal – but in general, they should not be perceptible to the eye. According to ANSI standards, the deflection of a rack support beam should not be more than the length of the beam in inches, divided by 180. So, for example, an 8-foot (96-inch) beam should not have a deflection of more than .53 inches.
If the deflection exceeds that recommended number, it is at serious risk of failing.
How To Prevent Damage From Rack Beam Deflection
By far, the best way to prevent beam deflection is to manage the amount of weight put on your pallet racks. If you or your workers notice a beam starts to bend under a particular weight, find somewhere else to put that object.
Likewise, if you discover beam deflection which does not go away when weight is removed, you should assume that beam is damaged and untrustworthy. Replace it ASAP.
As a stopgap measure, you might be able to use wire-mesh pallet racking protectors to encase the rack. This solution won’t do anything about the deflection itself, but it will at least prevent objects from falling on workers if the beam should fail.