When creating a pallet rack design in your warehouse, or finding new spaces to store additional inventory, dock doors can play a huge role in restricting space. Not only do dock door spaces create a high traffic area and therefore aren't usually seen as primary spots for pallet racking, a lot of state or city regulations also require racking to be a certain distance from the front of any dock door. However, one of material handling's best kept secrets is providing an over-the-dock door pallet racking system.
This concept of pallet rack design is almost as simple as it sounds. It is standard pallet rack that is installed along the wall of your dock doors, with beam elevations high enough to accommodate dock door and fork truck heights. However, there are quite a few options to consider when picking an over-the-dock door rack solution.
1. Uprights (slant-back & set-back)
The first and probably most important thing to consider when deciding to stand uprights near your dock doors is the turn radius required for your fork truck drivers loading and unloading inventory. If, for some reason, a tight turn radius is required, set-back or slant-back uprights are a safe option to prevent accidents and damage. Slant-back and set-back uprights will bring the front column of the upright towards the back column allowing a tighter turn radius for the forks on the fork truck.
This option will be a higher cost and will most likely require adding wall or ceiling mount supports for structural purposes. However, it will significantly reduce the amount of accidents and damage to your uprights.
2. Upright Safety Guards
If the option of using slant-back or set-back uprights is beyond your budget, a second option would be to provide upright safety guards to the lower portion of your uprights. This option won't necessarily prevent fork truck accidents, but will provide additional protection and reinforcement to your uprights in case of one. The biggest benefit of this option is the upfront cost savings from using standard uprights.
In addition, upright safety guards have a great return on investment. The average cost of any safety guard is at least half the cost of the labor to replace or repair any size upright.
3. Load Fall Protection
Most over-the-dock door storage is designed to stand 1' - 2' away from the dock doors. This is to accommodate any door frames or door motors that are part of the door structure and design. This creates a potential fall hazard between the wall and the rack, since the inventory that will be loaded onto this rack could fall and injure an employee working underneath.
Fall protection is highly suggested when designing an over-the-dock door pallet racking system. Fall protection typically comes in many different forms: mesh partitions, rack netting, or back-stop beams. These forms all have their own pros and cons, but in general will help prevent any pallet load from falling off the back of the rack.
All in all, an over-the-dock door pallet rack storage system can provide additional storage space in a way that might not immediately jump to mind.