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SEMA Press Releases

SEMA Safeguards Storage Industry 2018 marks the association’s 50th year of service. The underlying theme to our current agenda ... Read more...
SEMA’s New Guide to the Conduct of Inspections   SEMA, The Storage Equipment Manufacturers’ Association has launched a new publicatio... Read more...
SEMA’s Onion Skin Approach to Rack Inspection Guidance on best practice from SEMA’s Technical Committee In 2017, the storage Equipment Ma... Read more...

The Weakest Link

Simon King, Former Chair of the SEMA Distributors’ Group shares his experience on the serious consequences posed by poor maintenance practice when a system’s in-use.

Once our members’ carefully designed and installed projects are complete, we are very aware that in-use, any small modifications, re-profiling or repairs to pallet racking can seriously increase the risk of racking collapse further down the line.

Here’s a typical scenario. The operators of the site have a need to do some small modifications, or repairs. The perception, it’s a low value job, low risk, not one likely to interest “the big boys”. So, let’s bring in some “low cost” local team that someone somehow knew from somewhere. It’s a “simple job”, not a “big job”, what could possibly go wrong?

The scary answer is quite a lot. The weakest link in an otherwise well-designed installation?

A racking installation is a carefully designed engineering structure, manufactured to minimise the amount of steel in the component parts (to keep cost down) whilst meeting stringent design codes (the UK SEMA or the European FEM). It is, fully loaded, a highly stressed piece of engineering.

Here’s how the weakest link can occur, with the customer most often left blissfully unaware;

An upright gets replaced by a lesser duty upright (some are visually obvious, but many are not). The same can happen with pallet racking beams. Sometimes this confusion occurs as there are more than one type used on the site.
A beam level gets moved upwards without design load sign-off by suppliers who will have access to the manufacturers technical data.
A foot gets single bolted when it should be double bolted. The wrong cheap floor bolt is used.
The wrong beam locking clips are put in (or worse, not at all).
A replacement upright gets spliced where it shouldn’t.
SDG members see these weakest links all the time. They represent a serious risk of rack collapse. Thankfully precious few end up in failure, but we fix near misses all too often.

Why do companies who should know better, and can afford better, still use substandard repair resource? Because they don’t know any different? People can get very badly hurt by the weakest link.