Prevention is better than cure

We have all seen the clips on Facebook and YouTube where two bored warehouse operators race each other on wind-driven pallet jacks ending in complete disaster as you see the entire warehouse racking system come tumbling down and millions of Rands worth of stock being destroyed. Of course, we laugh it off, maybe even share it with friends or tag a mate who you could imagine doing the same thing, thinking that will never happen in my warehouse.

The scary thing is that it does – daily. Not the pallet jack races, well, at least we hope not, but certainly the bumping of your racking by your materials handling equipment. Every year hundreds of people are injured or killed because of rack collapses across the world. Many of which could have been prevented with proper warehouse racking maintenance programs. When racking starts coming down, even Usain Bolt would have a hard time outrunning it.

The cost is high – cleaning, replacement, new stock, downtime, lost sales, and more importantly, personal injuries.

Supply Chain Today speaks to Cullem McKay, co-owner of ROS International Rack Repair SA, to determine why repairing racking is essential and a significant cost saver.

Maintenance hasn’t been a focus

Repairing seems logical, but Cullem says there are too many cases in South Africa where racking is not maintained and becomes a safety hazard.

There weren’t many alternatives to maintain racking in the past, and companies often didn’t know what to do. “A blind eye was turned.”

“The problem when you turn a blind eye is that a rack that is slightly damaged and could be repaired today quickly turns out to be irreparable and dangerous with the next bump tomorrow,” Cullem notes.

“Insurers often call on us to investigate rack collapses. Unfortunately, we find that the collapse could have easily been avoided in most cases had proper preventative maintenance plans been in place. Worse still is when the customers did not know what weight their racking could safely carry.

“In South Africa, there are no legislated regulations or governing body on the safe manufacture, installation and maintenance of racking,” he says. One of the consequences is that regular inspections and maintenance of racking and shelving systems are often not carried out.

“In Europe, companies are obliged to have their racking inspected and certified annually by a qualified expert.” If you don’t have a valid certificate guaranteeing you’re racking as safe and confirming its carrying capacity, there can be numerous problems. For one, insurance companies may not cover you should an incident occur.

Inspecting and repairing their racking quarterly and then certifying it annually is a service that ROS International actively promotes to many of its International blue-chip customers. They, in turn, use this for preferential discounts from their insurers.

Cullem believes that South Africa needs its own standards.

A bump here, a bump there

Demand is high. Forklifts and humans are an interesting combination. Damage from the occasional bump is an everyday occurrence.  Accidents are inevitable; catastrophe does not have to be.

“Not every damaged upright can be repaired. However, our team of trained inspectors will assist you in identifying what is repairable and what not,” notes Cullem.

ROS offers a complimentary visual inspection of your racking system, providing you with a detailed defects report on your racking status. “We then present you with a proposal to rectify all the findings noted. Those that can be fixed will be repaired using the ROS International rack repair method, and those irreparable items will be replaced using original equipment manufacturers items. 

“We are trying to bring a level of professionalism to an industry plagued by back yard mechanics with no idea about international rack safety standards,” says Cullem.

The cost of a repair is significantly lower than replacement, not only direct costs but considerable savings in time. “We can do 15 to 20 repairs in a day,” Cullem says. Compare this to a replacement, “where you would be lucky to replace four uprights in a day.”

“On average, a repair will cost 80% of the replacement value, and in most cases, the racks do not need to be unloaded,” adds Cullem

The ROS International patented rack repair system has been available internationally for 12 years and locally in South Africa for six years. Growing from strength to strength, the company started with just three employees and a bakkie and now actively maintains more than 200 warehouses racking across South Africa, using a fleet of a dozen vehicles and more than 40 full-time staff. As a result, ROS International SA has quickly grown into the market leader in rack repair and maintenance in South Africa. 

Combined with their sister company, Optima Storage Solutions, which offers turnkey warehouse racking system design, supply, and installation, you have a company that can take care of every aspect of your storage requirements.

“We offer a unique service, from start to finish,” concludes Cullem. “And a guarantee to back up our quality products and services.”

Cullem McKay, 082 828 7615