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Your guide to pallet rack weight capacity

How to determine the load capacity of a pallet rack

Pallet racks are paramount when it comes to storage in warehouses, retail centres and other industrial and commercial facilities. However, before buying a pallet racking system, you’ll need to ensure its beams and frames can hold the required load safely. That’s why calculating pallet rack weight capacity is crucial.

However, underestimating the required weight capacity is a common mistake that can compromise the system’s integrity and lead to collapse, risking injury to nearby workers. On the other hand, pallet racks that are too large and robust may take up valuable floor space.

In this guide, we break down pallet rack load capacity, including how to calculate it, factors that affect weight limits, safety considerations and more. Keep reading to discover how to work out whether a pallet racking system is strong enough to support your storage needs.

What is pallet rack load capacity?

Pallet rack load capacity is the maximum weight the structure can safely support. Several factors affect this limit, including the pallet racking type, dimensions and material.

Additionally, industry standards and regulations might dictate the maximum weight permitted for a given application.

Why is it important to know pallet racking load limits?

Why is it important to know pallet racking load limits

Knowing the capacity of your pallet rack is crucial for maintaining a safe, efficient and compliant workplace. Your racking system must be able to handle the heaviest load you might place on it.

For the sake of the structure’s strength and integrity, it is important for you and your team to be aware of its load limits. Overloading your pallet racks can cause them to twist, buckle, and potentially collapse, putting your workers and inventory in harm’s way.

How to determine the load capacity of a pallet rack

How to determine the load capacity of a pallet rack

The most straightforward way to work out how much weight your pallet rack can hold is by speaking with our expert team. We specialise in all things pallet racking and will ensure you secure a safe, reliable and robust system that can support your inventory.

But first, you’ll need to confirm the required load capacity.

Get started by figuring out the heaviest load you’ll be storing in each pallet position. For example, 1,000kg.

Then multiply this figure by the amount of pallet positions on each beam level. If that number is three for instance, you’ll need a minimum beam capacity of 3,000kg.

Next, multiply this number by the number of beam levels per bay. If you’re planning to have two beam levels in each bay, then the overall pallet rack capacity is 6,000 kg.

Now you’re all set to calculate pallet rack weight capacity. To do this, we’ll help you assess the following factors:

Vertical beam spacing

Vertical beam spacing is the first factor to consider when determining your pallet rack’s weight capacity.

Measure the distance between the highest points of two successive beam levels. Then cross-reference this figure with the system manufacturer’s guidelines to confirm the recommended vertical spacing for your required load capacity.

Importantly, the greater the vertical beam spacing, the less weight an upright frame can hold (more on this below).

Upright frame capacity

Upright frame capacity in calculating your pallet rack’s weight limits

The upright frame capacity is the most crucial element in calculating your pallet rack’s weight limits. After all, this structure supports the entire system’s weight. Column height, spacing and construction all determine the maximum weight a frame can hold.

Uprights absorb two types of weight:

  • The static load refers to the total pressure applied by the unloaded deck, brackets, beams, columns and other rack components whose weight never changes.
  • Live pallets are loaded pallets whose weight fluctuates depending on the inventory being held.

Your upright frame’s capacity must exceed the maximum weight of both classifications combined to ensure a safe system at all times.

Here’s how to determine the overall capacity of your pallet rack’s upright frame:

  1. Check the maximum weight capacity for each beam level with its manufacturer.
  2. Multiply this number by the amount of beam levels in the frame. For instance, if the maximum capacity per level is 1,000 kgs, and it has four levels, then it can hold a total of 4,000 kgs safely.

Note that the total capacity of your uprights won’t vary depending on the number of beam levels. Instead, the more beam levels you add, the lower each one’s storage capacity becomes.

Beam length and depth

When it comes to weight capacity, the longer the beam, the deeper it must be.

This is due to the downward force applied by a load, which compresses the beam and causes it to flex slightly. The tension extends from the centre of the load, moves along the beam’s length and transfers the weight to its connection with the uprights.

Therefore, the right size of uprights depends on maximum beam capacity.

Choose the size of your beam pairs according to the length of the beam or the ‘bay clear entry’ distance. Equipped with this information, you can then choose an upright frame that matches your beams.

Deck capacity

A pallet rack deck helps spread the weight of a load evenly across the beams and down the uprights. Acting as a horizontal stabiliser, it supports a static, uniform load that applies equal pressure throughout.

However, only some warehouse racking systems feature decks. Others rest pallet edges directly on beams or uprights. Operating without decks demands precise weight calculations to ensure the racking system remains robust and safe.

Safety considerations

Maintaining a safe warehouse is essential, and one key aspect is ensuring the load capacity of pallet racking is never exceeded.

Here are practical safety tips for managing pallet racking load capacity effectively:

  • Don’t surpass the specified maximum load capacity for your pallet racking.
  • Spread weight evenly across each shelf.
  • Always place the heaviest items on the lowest shelves.
  • Ensure that pallets are secure and stable at all times.
  • Regularly check the racking for signs of damage.

It’s also important to carry out routine maintenance and inspections to keep your pallet racking system in top condition. This is because factors like general wear and tear, accidental damage and changes in load distribution can all influence pallet rack capacity over time.

How to store heavier pallets on racking

Store heavier pallets on the lower shelves of your racking system, ensuring that the weight is distributed evenly across the structure.

This strategy will help avoid overloading any single area of the frame and support stability so that the system is less likely to topple over.

How to increase pallet rack capacity

If you’re looking to boost your existing pallet rack’s load capacity, there are a few different methods to consider. For example, you could add structural reinforcements to your current rack or replace it altogether with a new, heavier-duty system.

Alternatively, you might rearrange how items are stored to distribute weight more effectively, or you could add more levels to your racking. Pallet racking frames are adjustable. To accommodate larger pallets with extra spacing, simply reposition the beams.

However, bear in mind that larger spaces between beams will reduce the frame’s total weight capacity, so consider this carefully before actioning any adjustments.

As always, discussing your needs with a professional will help ensure these changes suit your specific racking system and are safely implemented.

Get the right pallet racking for your storage requirements

If you want to store your products safely and protect your employees from physical harm, respecting pallet rack capacity is vital. Knowing these weight limits will help to prevent the risk of racking system collapse, worker injury and inventory loss.

Purchase the perfect pallet rack for your load specifications with Pallet Racking Sydney. Whether you’re ready to install a pallet racking system or need more guidance on how to calculate pallet rack capacity first, we’re here to help.

Our expert team can provide durable pallet racking systems customised to your load requirements. Contact us for more information or shop a wide range of solutions, including selective racking, cantilever racking, longspan shelving and racking accessories.

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