Raising the Bar: Pallet Rack Systems Must Now Meet Robust Seismic Standards

Description

As with anything dealing with earthquakes, the issue began in California: Building codes came into effect which demanded that pallet rack systems be sturdy enough to withstand earthquakes without collapsing, cracking or otherwise malfunctioning. But what began in California is now spreading nationwide as regions like northern New Jersey, South Carolina, Massachusetts, Memphis, St. Louis, Buffalo and Atlanta require pallet rack systems built to seismic specifications.

The City of Los Angeles, for example, already demands that pallet storage racks installed within the city meet rigorous standards, and proof of meeting of these standards can only be shown through the attainment of a City of Los Angeles Fabricator's License. While California, and specifically Los Angeles, is located in the most earthquake-prone area in the United States, other earthquake-prone municipalities are following suit and demanding that pallet rack manufacturers meet seismic standards as well.

Obtaining a City of Los Angeles Fabricator's License signifies that a manufacturer's quality control and fabrication methods meet the strict standards set forth by the City of Los Angeles. Manufacturing supervisors are tested for their knowledge of quality control, fabrication and welding, and all welders must be certified on an ongoing basis in regards to conformance to American Welding Society (AWS) standards. In 1996, Steel King’s Stevens Point, WI facility achieved the status of City of Los Angeles licensed fabricator. Since then, all three of its manufacturing plants have received this status.

Recently, material handling systems integrator Granite Distributions Solutions Inc. obtained a contract for a California customer whose facility was located near a seismic fault line, which meant the already stiff standards were further increased. For the racking needs of this project, Granite Distribution Solutions turned to Steel King, a leading manufacturer of pallet rack systems and other material handling solutions.

“Anything we do for the west coast, in terms of racking or mezzanines, requires structural design approval by a State registered structural engineer. The approved, engineered drawings and calculation package must be submitted for permitting to the city or the county where the project is located,” says Doug Hayden, vice president of Granite Distribution Solutions. “This project had to be designed around a Na=1.4 near-fault seismic factor? meaning the standards were increased by 40% above normal seismic requirements due to the warehouse’s location.”

According to Arlin Keck, corporate engineer at Steel King, “Our material not only meets the standard RMI [Rack Manufacturer's Institute] specifications for industrial steel storage racks, but also conforms to the current prevailing building codes, which include seismic standards, and now has met the high standards necessary to obtain the City of Los Angeles Fabricator's License. All our roll-formed and structural pallet racks can be built to these specifications.”

Keck also added, “Our SK2000 roll-formed product line is better suited for seismic zones, due to our already heavy horizontal bracing and tubular column uprights.” “Steel King’s pallet rack systems fully met the seismic standards required for the project,” says Hayden. “They were an integral part in making the project a success.”
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