Welded vs. Bolted Rack – Choosing What’s Best For Your Warehouse

Welded vs. Bolted Rack

When going through the process of planning the construction of rack systems for warehouse applications, we are often asked which are the best construction methods to go with. The most common question is whether it’s best to use a welded or bolted system, and how do their capacity specifications fit the goals and expected budget? Let’s take a close look at the facts you need to be aware of when choosing which is best for you.

First off, let’s be clear. Both of these technologies are effective when building racks. Although the trend has been for North American companies to favor welded systems, as the rest of the world prefers bolted, it’s generally accepted to use either fastening technology that serves its capacity purpose. Neither system proves to be “better” or more structurally sound than the other. The real question becomes, what are the main advantages and disadvantages between the options in terms of cost and safety?

In terms of cost, bolted rack is cheaper to manufacture and ship, even in situations where the rack is pre-assembled. The labor cost involved in manufacturing welded rack remains much higher. If the application requires a galvanized finish, for both pharmaceutical or food handling, the cost of a welded system becomes much higher because welded uprights can only be galvanized after the rack is constructed. Additionally, the cost to ship is significantly less when going with a bolted system, and can often outweigh the labor cost for assembly. Bolted uprights can be shipped “knocked down”, and when compared to shipping welded uprights, the truck capacity can be as much as doubled.

We mentioned there is no clear difference on which technology is more structurally sound to support your product, there is an argument for a clear safety advantage in going with a bolted system in areas with higher seismic potential. If you think of a pallet rack structure in terms of its similarities between large buildings, which are most bolted together with steel frame, it makes sense to use bolted applications for their ability to flex and give. Generally, welded structures offer no ability to flex with subtle earth movement and become less ideal because their rigid nature is more likely to break. However, some experts maintain on welded systems with uprights that offset or slope back, or with seismic full-depth base plates, the structural integrity is stronger than bolted. It’s important to consider these things when performing an installation where seismic activity is a consideration.

Another major thing to consider is the cost to repair, and again bolted applications are usually less expensive to maintain. It’s much easier and cost efficient to unbolt and replaced bent or damaged bracing. The same repair on a bolted system requires cutting off the damaged piece with a torch, proving to be a more difficult and time consuming process.

At Culver Equipment, we specialize in and offer both welded and bolted rack systems to help meet your needs. For more questions regarding your warehouse rack project, you can rely on the experience and industry leading track record of Culver Equipment. With a strong history of supporting warehouse rack structures for some of the largest companies in the world, we know exactly what it takes to give you the best solution for your needs. Contact us for more details, and ask us more about our discounted used pallet rack available.

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