How to Measure Pallet Racks

11 October 2019

Whether you need to adapt your warehouse to fit the reception and storage of palletized goods or you’re looking to acquire a pallet rack framework that fits your custom space, figuring out the exact measurements for your pallet racks will save you a lot of expenses.

To determine what size pallet racks fit your needs the best, you’ll have to know the exact rack configuration you’re looking for, as well as the maximum upright height. Just follow this guide in order to find out how you can measure pallet racks on your own.

Determining Beam Measurements

Your starting point for these measurements should be the size of the pallet you wish to store. Pallets are used to ship goods worldwide, so there are at least 6 regional and industry specific variations, such as the 1016x1219cm (40x48in) North American GMA or the 1000×1200 (39.37×47.24in) European.

After you obtain the exact measurements of the pallets used by your suppliers, the next step is to calculate the depth, height, and width of your largest load. To do this, you’ll have to add the measurements of your shipped goods to that of the pallet itself.

To illustrate how you can do this on your own, let’s assume that you are working with a standard GMA pallet. This means we have 40 inches in width, 48 in length, and 6 in height.

  1. Rack or front-to-back depth. As a rule, around 3 inches of overhang is assumed on both the front and the back of the system, so, for a GMA pallet, you should subtract 6 from the length of your pallet. In our case, that’s 48, so you’re looking at a depth of 42 inches.

  2. Beam width. Assuming that you’ll be loading two pallets per rack, your beam width must exceed 80 inches. If any compliance laws are active in the region, then you need to also factor those into your calculations. In the U.S., fire codes usually require 5 inches of space between the upright beam and the pallet, as well as 6 inches in-between your two pallets. Adding it all up, your compliant beam width should be 96 inches.

  3. Beam capacity. Last, but definitely not least, you need to know how much you’ll be storing on each beam. To do this, just multiply your biggest load by the amount of pallets on each rack. The assumption of the rated capacity works with any given pair of beams, rather than on a per-beam basis. If your heaviest pallet is 5,000lbs, your beam capacity needs to be at least 10,000lbs to safely withstand the weight.

How Tall Will the Racks Be?

Now that you know how much weight you want to store, as well as the width and depth of your racks, the last thing you need to do is figure out how tall you want your pallet racks to be. A higher framework will require sturdier materials, as you’ll likely want to store more overall weight on it. This is how you do it:

  1. Multiply the total height of a loaded pallet by the number of stacked pallets minus one. For instance, if you’re looking to store 4 GMA pallets with a load that is 43-44 inches high, then your total load height per pallet is 50 inches. You then multiply this number by the number of pallets you want to store vertically minus one. For a rack that goes 4 pallets high, multiply 50 x (4-1), so 50×3. The end result is 150in.

  2. To this, you have to add the number of pallets high minus one pallet times 10 inches (for safety precautions). In our case, that’s 3×10 inches, so another 30 inches. In total, you’re looking at a height of 150+30, so 180 inches for our example.

  3. For those looking to also store pallets on the ground level, this number will be slightly higher.

It might take a bit of time to get all of this together, but the end result is well worth your effort. With these measurements in mind, you can get a more feasible quota from your rack manufacturer and talk to them about the total costs of ordering and installing the pallet racks in your warehouse.