Is Structural or Roll Formed Ideal For a Cold Storage Racking System?

Coolers and freezers present unique storage challenges. With cold temperatures and confined spaces, it is crucial to incorporate a cold storage racking system that can withstand harsh conditions and maximize floor space. If you are implementing a storage system in your cooler or freezer, here is information that can help you achieve this.

What is Ductile-Brittle Transition and How Can It Affect Your Racking System?

The Rack Manufacturer’s Institute stipulates that racking reaches what’s known as “ductile-brittle transition” at 0° Fahrenheit. This means that racking in an environment at or below this temperature is more sensitive to impact, increasing the likelihood of rack failure. While many coolers and freezers do not reach this extreme temperature, this points to the fact that as the temperature in a storage environment decreases, so does the toughness of the racking system. Thus, while strength and load carrying capacity are not affected, if a forklift or other vehicle were to hit the rack structure, the likelihood of damage and even collapse are more likely.

When Should Structural Steel Rack vs. Roll Formed Steel Rack Be Used?

Because of the effects of ductile-brittle transition, structural steel racking is recommended in coolers and freezers that use vehicles to access products. Why? Structural steel rack has greater frame strength and durability, allowing it to better withstand impact in these environments. This is due to the process of forming rack in this manner. Structural steel rack is hot rolled, it’s components are then welded together. In addition, the beams are bolted to the uprights. These two factors contribute to the overall strength of structural racking. It should also be noted that because structural steel rack is formed with an open back, it is easier to keep clean, as opposed to the “C” channel back of roll formed rack. This makes it more ideal for food storage applications overall. For operations that do hand-picking in a cooler or freezer, roll formed rack can be used. Because there is no risk of impact by a vehicle, the decreased toughness of the cold storage racking system is not a factor. Roll formed racking is cost effective compared to structural. Additionally, because the beams are attached to the uprights by inserting corresponding-shaped connectors as opposed to bolts, roll formed rack can be more easily adjusted and reconfigured.

Which Types of Pallet Racking Are Available in Structural and Roll Formed Steel? 

All pallet racking types can be manufactured from structural and roll formed steel, so no matter which type of steel you’ve identified as the best fit for your operation, there are several racking system options to choose from. Choosing the one that fits your product flow and characteristics of your inventory will ensure that your operation is at maximum efficiency.

FIFO Racking Systems

FIFO-Cold Storage Racking SystemIf you are storing goods that have a high turnover rate or expiration dates, consider first-in, first-out (FIFO) racking systems. FIFO allows for constant product movement, safeguarding that no inventory spoils or goes to waste. FIFO racking systems include selective rack, gravity flow rack, and drive-through rack. Selective pallet rack is ideal for warehouses or distribution centers with continuous product circulation. In these systems, pallets are loaded and unloaded from the front. Gravity flow systems include carton flow (for case-pick and piece-pick) and pallet flow. They are designed so that rack supported inclined rollers or wheels allow products to glide from the back-loading aisle to the front picking aisle. These gravity systems provide excellent volume utilization. Drive-through rack is designed to store pallets on support rails that are attached to uprights and are accessed by a lift truck that drives in to the system with the load elevated to the height of the rail. This provides high storage density by eliminating picking aisles. Drive-through helps maintain temperatures in cold storage by enabling dense storage of products and minimizing open spaces that allow cold to escape. Drive-through rack provides the lowest selectivity, but the highest density, of the FIFO options.

LIFO Racking Systems

LIFO-Cold Storage Racking System Last-in, first-out (LIFO) racking systems can also be used for cold storage. In general, LIFO systems have lower selectivity than FIFO systems, but provide higher density. Because of this, they are ideal for companies that need to maximize storage and have products that are not subject to expiration or deterioration. LIFO rack systems include push back rack and drive-in rack. Push back rack is ideal for cold storage facilities that require access to multiple groups of SKUs simultaneously. The rack supports carts that move along inclined rails. Product is loaded from the front of the system. Once the product is taken from the front cart, the next one moves forward. Drive-in rack offers high density and provides excellent space utilization. It eliminates the need for multiple aisles, helping to reduce overall square footage requirements. It works in a similar manner as drive-through rack, but one aisle is eliminated and therefore products are only accessible via one end of the system. This lowers the selectivity of drive-in rack but increases the density over drive-though.

As a full-service provider, REB Storage Systems International can provide you with a cold storage solution that fits the needs for your cooler or freezer. We provide all pallet racking options in both structural steel and roll formed steel. Through our project management services, we’ll manage your project from conception to completion, including designing the layout, sourcing materials, installation, and permitting support. For more information on how REB can provide the ideal cold storage solution for your facility, fill in the contact form or call (800) 252-5955.

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