A recent conversation in a warehouse near you. 

Kathy: Hey Sue, This place is a mess, we need some more of those pallet racks in here. Please go on google and find some local pallet rack and let’s get it shipped in here ASAP.

"lowest price isn't always the best price"

Sue: Okay will do! I know nothing about racking, Does it matter what style or manufacture?

Kathy: Nope. They’re all the same just find some industrial-grade racks that will do the job, but make sure it’s cheap. We have a limited budget and it’s just warehouse racking so our customers will never see it, the cheaper the better.

Sue: aaaahhh Okay. Hey, you’re the boss. but is that safe? We are putting a lot of weight up there and I am not sure I want to be working around some cheap racking every day.

Kathy: Sue I have been here for 15 years now and have never seen a rack fall down. Trust me when I say that all racking is basically the same so just find the cheapest deal and let’s get this place cleaned up. Oh and make sure it has some of that wire grating too we don’t want anything to fall through and hurt someone.

Our response to Mrs. Kathy… 

When planning to buy industrial pallet rack for your warehouse several things NEED to be taken into consideration before you make your purchase. It may not be as cut and dry as you think.

Here are some questions that you need to address before you begin receiving bids on different rack systems.

– Will you need to obtain permits or approval from your landlord to add more shelving? 

– What are you going to be storing on the racking and what is the purpose of the shelving?

– If you have a current rack system who is the manufacturer and where did it come from?

– How will you be loading the racks? Are you looking to hand stack items, forklift load pallets onto the rack, ext.

– What size are the products that you are going to store? Pallet size, weight and how many pallets would you need to store.

– Are you looking for new or used racking? 

– Who will be installing the racking? 

– Will you need to obtain a quote on installation as well?

After all of the above questions are answered, we then recommend that you find three companies to receive bids from. It is important to know who the manufacturer of your current rack system is so that you can find your local representatives because not all material handling companies offer all styles or manufacturers of pallet rack shelving.

Below is a list of some questions that you should ask each distributor when researching companies to receive bids from…

– Do they stock pallet racks at their facility?
Using a stocking distributor will allow you to eliminate the middle man mark-up and also ensure you can get your product quickly. 

– What manufacturers do they represent?
This is key if you are matching up to your current system and also if you have a specific preference in manufacturer. 

– Do they offer new and used pallet rack options?

– What are their payment terms?
Understanding payment terms beforehand can ensure you are satisfied with what they offer instead of waiting until the last minute to realize that they need 50% down.

– What do others have to say about them?
Check their customer reviews on Google and also on the BBB Better Business Bureau.

– Do they have a physical warehouse or location?

When calling the different material handling companies for your bid it is important to not over look these key things:

How quick did they respond and acknowledge your email or call? 

– Was the sales representative knowledgeable and able to answer the above questions confidentially?
Believe it or not, you can tell a lot about a business within the first couple of minutes of speaking with them. A good material handling company will listen to all of your needs and requests but a GREAT material handling company will go above and beyond for you and ask the extra questions to make sure that you are getting the right product for your application.

When you receive your bids back here are a couple of the “Apples to Apples” things to compare:

– Who are the manufacturers of the pallet rack/wire decking and what is their reputation?

– Are the capacities of the different products marked and represented?

– Where is the product located and how much is freight?

– What is the lead time? 

– Do they actually own the product they are quoting? 

After all of the above items are covered and answered your decision should be a whole lot easier. 

In summary, we created this post to help you “the consumer” ensure that you are getting the right product for your warehouse. Please remember that not all racking is the same and that the lowest price does not mean the best price for your product.

Recently we asked two very well-respected industry professionals to weigh in on this topic. Here is what they had to say:

Dave Olson – Ridg-U-Rak Storage Systems (Pallet Rack Manufacturer) 

– What do buyers need to be aware of when comparing manufacturers?
They should look at the total value offering provided by a manufacturer, not just the sell price of their products. A comprehensive comparison should consider the proven and consistent service levels offered by the manufacturer. A high level of product quality should be expected and considered mandatory. Look for a manufacturer that has a proven track record and outstanding industry reputation. Ask around. Talk to other buyers from other companies. Visit the manufacturer to really see first-hand their capabilities and culture.  

– Is cheapest always the best rack?
Absolutely not.  In general cheapest implies just that. You need to look at the big picture. Cost is only one aspect of the value proposition and most often the least important aspect.
Consider the cost of quality issues, late deliveries, loss of customer faith, etc.

– When one mixes new and used pallet rack components what do they need to understand?
All rack systems should be verified by engineering oversight.  While many manufacturers provide interchangeable products, one should exercise caution. The design parameters for connections can vary quite substantially across manufacturers.  Contact the manufacturer when considering mixing components. Used rack components should always go through the same level of scrutiny as a new rack when used in a rack system.  Condition of the parts, the strength of the components, seismic capacity,  compatibility of parts are just a few considerations that are important when using used rack.

– Do you have any advice for pallet rack buyers..?
Look for the best “value”, not just the lowest price.  Know your manufacturer, ensure they offer a high level of service, and work closely with them to ensure they are providing the support you need and the expertise necessary to ensure a properly designed and installed storage rack system.

Jason Jones JL Wire (Pallet Rack Wire Deck Manufacturer) 

– What do buyers need to be aware of when comparing manufacturers? 
1.  Product finish – Wire decking is primarily used in warehouse applications where skids and heavy product loads come in contact with it.  Our galvanized finish is far more durable than the standard painted product offering.

2.  Product testing procedures.  ANSI & R-Mark testing practices.

3.  Product application – We feel it is very important to know how the customer plans to use the product so we can specify the right product for their application.

– Is the cheapest price always the best wire decking?    
Absolutely not.  Unfortunately, we have come into the market that has a “Wal-Mart” mentality where cost is becoming all customers seem to care about.  We can supply very lightweight decks that will work for today but will not last as long as some of the heavier decks we offer.   I will also say that decks were over-engineered for many years and the lighter decking will work in most instances.

– Do you have any advice for wire deck buyers?    
Yes, when comparing manufacturers do not just look at the price.  It’s important to compare the wire gauge, channel gauge, and the overall weight of the decking in question.  I also believe strongly that the finish of the product is key as galvanized is so much more durable than paint.

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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