Pallet racking beams are horizontal profiles used to hold goods in a racking system

Pallet racking beams: characteristics and functions

13 Jul 2023

Racking beams are one of the basic elements of metal racking systems installed in warehouses. They serve the fundamental purpose of supporting the weight of the goods.

Metal racking is a warehouse storage solution consisting of structural elements — uprights, beams and frames — and accessories to ensure smooth logistics operations.

What are pallet racking beams?

Racking beams are horizontal profiles that serve to support pallets and their loads. Connected to vertical frames, these elements distribute the weight of the goods evenly on the racking.

Beams are a key component of adjustable pallet racking. They are one piece of a larger structure that includes frames (vertical elements formed by two or more uprights), shims to level uneven flooring and anchor bolts to secure the racking to the slab.

Basic components of an adjustable pallet racking system
Basic adjustable pallet racking components

Racking beam characteristics

Warehouse racking beams are usually made of steel, which gives them high strength and durability to support heavy loads. They’re also adjustable, meaning they can be positioned along the height of the vertical frames to accommodate different pallet sizes and adapt to logistics needs.

Racking beams are connected to uprights by means of endplates that fit into the slots on the post for greater structural stability. The endplates are equipped with safety devices that minimise the consequences of potential handling equipment misuse.

Pallet racking not only accommodates standard pallets but also other types of products like containers, pallets of diverse sizes and quality, boxes and large loose packages. In these cases, racking beams can incorporate additional accessories such as shelving or any other kind of support element to hold the goods securely on the racking.

Two support bars are used per container, one on each side
Two support bars are used per container, one on each side

Calculation and design of the beams

The elements that make up the racking — beams, frames and the materials used to manufacture them — must meet specific standards and undergo tests to ensure the optimal performance of the storage system.

In Europe, storage system designers rely on standards like EN 15512:2020, EN 15620, EN 15629, and EN 15635, among others, to define crucial aspects such as manufacturing tolerances, assembly procedures, safe operation and maintenance guidelines.

For instance, EN 15620 provides information on the necessary clearances between pallets. The height between levels is calculated by taking into account variables such as pallet dimensions (including the load), beam height and the handling equipment used to move the goods.

Meanwhile, EN 15512 states that beams must undergo bending tests to analyse their deformation under stress. Shear tests are also performed on the connections between the beams and frames to ensure that the safety devices are effective enough.

Pallet racking beam types (plus shelving)

At Mecalux, we offer a wide range of beams that cater to numerous needs in terms of load dimensions, type and capacity. Typically, racking beams come in two varieties:

  • Tubular beams. These are made of a single roll-formed tube and welded to two endplates, one on each side.
  • 2C-S beams. These consist of two C-shaped profiles fit into each other and welded to the endplates.

Logistics facilities that combine pallet and carton storage can incorporate shelving to store the goods and perform order picking. In this type of storage solution, special profiled picking beams are installed to support the shelving.

Picking beams for combining pallet storage with shelving
Picking beams for combining pallet storage with shelving

Acting as reinforcements, shelves provide additional support for the pallets placed on the beams. There are several types of shelving available to meet any requirement:

  • Wire mesh. These comprise rectangular electro-welded mesh and support bars that add rigidity.
  • Metal. These are fitted to the beams without the need for fastening mechanisms.
  • Wooden. These shelves may call for additional beam stops and reinforcement support bars depending on the load to be supported.
Racking beams with different types of shelving: wire mesh (left), metal (middle) and wooden (right)
Racking beams with different types of shelving: wire mesh (left), metal (middle) and wooden (right)

Wire mesh shelving is the variety most commonly found in logistics facilities because of its numerous advantages. Namely, it improves airflow and allows for better light penetration.

It’s generally placed on the upper levels of the shelving for two main reasons: to prevent possible goods spillage and enhance visibility for the operators who store and retrieve products from their locations.

Racking beams: a critical storage system component

Structural pallet racking beams are an integral element of metal racking. Like other storage components, racking beams are put through rigorous testing and quality control checks to meet international standards and ensure the smooth functioning of the system.

At Mecalux, we have long-standing expertise in designing storage solutions for all kinds of companies. Mecalux’s racking can be tailored to even the most demanding logistics requirements. Get in touch, and we’ll analyse your warehouse’s characteristics to design the best solution for your business.

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