Signed and certified

Officially certified racking systems are becoming more common in South Africa. Certification gives the business owner, warehouse worker, and insurer peace of mind that the system is safe and in good condition. However, getting certification in the absence of local standards hasn’t always been easy. ROS International SA is changing that and recently trained two racking system inspectors to European standards to inspect, certify, and test racking and shelving. Supply Chain Today met Cullem McKay, co-owner of ROS International SA, to learn more about certifying racking systems locally.

The need for certification is growing

In the racking and shelving market for over ten years, Cullem and the team at ROS International SA noticed an increase in the need for certification. 

“Over the last five years, more of our customers wanted to certify their racking,” Cullem says. He identifies two reasons for this: safety and insurance.

“Companies need to know their warehouses are safe working areas,” Cullem explains, “and insurers need to know they are insuring a safe warehouse, with many insurers requiring certification before they will provide cover.”

Unlike Europe and the US, South Africa doesn’t have racking system standards, and in the past, certification could be outsourced to a structural engineer. However, identifying a gap in the market and a space where ROS International SA could offer a service to its customers, they took the step to accredit two representatives in European racking system standards, who can inspect, certify, and issue certificates that a racking system is in good condition.

It’s an exciting development for the company, which previously offered visual inspections as a complimentary service and outsourced certifications.

“We have always offered our customers a walk-through inspection and a repair service. Now we can offer certifications that meet insurers’ requirements as well,” Cullem says.

“We will come to your premises, do a walk-through inspection and quote for a full inspection and certification.” Cullem explains that you notice the obvious problems on a walk-through inspection, but you can miss things, for example, when pallets block a particular section of racking. “Walk-through inspections don’t look at how plumb the racking is or whether or no the racking has been designed to accommodate the load it is carrying,” he comments.

A certification inspection looks at everything, providing the customer with a detailed defects report and a specifications report. “Together, these reports provide customers with a clear view on what needs to be rectified and what their racking would be capable of loading, should these defects be rectified. Then, if repairs are necessary, we quote on this using the ROS rack repair system, or if we need to, replace with an OEM part,” Cullem says.

“When the racking is certified, we issue a racking certificate and fit new load signs capacity.”

Certifications are valid for twelve months.

Inspection and certification time varies depending on the size of the warehouse and condition of the racking system, the number of pallets and the environment – ambient or cold. A first-time inspection and certification can be fairly lengthy if the warehouse is in a state of disrepair. Cullem says a full report is issued within two weeks of an inspection.

Not about neglect

According to Cullem, racking systems in some warehouses are in bad condition, but he doesn’t believe this is because of neglect. “Companies don’t know that racking can be repaired quickly and easily, and usually at a low cost. So people turn a blind eye when they see small damage such as dents because they don’t know what to do – they may see the damage, but if the racking hasn’t fallen over, it’s business as usual.”

This means that a first time inspection and certification can be quite lengthy and pricey. Still, once it is done, ROS International SA inspects every three months, and further certifications are quicker. This is because minor problems are repaired quickly and don’t become big problems.

“We insist on entering into a formal agreement that we inspect the racking quarterly – as a complimentary service to our customers,” Cullem points out.

The certification doesn’t include a load test, but ROS International SA offers load testing from their new 1 000m2 premises in Alrode South, where they will collect a sample (beam, rack, and frame) and test it to confirm the load-carrying capacity. The test studio is currently being commissioned and has been exclusively designed for the company.

The services offered have proven popular with customers, as Cullem says: “We are incredibly busy.”

Despite the tough economic climate in South Africa, the demand for warehousing and logistics space is stable, according to JLL, sub-Saharan Africa. A drive along Gauteng’s N3 highway between Modderfontein and Buccleuch gives a good view of many new logistics facilities. As online and multi-channel shopping grows, the demand for fast delivery means warehouses must be in good working order with racking systems that allow for the safe and efficient moving of undamaged goods.

In conclusion, Cullem shares his top tips for taking care of racking systems:

Top tips for maintaining your racking system

  1. Have proper forklift driver training for drivers
  2. Check the quality of your pallets. When you receive goods from suppliers, check that you don’t have broken pallets that are damaged at the bottom, which can happen when forklifts place pallets on racking. This, in turn, can cause a collapse, with the racking system getting the blame when the pallet is at fault.
  3. Conduct regular internal inspections. ROS International SA can show you how to inspect your racking system.
  4. Certify your racking systems. Let the professionals take care of. This assures you that your racking can carry the loads it was intended to, that it is in good condition, and that your warehouse is safe. Should anything happen, the damage would be a result of a freak accident, not neglect.
  5. Don’t cannibalise your racking system – use OEM replacement components so you don’t have a mismatch.

Cullem McKay, 082 828 7615