As of 2017, the Public Storage and Warehousing industry is one that employs over 600,000 people and brings in $22 billion in revenue. And that doesn’t include the countless warehouses that belong to companies shipping their own tangible products. This means, among many other things, that there’s a massive amount of product movement within warehouses and fulfillment centers every day. Ultimately, this also spells more risk of commonplace accidents unless warehouse safety best practices are observed.
Some warehouse safety measures consume a lot of time, energy and money to implement. Others are fast, easy, and relatively cost-effective. As part of our WPRP University series, this article will cover a small but important aspect of warehouse storage that everyone in material handling or warehousing should be familiar with. It’s a topic that understandably is overlooked, but is crucial to the safety of a warehouse. We’re talking about what RMI refers to as “beam connector locking devices.” Others may simply know them as “pallet rack clips,” “beam clips,” “drop pins,” “j bolts,” or a wide variety of other names.
We’re going to cover why these small parts are a necessity and not an accessory, when they’re needed and when they’re not, and arm you with information you can use to make your customer’s or your warehouse a safer place.
Pallet Rack Beam Clips and Warehouse Safety
Let’s first take a step back. What are we referring to when we mention pallet rack safety pins? What are they, and why is there a need for them in the first place?
For our purposes, “beam connector locking device” refers to a component that keeps pallet rack beams engaged in the upright frame column. This is a necessary feature because of the way pallet rack is designed to hold together. In most cases, pins on the connecting portion, or “ear” of the beam are inserted into slots in the upright frames. Here they’re held in place by a combination of gravity and friction from the upright frame.
However, neither gravity nor friction are strong enough counteract the upward force of a lift truck. The hydraulic mechanisms of modern lift trucks can easily move thousands of pounds. In many cases, this means that a simple miscalculation or equipment misfire could dislodge an entire beam level and its contents, threatening the safety of any personnel in the area and likely damaging the product in the process. This is why ANSI/RMI MH 16.1 Section 5.4.2 specifies that all beams should have a locking device capable of resisting an upward force of at least 1,000 pounds.
Built In Pallet Rack Beam Safety Clips
Many manufacturers took notice of the need for locking pins over the years, and began manufacturing racking with locking pins built in. This advent removes the need for end users to purchase and install locking pins separately, as the pin locks the beam into place upon installation. Where users often run into trouble is with pallet racking that’s purchased in used condition or beams whose clips have been sheered off.
As a material handling company, we’ve heard firsthand accounts of rack accidents involving beam disengagement, and they often result in the end user rushing to find a solution that will prevent it from happening again. The solution we usually suggest is to install Universal Drop Pins on all pallet rack beams without locking pins.
The Universal Pallet Rack Drop Pin
One of the reasons we recommend using the Universal Pallet Rack Drop Pin is in its name: it fits virtually all pallet rack brands that have 3/8” aligning holes on the beam-to-frame connection. Not only does it work well for a wide variety of different brands, but it’s easy to install. As we show in our video demonstrating how to install the Universal Pallet Rack Drop Pin, it’s as easy as dropping the pin through the correct slots.
Often times when tearing down pallet rack or re-slotting beams at different elevations, the safety clips are bent backwards or sheered off, unable to function properly when the beam is finally reinstalled. This is one of the most common situations in which the Universal Drop Pin comes in handy. If you’re purchasing a warehouse full of used racking and using or reselling it, why not play it safe and install drop pins on beams that have broken or missing clips?
Once in place, the drop pin will keep beams secured in the upright frame, even in the event of upward force. Drop pins are also coated in a rust and corrosion-resistant zinc plating, an important feature if the racking is exposed to the elements.
How to Ensure Beams are Secured
It’s important to actively maintain warehouse safety, and part of that process is making sure cross beams are securely engaged in frame columns. If the beams have built in locking pins, make a note during regular rack inspections to check the safety locking pin. If it’s been removed, a replacement clip or Universal Pallet Rack Drop Pin should be installed.
When ordering used pallet racking, order enough safety pins to secure each beam. Because of their utility and the impact they have on warehouse safety, we include drop pins with every used pallet rack purchase, free of cost.