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Wire Mesh Deck Capacities

In a lifelong career of industrial sales and customer service, I’ve come to understand that sharing what we learn can make us more responsible salespeople. Case in point: the regulations and standards that affect how we conduct ourselves in business, industry and our personal lives. Whether OSHA, MSHA, NFPA, FAA, ANSI, SAE or UL, you will find safety standards and laws that protect people and property. The same is true in the manufacturing of material handling products.

Since returning to work in the material handling industry, primarily wire mesh decking and containers, I’ve become familiar with the ANSI standards that outline safe design and use of those products.

Pallet Rack Decking
The testing standard for pallet rack decking, ANSI/MH26.2, defines parameters of acceptable deck deflection at 1.5 times the rated capacity, and at 2 times the capacity sustained for 5 minutes. All are to be tested with a uniformly distributed load (UDL).

An example is the basic, standard 42 in. x 46 in. wire deck for step beam pallet rack, with three channels and a stated capacity of 2,500 pounds. The ANSI standard states:

  • On the first test, the deck loaded at 2,500 pounds should not deflect more than 0.25 inches.
  • On the second test, after being loaded at 1.5 times its rated capacity (3,750 pounds), the deck, when unloaded, should not have a remaining or residual deflection of more than 0.030 inches.
  • On the final test, the deck should support 2 times its capacity (5,000 pounds) for 5 minutes without structural collapse.

One of the fundamentals that becomes readily apparent after testing multiple decks of varying sizes and types is that the channels themselves are the primary determinant of the rated capacity of a given deck. The main factors are the following:

  • The number of channels,
  • The gauge or girth of the steel used in the channel, and Whether the channel is profiled for a step beam versus a box or structural beam application. For box and structural beams, the same deck with 3 flared-channels when tested to ANSI/MH26.2 will have a rated capacity about 10% less than its step beam counterpart.

How Much Capacity?
After numerous discussions around the country with dealer principals, salespeople and end-users, it became apparent to me that many of the people in the distribution channel had little or no knowledge of what constitutes an acceptable ANSI/MH product in terms of capacity or material content. When I first returned to the material handling industry about a year and a half ago, this would be a topic of conversation about once a month. Now I have the same conversation with salespeople several times a week!

There really is no mystery as to why this has come about. In all facets of the material handling industry, competition drives the market. Eventually, in today’s economy, price is the key determinant in securing a sales order.

And what better way to reduce the cost of a deck than by eliminating material cost by reducing the gauge or diameter of the channel and/or the wire that comprise the deck. But are decking manufacturers in our industry as equally willing to acknowledge and then serve up the decrease in rated capacity that goes hand-in-hand with a deck that has less material?

Easy to Fudge
The end-user truly gets what he pays for when he buys a wire deck. The laws of physics and metallurgy determine the rated capacity a given deck will yield when loaded. Manufacturers and distributors alike are responsible to the industry and to end-users to uphold the safety standards of our industry. Unfortunately, the two-times (2X) safety factor before structural collapse that is built into the ANSI standard makes it “safe” for a manufacturer to fudge and make the “overrated” claim at the same time he is reducing the material content of the deck. Be informed about the products you sell.

I prefer to think that professionalism would drive any responsible sales organization to provide a safe product, just as they would use a UL-approved electrical appliance, fly on an airliner maintained under FAA regulations, or operate a service shop that observes OSHA regulations. I would also prefer to believe that the majority of manufacturers are responsible and would substantiate their decking capacity claims, but perhaps our industry has a long way to go in an economic environment that is an incubator for cutting corners.

Now my question to you is, “Are you a good student of our industry?”

Material Handling Equipment Distributors Association

Steve Marcozzi Meet the Author
Steve Marcozzi is national sales manager at AWP Industries.

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