A leading voice
25 October 2023
As a leading voice within the storage industry, SEMA believes it is possible, with the correct advice, to safely improve your storage capacity, and grow your business while avoiding unnecessary overheads.
INVESTMENTS THAT add to your racking or adjust the layout can yield relatively lower costs but deliver significant rewards. When boosting your warehouse racking, the approach can appear simplistic. Add in some additional racking and you’ll increase your storage. But, in the wrong hands, this approach can waste opportunities and prove unsafe.
When addressing any racking design, whether installing new or going for an upgrade, there are three key goals to address. Increase your storage capacity, improve processes and perhaps most critically keep safety standards at the forefront.
An experienced supplier, like our SEMA Distributor Companies, should examine your warehouse processes and space before deciding whether to adjust, add, or redesign your existing layout. They will address the current racking structure and specification to understand how the new design can benefit your business the most. They should analyse how stock travels through the warehouse, ease of accessibility, and pick time efficiency. Finally, they must create a design that incorporates safety factors, such as protecting employees in loading areas and designing new loading capacities.
Armed with that information, your supplier can work with you to recommend the best solution for your business.
Maximising the ability of your warehouse doesn’t always necessitate starting from scratch. In most cases, it should be possible to take your existing racking and upgrade the structure with cost-effective adaptions.
Adjusting your pallet racking to Very Narrow Aisle racking will increase the number of aisles within the same building footprint. While incorporating space-saving features such as pushback or pallet live racking will increase the volume of pallets you can store within a compact racking configuration. Or consider creating additional, usable space through a mezzanine floor or a pick tower structure.
Be aware that any racking design must meet the relevant industry standards. In the UK, these are either SEMA Design Codes or the European code EN 15512. Both are acceptable design standards which instruct on the structural analysis of racking, what types of loads to consider, how to test components and what factors of safety you require.
Before moving ahead with your racking upgrade, you need to bear one caveat in mind. The process of dovetailing in additional racking or redesigning the layout is a skilled job that requires a significant level of technical knowledge and expertise. Yet, one of the big problems in the storage equipment arena is that it is largely an unregulated industry with very few barriers to entry. Knowing which pallet-racking suppliers are reputable can be difficult to navigate.
It was for this reason that SEMA was established, to provide warehouse owners with reassurances. For over 50 years, we have been working hard to achieve the highest standards of quality and safety in the storage equipment industry.
Our guidance and the work of SEMA members support warehouse owners over the lifetime of their racking. This starts with the design, supply and installation of your racking and goes the full circle to the inspection and maintenance of your equipment. Finally, to prove the credentials of our suppliers, we also independently assess each member to ensure they meet our high standards.
Safe racking installations
The same words of caution also apply to the installation stage of your racking. It can be difficult to establish the skill level of your installer and experience does not automatically equate to quality. As the client and owner of the racking, the HSE will expect you to check the installer's competence. You should also be aware that most racking installations are classed as construction projects. Under CDM 2015 regulations, it is a legal requirement for you to make arrangements for the health and safety on the project.
Sounds simple enough but how do you know if your installer is appropriately qualified and working safely? In reality, most installers learn ‘on the job’ with little or no formal training.
That is why SEMA established their training program SEIRS, which instructs installers on correct installation methods that follow SEMA standards. Following feedback from industry experts and to increase standards further, last year we launched a new Diploma training programme. The new course challenges installers further. It provides a clear benchmark that any SEIRS-qualified installer has been assessed to the highest industry standards. So, before you let anybody install your racking, ask to see their SEIRS card.
Protect your racking investment
One last consideration is whether the work will impact the warranty for your current racking. When you buy a structure manufactured by a SEMA Member, it provides reassurance that an engineer has designed it to meet SEMA codes. Any unauthorised work that alters this original state could render the warranty null and void - the same also applies if you need any repair work conducted.
Through our interrelated structure, SEMA Distributor Companies (SDC) and SEMA Approved Installation Companies (SAIC) work alongside our manufacturing members. This relationship allows them privileged access to their technical departments and qualifies them to conduct work on behalf of SEMA manufacturers. Any remedial or alteration work undertaken by an SDC or SAIC will not invalidate the original racking warranty if supplied by a SEMA manufacturer.
What’s new for 2023
Next year we will continue our campaign to raise quality standards by reminding everyone of the importance of using trained labour, for example, you wouldn’t buy an expensive car and then risk getting the brakes fitted by a novice using a handbook. We feel the same when it comes to areas like the installation of your racking. After all, it is performing a critical job holding tonnes of product above employees’ heads and keeping everyone safe. Getting it right at the installation stage is essential, each and every time.