Securing Rack Supported Pick Modules: Chose the Right Solution
Okay, so you understand that OSHA mandates that pallet drop areas above 48” off the ground need to be secured, that the new ANSI standards for fall protection require a barrier to be in place at all times for pallet drop areas 36" off the ground and that the best way to achieve this is with a counterbalanced dual-gate system. If you know all this and understand that the same hazard and solution apply to rack-supported pick modules, then congratulations, you are well informed.
But, do you also know that there are specialized pallet drop safety gate systems designed specifically for picking areas and empty pallet/empty tote return lanes in pick modules? If so, give yourself a pat on the back. How many of these systems are you familiar with, and do you know the difference between them?
Dual-gate systems secure pallet drop areas by using a gate at the ledge with a second gate behind the pallet, and these two gates are counterbalanced and interconnected so one gate is always closed, separating the operator from the ledge. Versions of mezzanine safety gate systems are designed specifically for pallet drop areas in rack systems, utilizing the existing pallet rack into the frame of the design. By attaching to the existing rack uprights, the gate system doesn’t use support frames that need to be bolted into the decking, and take up valuable space in the rack bay where it can be damaged by lift truck abuse.
There are several pallet drop safety gate designs available in a rack-supported configuration, but which one is right for you and your application?
The original rack-supported pallet drop safety gate was the Rack-Supported Roly gate. This system uses gates that travel in a track system and connected with a chain and sprocket drive system. The gates travel up and down in the track and roll into the pallet drop area. The advantage of this system is that the gates open and close within the confines of the pallet drop area so the gate at the ledge opens and closes flush with the ledge and the rear gate is flush with the rear uprights of the system. The gates never extend into the truck or picking aisle. The Rack Supported Roly safety gate is often the best solution in a multi-level system so the gates on the lower levels do not interfere with the truck loading the upper levels. Please note, however that a typical upright is only around 48” deep and there needs to be clearances around the 48” deep pallet, so the safety gate is typically designed around 56” deep. This means the rear frame of the safety gate must be permanently positioned behind the upright.
The Rack-Supported Pivot safety gate uses a pivoting framework to provide a safe environment. Because of this, the rear gate pivots back beyond the upright to secure the pallet, then moves out of the way when the ledge gate is closed. This eliminates the need for a permanent structure to be located behind the upright. However, by design this type of pallet drop safety gate will extend out into the truck aisle and back into the picking aisle when the gate is operated. With this design, you want to make sure the moving gates will not interfere with the truck aisle, and that there is adequate clearance behind the pallet drop area. Note that the space required for this operation may be an issue if the takeaway conveyor is located right behind the pallet drop area.
If depth on the platform is limited due to the location of the conveyor or a narrow aisle, then your best safety gate solution may be the Rack-Supported Tri-Side gate. This safety system uses a gate that moves straight up and down at the ledge - never extending into the lift truck aisle, and a rear ‘u’-shaped gate that closes to capture the pallet then moves up and out of the way to provide egress behind the area.
All of these Rack Supported safety systems attach directly to the rack-uprights for a solid connection that doesn’t need to be lagged down. They can all be designed to fit the specific rack configuration (upright depth and beam length), and are constructed to match the punching in the rack for an easy, secure connection that doesn’t require any drilling into the rack components. They can be designed in multiple pallet widths or depths, and can accommodate pallet flow lanes. Manual operation is standard, but power operation can be added for remote operations from the lower levels or lift truck.
Don’t forget to look at your pick modules when reviewing the safety in your facility, and know that there are guarding solutions specifically created to integrate with these systems. Give us a call and we’ll let you know which pallet drop safety gate design works best for your application. If we get lucky, then none of our gates will fit your unique area, and if so we’ll design one that does.