After groundbreaking research and development, the structural design team at Dematic has created a new drive-in rack system.  According to Dematic, the new drive-in system is the lowest cost solution for high density storage on the market, and the new design has been optimised by using stronger and bigger components, but less of them.
Drive-in pallet racking is the lowest cost and most popular form of high-density pallet storage. While providing excellent storage capacity, drive-in racking does restrict access, with the first pallet in being the last pallet out. Drive-in racking is ideal for many industry sectors including general manufacturing, food manufacturing and the cold storage industry.
According to Dr Murray Clarke, Dematic’s structural design manager, the challenge for the design team was to examine ways of improving the structural efficiency of the system and standardising the component designs and manufacturing processes whilst not compromising on load capacity or safety.
“Four years ago we sat down with a blank piece of paper and an overarching philosophy to make the drive-in system bigger, better and stronger whilst reducing the number of components to ensure it remained cost competitive,” said Clarke.
“We examined the key components and looked at ways of simplifying their design and manufacture, as well as installation. We started with the uprights, which were previously available in 90 mm and 110 mm configurations, and increased these to 125 mm and 150 mm in width. This has enabled us to reduce the number of uprights, cantilever brackets and beams in a system. At the same time, the components we have developed have applications in other areas such as mezzanine floors and high rise racking as well,” he said.
Probably the most innovative element of the new system is the new and patented pallet runner. According to Dr Paul Berry, senior structural engineer, the new pallet runner is the result of extensive theoretical analysis, supported by prototype testing, to optimise the design.
“We spent many hours examining the shape and configuration of the pallet runner, and we are confident we have designed the most advanced one in the world,” said Berry. “The new patented design is capable of large spans, easily managing spans of 2400 mm, and it minimises the vertical deflection and virtually eliminates horizontal deflection and twist. Also, the pallet runner is bolted from underneath, avoiding any catchpoints, and has holes punched at 50 mm intervals, providing greater flexibility in frame depth,” he said.
The new system also includes innovative, one-piece, formed cantilever brackets that wrap securely around the upright, ensuring negligible rotation under load. The streamlined ‘Protect-a-Rack’ wraps around the base of the upright with the angled profile deflecting impacts and the streamlined design maximising clear bay entry.
Heavy duty bracing connects symmetrically to the upright, which increases the strength and load-carrying capacity while reducing the amount of bracing needed. A backstop is positioned at the end of the pallet runner to prevent pallets being pushed too far into the depth of the rack, eliminating potential damage to spine bracing and further increasing safety. Heavy duty, purpose designed floor channels help guide the forklift, ensuring quick and easy alignment, safer handling, and greater protection of the rack.
“The inherent flexibility within the system’s design makes it modular and capable of accommodating most customer requirements, including custom pallets,” said Berry. “For example, we’ve had great success in the cold storage industry where pallet density is the key issue and we’ve had to construct the drive-in around cooling fans.  It hasn’t been a problem, and because everything is so modular we are able to provide faster installation times,” he said.
An additional tool developed by the Dematic team is the sophisticated design software program ‘Rackman’, short for rack manager.
“The ‘Rackman’ program provides Dematic and the Colby distributor network with a very valuable tool and a marked competitive advantage,” said Clarke. “By entering the customers’ requirements, we are able to configure the best and most cost effective storage solution. ‘Rackman’ configures the system and carries out advanced structural calculations to ensure it is compliant with design standards.
“The customer can tweak the design and change the height and weight of pallets and the program will check the design and calculate the required floor loading. Finally, the cost of the storage system is calculated, all in a matter of a few minutes. This would have taken hours not so long ago,” he said.
 “The market has responded in a positive manner to the new drive-in rack and we already have a number of happy customers in a range of installations, across a number of industries,” said Clarke.
Caption (1): Dr Murray Clarke (left) and Dr Paul Berry with the new drive-in rack system installed at Dematic’s Belrose manufacturing facility.
Two more images to come.
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