Tips for Configuring Pallet Rack: What to Measure

Javier Ramirez
April 2, 2018

Measuring for pallet rack reconfiguration or adding new rack may seem straightforward, but like most projects, the devil is in the details. It is true that height, width and depth are the measurements used and accurate measurements save time by preventing problems afterward.

Here are some tips on what to measure when configuring your rack:

It starts with the beams

Let’s start with the beam length and height. Before starting your measurements, determine how many pallets will rest on the rack. Will you store one, two or three pallets wide? What size of pallet will be stored on the rack? Are these the standard GMA 48” x 40” pallets or is it a different size? These are important questions.

First measure the length between the upright beams. What is that measurement? Remember, it is not the overall length, but the length of the beam between the uprights. For example, let’s say the width between the upright beams is 96”. That means if you store two 40” x 48” pallets per pallet rack, a total of 80” of width is used by the two pallets, leaving 16”. Building and fire codes require five inches of space between the upright and pallet along with another six inches between the two pallets. In other words, a 96” beam safely holds two standard pallets with the required spacing. While the beam may have the desired width, your measurements must consider the depth of the rack and pallet, too.

Why does rack depth matter?

Rack depth measuring requires consideration of pallet depth. Pallets should have overhang on the rack in front and in the back of the rack. Three inches is typical. Therefore, measure the distance from the front of the rack to the rear. Racks storing the standard pallet size (40″ x 48″) should have a depth of 42-inches. This provides the necessary three inches on both ends to allow for easy access by a forklift. Ease of forklift access should also determine height measurements.

Maximizing a pallet load is desirable. However, a pallet with product stacked snuggly in the rack presents problems for forklifts attempt to load and unload. This is why the rule of thumb takes in consideration of the height of the pallet plus the load and adding an additional four to six inches to the height so there is enough clearance between the pallet load and the beam above — the rack’s next level.

Measuring helps determine load

However, measuring the beam face also provides information on the [static] weight capacity for each level. In the example above, the length of the beam was 96”. Now, measure the beam face from the beam’s top to its bottom. This number, combined with the length, provide the load capacity range. Next, determine the beam’s gauge. It may be 14, 16 or another gauge. This information will provide you with a close approximation of static capacity per level.

Knowing these basic measurements will help you plan when it’s time to add new or reconfigure existing pallet racks. There are other items to consider such as number of levels on the rack, product to be stored and more.

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