Legend has it that their was a pallet rack salesman (Let’s call him John) who would visit his customer and on the fly be able to estimate the amount of rack required in a given space and off the top of his head give a correct bill of material with piece prices and a final cost…including shipping. He would walk out of that sales call with a purchase order in hand!
I asked myself if I could do the same and with a little hesitation I said yes. I realize I would be taking a risk but I think it can still be done. What I would like to offer you now is a look behind the curtain to see how the mind of a rack salesman works. Let’s begin our virtual rack sales call.
Good afternoon, my name is Brad McNamee, President of Warehouse Rack & Shelf. I would like to ask you some questions before we walk out to your warehouse to look at the space. My questions will be divided into two categories: Micro & Macro. Micro looks at the pallet load and Macro looks at the warehouse space you are wanting to rack.
For starters, there is 2 way that this can go: You tell me the amount of space you are willing to give up for pallet rack and I can tell you how much rack is required and how many pallets will fit in that area; or you can tell me the amount of pallets you want to store and I can give you just enough rack to store it.
Micro Questions/ Regarding the Pallet & Load:
What is the total number of pallets you would like to store in this rack?
What is your pallet size? (width x length). The width is the side that that faces the aisle and the length is the side that goes into the rack. A 40″ wide x 48″ deep pallet is the most common size.
What is the average pallet load height, measured from the floor to the top of the load?
What is the average pallet weight? 1000 LBS or less, 2000 LBS, 2500 LBS, 3000 LBS or more?
Is there much load overhanging the sides of the pallet? If so, how much?
Macro Questions / Regarding the Space:
What is the footprint of the area that we will rack? (Length x width)
How much clear ceiling height is available? Are there obstructions like heating and air condition units we will have to account for?
What kind of aisle clearance do you need? This may be based on the size and style of lift truck you use. A stand up reach truck will require 9’+ aisle, a small sit down forklift requires 10’+, a large sit down forklift requires est. 12′ aisle.
What kind of forklift will you use to service the racks?
A comment about the floor space: We typically recommend that you put a single row or rack along a wall, than put an aisle, back to back row, aisle, back to back row, until you reach another wall. We would like the rack rows and aisles to go in the long direction to maximize space. We would also like the rack rows and aisles to go in the direction of the dock doors to increase speed and efficiency. We often like to bury building columns between the back to back rows and keep them out of the aisle.
After I have answered all of these questions I am able to use my rules of thumb about selective pallet rack to help me create a bill of material to complete the job. A good rule of thumb is that a standard section of rack utilizing a 96″ beam (two pallets wide) will require 99″ Centerlines. I am therefore able to determine how many sections I will need in order to create a row.
Using the cost estimates in my head for upright and beams (the two primary components of pallet rack) I am able to give you an accurate bill of material and cost per piece. With a calculator I am able to figure out the total material cost.