Established for more than 25 years, Acorn Storage Equipment Ltd is a supplier, installer and specialist in pallet racking, shelving and mezzanine flooring.
The Kent-based company provides a full pallet racking service: from off-the-shelf new and used pallet racking and storage through to professional design, supply and installation of pallet storage systems.
Acorn attributes its success to adaptability, long-standing expertise and bespoke approach; whether its customers require a complete design and build service or simply the supply of high quality new or used pallet racking, Acorn Storage Equipment is the company of choice.
In January 2016, international beauty brand The Body Shop carried out stringent health and safety assessments of one of its main warehouses, based in Littlehampton, West Sussex.
The Body Shop’s West Sussex distribution centre, originally built in 1989, is a prime example of how the company has enhanced environmental safety for its employees following an incident of a pallet falling from height.
“Health and safety regulations are a lot stricter in 2016 and during our regular record keeping, several areas involving racking assessments were highlighted as a priority for concern,” said Rob Goodwin, physical process and quality manager for operations at The Body Shop.
Horizontal meshing installed on the racking in 2014 within the wider warehouse aisles allowed for the storage of smaller Euro pallets alongside larger standard sized pallets. Owing to the size of the Euro pallets, of 800mm, and the larger 900mm frame width of the racking, the size difference meant the space available was unsuitable.
Following on from the incident and carrying out a RCA (Route Cause Analysis) investigation, the conclusion of the findings was that the horizontal meshing had acted as a sliding board for any pallets that were lifted onto the shelving.
“The main problem that needed addressing was the health and safety of the pedestrians working in the racking aisles below,” explained Caleb Howard, senior sales engineer at Acorn Storage. “The wide aisles of The Body Shop’s warehouse have a lot of operatives –around 60-80 people – order picking on the ground level below, which meant the potential risk for pallet fall-through and for serious injury.”
With mesh on the racking shelves, the pallets were able to fall-out from a height of up to 10m onto both forklift operatives and staff order picking on the ground below.
Acorn Storage approached warehouse safety products supplier Warehouse Partners to provide a suitable solution that would reduce the number of pallet fall-though incidents at The Body Shop’s distribution centre.
“We asked our South of England preferred storage equipment supplier, Acorn Storage Equipment Ltd, if they could provide a suitable netting solution. They suggested working with Warehouse Partners,” said The Body Shop’s Rob Goodwin.
Acorn Storage has a well-established relationship with The Body Shop, one which has been successful for more than a decade. This relationship meant that The Body Shop was able to choose its supplier with confidence.
Acorn initially considered installing anti-collapse meshing as a viable solution to the racking problem. However, the lack of flexibility meant mesh panels would be easily damaged by falling pallets, therefore netting was suggested as a more forgiving solution for this particular application. The flexibility of the netting would also make it easier to fit around the existing sprinkler system.
“When we were approached by Warehouse Partners, we knew it was going to be a project of a significant size,” explained Caleb Howard, senior sales engineer at Acorn. “We presented a professional proposal which gave The Body Shop full confidence that we would be able to deliver the products required.”
Caleb Howard of Acorn Storage initially discussing the specifications required with The Body Shop and Warehouse Partners. The Body Shop then met the Acorn Storage team throughout January and February of 2016, with work starting in February. The project was completed in May 2016, with Acorn working on site for around four months.
“Acorn Storage introduced us to Warehouse Partners, premier provider of netting-based safety products, and the innovative RackNets system,” explained Rob Goodwin. “Based on our situation and pallet weights, they advised us on the netting density, strength and type required, and recommended the RackNets 3.0 system with 3mm nets and a load capacity of up to 1000kg. These would help separate the double racks into different units to make both racking sides safe.”
Developed to offer enhanced levels of protection, RackNets 3.0 is the very first comprehensive bespoke netting solution that will successfully contain the fall-out or fall-through of pallets/goods on any adjustable pallet racking system. Fall-out occurs when a pallet falls from the rear of a single-sided APR run, often into a pedestrian or pick aisle.
RackNets 3.0 Containment Net has been developed to offer warehouse users an effective alternative to traditional steel mesh solutions. The net’s inherent elasticity distributes the force of any impact throughout the system.
“The main changes that were made to the warehouse racking were the extension of the rack uprights and the addition of bracing members. This helped to allow the net to extend beyond the top pallet, maximising the safety benefits,” said Caleb Howard.
The RackNets system solution supplied by Acorn Storage and Warehouse Partners has helped to increase safety significantly at The Body Shop’s distribution centre. It has also reduced the risk of hazardous pallet fall-through incidents while not adversely impeding on day-to-day running of the operation.
Following successful completion, no other health and safety pallet racking incidents have occurred since the RackNets system was installed.
Caleb Howard is thrilled with the outcome of the project, and believes a good working relationship with both Warehouse Partners and The Body Shop helped to contribute to a strong outcome.
“The success of this project reinforces just how good the product and its key benefits actually are, and this has put our company in an excellent position in terms of supplying the RackNets solution,” he concluded. “As a result, Warehouse Partners has endorsed our services as the best in the country when it comes to installing this type of product.”