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SEMA guidance on Load Notices displayed on storage systems

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17 May 2016

SEMA guidance on Load Notices displayed on storage systems

Alan Worrell of SEMA’s Technical Committee offers guidance on Load Notices displayed on storage systems

Loaded pallets stored in a warehouse can be up to 1.5 tonnes with a typical pallet weighing about one tonne – the same as a small car. If a pallet falls from 10 metres, it will take a matter of seconds to hit the floor and by then, will be travelling at around 30mph when it does.

The SEMA load notice is a key safety item intended to give out the main safety messages, deliver key pieces of specific information and be easily read by workers on the shop floor as they carry out their normal duties. It shows who supplied the equipment, whom to contact and there should be a SEMA Load Notice on every SEMA installation. But the SEMA load notice does not give every last piece of safety information and does not in any way replace formal training. Sadly, the load notice is often misunderstood and abused.

The SEMA load notice is split into three parts: general safety instructions, specific information to that installation and administrative information.

General information section
The top pictogram in the general safety instructions are a warning to make sure that regular inspections are carried out, that the rack is being used correctly and that the rack is not damaged. The second is an instruction to report all damage. This means that a damaged rack can be taken out of use if necessary. The third is a prohibition. If you want to alter the rack then check with the supplier before making the change not afterwards. The fourth is a prohibition against climbing the equipment. Racking and shelving is not intended to be climbed and some equipment might topple over if climbed. The fifth is a useful information source. The last sign is a warning. The supplier knows the limitations of the equipment. So contact them if you’re unsure.

Specific information section
The specific information part of the load notice gives information that is relevant to the particular installation and is intended to make sure that the equipment is loaded within its limitations. The rectangles show the number and weight of pallets that can be placed on the  beams – in this example that are 2 pallets per compartment with a maximum weight of 1000kg each.

The Bay load triangle shows the limiting weight of all the pallets supported by the beams added together. The position of the beams is critical.

In the case of pallet racking and some other types of storage equipment, the height between the beams and the height of the first beam above the floor is crucial to the carrying capacity of the rack. The rack is designed with particular dimensions and, if these dimensions are changed, the effect on carrying capacity can be devastating. For example, if the bottom beam is removed the carrying capacity of the rack can be halved. So, it is important to make sure that these dimensions are as given on the load notice otherwise the rack could easily be unsafe.

Loads need to be uniformly distributed.  It is not normally assumed that the loads are evenly spread out along and between the beams. If this is not true, then the beams could be overloaded. Normal pallets will provide a uniformly distributed load but some other goods such as drums, coils or odd shaped goods might not.

A frequently asked question is: "If I have two lots of 1000kg pallets per beam level and I have four beam levels then is the safe bayload 8000kg?“ The answer is “Not necessarily”. In this example, we show how to interpret the load information.  Most pallets here weigh between 500kg and 800kg, but there are also a small number of 1000kg pallets.  For ease of use, the warehouse wants to store the 1000kg anywhere (hence all beams designed for two ×1000kg pallets) but, for an economical rack, not all the 1000kg pallets are put in same place.

So, assume that our rack has four beam levels. The rack illustration here with four beam levels shows a safe bayload totalling 5000kg not 8000kg. Remember that the loads must be less than both the safe beams loads and the safe bay load!

Administrative information section
The load notice also includes some administrative information on the supplier of the racking and can help answer queries about the storage equipment.

Although SEMA has a number of groups within the organisation, only two logos are relevant to load notices; the SEMA Distributor Company logo means that the product has been supplied by a member of the SEMA Distributors’ Group and was manufactured by a SEMA manufacturer.  The SEMA logo indicates that the product was supplied and manufactured by a SEMA manufacturer. Any other SEMA logo on the Load Notice has no meaning.

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