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The Impact of Cantilever Rack Design – Metal Flow

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Contributed by the experts at Ross Technology

Despite their obvious differences, metal sheet, plate, bar stock and lumber have several things in common when it comes to being stored on the floor – their large footprint takes up valuable manufacturing space, and they can be very difficult to find when stacked on top of each other or scattered in random locations throughout a plant. All of these materials can also pose a safety hazard for employees and are susceptible to damage from material handling equipment.

Without an organized storage and retrieval system in place, manufacturers can miss out on additional revenue opportunities or risk reduced profitability, a fact that is not insignificant given the razor-thin margins that many industrial companies face. Storing these materials on the floor ties up expensive real estate. If that’s not enough, costs increase when machines sit idle waiting for employees to locate the correct raw materials.

Fortunately, these challenges can easily be overcome with a good cantilever racking system. However, designing and choosing a system is not quite as easy as it would seem, especially considering the number of options available on the market.

For those who may be less familiar with cantilever racking, the beauty of the design lies in the fact that the arms are cantilevered, as the name suggests, and are not supported by shelf beams and columns along the aisle. The result is maximum flexibility for placing and removing elongated products with a forklift or sideloader because of the unobstructed access.

“The versatility of what can be stored on cantilever racking is pretty wide-ranging,” says Rod Smay, industrial storage product manager at Ross Technology. “Other types of racking can get the job done, but where this type of storage is really beneficial is for those long and bulky types of materials used in industrial manufacturing.”

Cantilever racks are also available with numerous options that enhance their flexibility even further. Bolted arm connections allow future adaptability in accommodating a variety of load heights as facility storage needs change, while stop bars are also available for preventing materials from sliding or rolling off the rack arms.

Looking Beyond Raw Weight

When designing a cantilever rack system, the maximum load capacity is often the first criteria discussed and the feature that garners the most attention. While this is certainly an important consideration for many good reasons, buyers should also look beyond the raw weight a given system is capable of handling and be aware of the type of steel used to support that weight, and how the system is designed to handle uneven loading.

Kilopounds per square inch is the unit of measure that refers to a steel’s yield strength, the amount of stress it can endure before permanently deforming. The higher the KSI, the stronger the steel is and the more bundles of product it can support before permanent deformation is evident.

“A cantilever rack system should have an uptilt angle of 2 degrees,” says Tracy Buck, industrial storage sales engineer. “That leaves room for some deflection when heavy materials are placed on the cantilever arms.” Over time, as product gets loaded and unloaded repeatedly, you’ll start to see some deformation in a cheaper grade of steel. A higher KSI steel will continue to bring that arm back to its 2-degree uptilt.

Utilizing steel with a higher KSI also allows the rack design to handle heavier loads with less mass. For example, a cantilevered arm with 36 KSI steel will need to be larger to handle the same amount of weight as an arm fabricated out of 50 KSI steel. For this reason, choosing a system built with 50 KSI steel can help save space.

In the case of double-sided cantilever racks, another important consideration is to ensure the system is engineered to support uneven loading, as there are definite safety risks involved if this is not properly addressed in the rack design. Double-sided cantilever rack systems should be designed so that the rack can be fully loaded on one side while the other remains empty, a condition that frequently occurs when loading a system for the first time.

Narrow Aisle Design Maximizes Efficiency

Cantilever racking can do wonders for organizing inventory and improving operating efficiency, but it’s not the only investment to consider when addressing storage headaches. In many respects, the benefits of cantilever racking can be limited by the equipment being used to load it. Pairing a quality cantilever racking system with suitable material handling equipment is where peak efficiency will really be achieved.

Selecting a narrow aisle cantilever rack along with a sideloader is a great way to minimize retrieval time, as well as reduce aisle size. For example, transporting a 24-foot-long bundle of pipe, a forklift—perfectly capable of handling the bundle—still requires aisles of 30 feet or wider to maneuver the 24-foot-long bundle down the aisle, turn to face the racking and load it onto the arms.

A sideloader, on the other hand, requires approximately 10 feet of aisle space to accomplish the same objective. The simple choice of pairing the most effective piece of equipment with the proper storage solution makes the entire operation much more efficient from the retrieval time to the use of floor space.

Choosing the Best Solution

While cantilever racking is the best solution to improve efficiencies for storing many industrial products, not all cantilever racking is made the same, and buyers should understand the differences.

Ultimately the best cantilever racks offer manufacturers and distributors the opportunity to maximize operational efficiency, reduce machine downtime, optimize the use of storage space, improve safety and reduce material damage.

Optimize your operations and meet all of your industrial-sized storage requirements with the strength and efficiency of Dexco racks.

Ross Technology, Leola, Pa., builds cantilever rack systems under the Dexco name. For more information, call 800-345-8170 or visit www.rosstechnology.com.