Apr 27, 2021

Pallet Rack Repair: Footplate Damage

Broken Hole Examples

This is part of Mac Rak’s comprehensive pallet racking inspection and repair process focusing on the pallet rack column footplate component. This is meant to serve as an educational guide to damage assessment and observations for an important component of your warehouse racking system. RMI standards state that inspections should be done by a qualified inspection expert, once you have made initial observations and feel you need an official inspection, please contact us at Mac Rak for a full detailed pallet rack inspection and repair.

4 Reasons Pallet Rack Footplates are Important

As the name suggests, a footplate sits at the base of a racking system. As a pallet racking system comprises vertical stacks of goods, keeping it stabilized is of utmost importance. Footplates sit at the bottom of a racking system, holding it firm to the ground. They also boost the overall stability of the rack by serving as the anchor point. The columns are attached to the floor by bolts that go through these footplates. The footplate serves several key functions:

  1. Keeps the racking system plumb, deviations from plumb can cause warehouse racking collapse
  2. Keeps the racking system in place in seismic events which can cause warehouse racking collapse
  3. Transfers impact force to ground, which prevents racking column damage and failure
  4. Serves as the foundation of the entire racking system, so if this one component fails or is out of engineering spec it can lead to warehouse racking collapse.

A Key Risk Factor for your Warehouse Racking System

Any damage done to the footplate could end up putting the entire system at risk. With a weakened footplate, the overall stability of the system will suffer. It will be more prone to higher levels of critical damage upon accidental impacts by forklifts and other pieces of machinery, while a single point of damage may seem unimportant. Remember the rack engineering is interdependent and several small weak points can accumulate and lead to a tipping point where severe incidents can occur. A strong footplate helps in keeping the structure of the system intact upon a collision, reducing the risks of critical occurrences like collapses. An unstable or damaged footplate will perform poorly in preventing such disasters. Alongside keeping the entire stack of racks in place, footplates also serve in transferring the load to the ground.

Upgrade Footplates and Anchors, Don’t Ignore

The importance of keeping your footplates in top condition is crucial for a healthy racking system. While inspecting a pallet racking system, many make the mistake of neglecting or ignoring the footplates and only getting the uprights inspected. Or making repairs and not upgrading the footplates in the process. In such cases, the strength of the uprights is increased but the footplates stay comparatively weaker. During an impact, the strengthened uprights deliver more force to the ground through the anchor points. If the footplates and anchors aren’t upgraded to complement the newly repaired uprights, they won’t be able to contain the force that’s getting transferred to the ground. Often when footplates are damaged, they are ignored and not repaired. This mistake could jeopardize the strength of your racking system.

Mac Rak Pallet Rack Repair Footplates 4 Times Better

Mac Rak components have gone through extensive testing and are engineered to exceed RMI standards. Mac Rak pallet rack repair kits have four engineered footplate innovations available.

  1. First, the footplates on our pallet rack repair kits all have their anchor holes shifted to a new location so that new anchor holes can be drilled to avoid placing anchors in damaged concrete holes. We even have models that increase the number of anchors holes so that you can chose the new anchor position.
  2. Second, the footplate steel is substantially thicker than most OEM parts making them more resistant to impact. On our most robust Advantage and Elite kits, we use standard ⅜” thick steel plate that are at least 4”x 12” in size (sizes vary based on engineering requirements).
  3. Third, in most of our pallet rack repair kits we use larger diameter and longer anchor bolts.
  4. Fourth, our anchors are positioned behind the reinforced column significantly reducing the chance that these anchors are ever impacted or sheared off by the forklift outriggers or the forks.

These more robust anchor bolts substantially increase the holding power and impact resistance of our pallet rack repair kits, by many times over OEM original stock footplates.

These four innovations make your racking system more resistant to impact and forces that could cause warehouse racking collapse. Mac Rak pallet rack repair kits give you a tremendous upgrade, and not a mere repair.

Elite Pallet Rack Repair Kit Vertical 2 Leg Detail

Mac Rak uses thick steel with multiple anchor positions and options

How to diagnose footplate damage in a racking system?

Just like every other metal component, footplates are also vulnerable to damage over time. This damage could either be the result of mishandling, i.e., incorrect or inefficient use of the racking system, accidental damage from impacts, or wear-and-tear during the passage of time. To assist you in diagnosing potential problems, let’s look at a few common causes of footplate damage.

Impact Damage

Impact from forklifts is the primary source of damage for footplates. It is important to inspect for impact damage of this type regularly, monthly, or quarterly depending on the size of your warehouse. Look for deflection caused by impacts. Deflection is where the anchor plate is twisted or pushed back from its correct square alignment. If the deflection is more than ½” you should repair it. As always, RMI standards suggest a qualified inspector should do official inspections of all damage.

Twisted Footplate Image

Deflection of more than 1/2″ is critical

Exposure to corrosion and rust

Over time, the properties of many metals tend to degrade. These degradations include appearance, loss of strength, and increased permeability to different gases and liquids. This degradation is known as corrosion.

Corrosion occurs when the metal is exposed to external environmental factors like acids, bases, water, oils, and other chemicals in solid or liquid forms. Just like every component made out of metals, footplates are vulnerable to corrosion, especially in rugged industrial environments where the above-mentioned factors are present in abundance.

Rust is a type of corrosion that’s specifically tied to the oxidation of iron or its alloys. When exposed to oxygen and moisture, iron and its alloys form a reddish-brown substance called rust. Rusting might start from one segment of the metallic piece, and eventually spread to disintegrate the entire component.

Footplates made out of iron and its alloys could degrade in quality because of rust, over time, due to prolonged exposure to moisture. The overall strength and integrity of a racking system might diminish tremendously if a major portion of the footplates suffers from rust or any other form of corrosion. Take note of any missing paint or covering of the steel. Mac Rak parts are powder coat painted for a more robust defense against corrosion.

Damaged anchor holes

During the test of time, the holes where the bolts of the footplates are secured, get damaged due to various factors like unusual loads and impacts. While inspecting the footplates, it’s essential to deeply analyze the condition of these anchor holes.

In most cases, these holes won’t be in a condition adequate for reuse. Installing the new anchors in the same holes might either turn out to be impossible due to disfigured concrete or could produce compromised end-results. Such a pallet racking system would be extremely prone to the high possibility of further damage — and even collapse. During repair, it’s crucial to look for repair parts with repositioned anchor points so new holes can be drilled.

Low-Quality Concrete

Concrete is the most commonly used building material. For reference, it’s used twice as much as every other building material combined. While using high-quality concrete is crucial for the integrity of every aspect of a building or surface, let’s be specific about its importance in sustaining a solid racking system.

Bearing the load of the entire racking system, footplates are attached to the floor made of concrete. The quality of the slab of concrete beneath the footplate directly determines the lifetime of the racking system. High-quality concrete is more likely to bear the constant load of the heavy goods stored in the racks, for longer periods.

If low-density concrete has been used in the construction of the floor underneath the footplates, it’s likely to disintegrate — and disrupt the strength of the racking system. Concrete can be assessed by a qualified engineer.

Smaller or Thinner Footplates

As the integrity of a pallet racking system is directly proportional to the strength of the footplates, a stronger footplate would naturally be able to stabilize the system in a better way. Thicker, heavier, and larger footplates can absorb larger accidental impacts and prevent damages.

Seismic applications are a major reason to use larger, thicker footplates. According to the geographical location of your facility, the seismic activity might vary. To conform to these seismic activities, you might need to use an even larger footplate to meet the seismic engineering standards. (RMI recommends consulting a professional engineer familiar with the design and construction of pallet rack)

Engineering Footplates and Seismic zones

seismic zones for pallet racking

Warehouse seismic zones

RMI, the Rack Manufacture’s Institute, states that racks should have a more robustly engineered footplate in areas prone to seismic activity. Seismic activity is designated by geography, engineering of a thicker and wider plate is dictated by this and other standards. Never assume you have the correctly engineered part, rather be sure to consult with an engineer prior to selecting footplates on racking systems. Mac Rak only recommends parts that are engineered for your specific seismic zone. Another reason to be sure that your inspections, parts and installation are engineered and installed by qualified professionals.

Weak or Loose anchor Bolts

Pallet Rack Repair Kit anchor bolts
Compare the 7” anchor to the 4.5” anchor, and you see the advantage of the larger anchor bolt.

7″ bolt on top, 4.5″ bolt on bottom

Anchor bolts are, obviously, one of the most crucial components of any footplate. RMI, (Rack Manufacturers Institute) recommends one anchor per footplate or whatever the manufacturer or engineer recommends for the specific application. They keep the footplate attached to the ground and keep the racking system in place. The quality of the concrete, and the strength of anchor bolts, collectively calculate the holding power. The best holding power values are achieved when you have the best-quality bolts secured into the highest-quality concrete. If the size of the underlying layer of concrete permits, bigger and high-diameter bolts are generally better in strengthening the system. Moreover, bigger bolts are more effective in countering the seismic activity of your area. Weaker bolts, especially when the load is high, diminish the structural integrity of the racking system, putting it at risk of potentially critical damage and collapse.

Loose anchor bolts on pallet rack column

Check also for any bolts that have come loose over time. Tighten them down to the correct torque suggested by the racking system engineering.

Sheared Welding Damage

Welds connecting the footplate to the column can be sheared off completely or partially. Be sure to inspect for this condition. Some times the footplate will not present with much of a deflection from its original square position, less than ½” but can still have damaged weld joints. Welding is also more prone to rust and corrosion according to Corrosionpeda

“The heating and cooling cycles arising from the welding process usually affect the surface and microstructure composition of the weld deposit and the adjacent base metal. This may reduce the corrosion resistance of both the base metal as well as the weld material.”

Pay special attention when inspecting for damage to the weld points on your footplates for both corrosion and shearing.

Sheared Footplate

Sheared weld on Rack Footplate

Let’s Talk Solutions

To keep your racking system intact, it’s essential to eliminate the possibility of every determining factor mentioned above.

  1. Have footplates and racking system inspected routinely once a month or quarterly depending on your warehouse use patterns and conditions.
  2. Be sure to check front and back footplates and to move materials if they are obstructing your observations.
  3. Be sure to get inspections done to RMI standards by a qualified professional inspector
  4. Utilize high-quality concrete during the construction of the underlying layer. If the neglect has already occurred, it’s advisable to seek Mac Rak’s professional help.
  5. Pay special attention to the drilling of new holes during the repair process.
  6. While repairing a racking system, Mac Rak’s footplates serve as the optimum balance of thickness and strength. Thicker footplate steel, more holes, new hole locations; your racking system would be at its best.
  7. Mac Rak will find and utilize the optimum anchor bolt size based on your needs and geographical location. Professional help from Mac Rak is advisable when dealing with such calculations.

Protection Before it is too Late

Another way to prevent footplate damage in key high traffic areas is to use Mac Rak Pallet Rack Guards. These protection parts surround your footplates with solid steel independently anchored to the concrete floor. Impact will be diverted and absorbed by the end of aisle guards or the column guards from Mac Rak. Mac Rak even has several models of column repair kits that have deflectors built in. This is a solid strategy to keep your warehouse running to maximum efficiency

pallet rack guards from mac rak

and reduce the need for repairs. Mac Rak experts can help you lay out a plan for protecting your warehouse.

Don’t Delay Rack Repair

Footplates are an essential component of a sturdy pallet racking system. It keeps the entire system intact and boosts its stability. Various factors contribute to a weaker footplate, diminishing the performance of the entire system. Mac Rak’s professional help is crucial while dealing with such problems efficiently. Don’t put off the inspection and repair process before it is too late. Make rack repair and inspection a routine part of your warehouse operations.