How Much Weight Can I Put on a Pallet Rack?

“How much weight do you need your pallet racking to hold?” As a fly on the wall of our offices, you’d hear this all the time. It’s one of the first questions we ask customers when they call for a quote. There are many situations in life where guesstimating is perfectly fine, but we usually don’t recommend doing it with rack capacities. We typically ask the customer to determine the uppermost weight they’d need their racking to hold before moving on to the nuts and bolts. This is a pretty simple calculation: take the maximum weight of any given pallet and multiply it by the number of pallet positions per beam level.

Pallet Rack Capacities

Example: if I know that my pallets will weight, at most, 2000# each and I’ll only be storing two pallets per beam level, I’ll need my beams to hold at least 4000# safely.

Some customers have their number at the ready. For those who don’t, we like to give a brief primer on why it’s such important information.

Pallet Rack Capacities

Teardrop Pallet Rack Capacity

Underestimating the capacity requirements of one’s racking is risky, to say the least. Industrial pallet racking is a specific product designed to be used in a specific way in a specific setting. Exceeding the limits of what your racking is designed to do puts personnel at risk and can result in avoidable accidents. It’s important to know that similar pallet rack systems may have different capacities. This is because similar pallet racking systems may have various manufacturers, therefore capacity levels often differ.

This information is vital because if you are quoted by one manufacturer, you cannot just take this information with you forever. Knowing how much weight you need to hold can be simple, and is one of the most important aspects of your pallet racking.

Pallet Rack Frame Capacity

Once you have calculated the beam capacity, you can move on to frame capacity. Most frame manufacturers rate their upright frame capacities assuming a vertical beam spacing of 48 inches. In other words, the top of each beam will be 48″ above the top of the beam below, and so on. This is important because the greater the vertical distance between beam levels, the lower the upright frame’s column capacity will be. To demonstrate this principle in action, try bending an uncooked spaghetti noodle and breaking it in half. Next, try breaking one half of the spaghetti noodle in half.

If you own, run, or even just work in a warehouse you know that safety is a top priority. If it isn’t, your inventory and employees could be at risk. The most important aspect of pallet rack capacities is that you should contact a pallet rack specialist for each and every pallet rack application. One miscalculation or estimation can lead to dangerous territory. That is why we always recommend reaching out for professional assistance when purchasing a new pallet rack system, or a new configuration.

What other factors determine pallet rack capacity?

Pallet Rack Capacity Factors

There are several variables that factor into the capacity of a pallet rack system. First, the flooring that your system will stand on matters. When owning or managing a warehouse you must ensure that your flooring can withstand your pallet racking plus the inventory you plan to put on the system. The type of steel also comes into play when figuring out capacities. Roll formed steel may hold high capacities, but structural steel will be able to withstand much higher load capacities. It may seem obvious, but knowing the thickness of your racking will also matter when calculating how much weight you can add to your racking.

Another variable that will affect rack capacity is the number of beam levels and load distribution you have per racking system. Pallet rack systems were engineered to hold uniformly-distributed loads. UDLs are what standard capacities are usually based on. If your loads aren’t evenly distributed, your system’s actual capacity limits may be different than when using UDLs.

Pallet Rack Safety Tips:

  • Ensure the flooring of your warehouse can withstand the weight of your racking system plus the weight of your inventory.
  • Label your racking with proper weight restrictions.
  • All upright frames should be anchored properly to the floor according to code.
  • When working with large pallet rack systems, consider pallet rack accessories to ensure safety.
  • Contact your material handling vendor or the product’s manufacturer if you have questions about any pallet rack capacity.

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About AK Material Handling Systems

We deliver value to our customers by providing the absolute best combination of quality products, helpful customer service and competitive pricing. We specialize in warehouse layout & design, pallet rack systems, engineered sales, mezzaninesmodular offices and completed turn-key warehouse systems. For more information email us or call (800) 722-5908