Selecting Warehouse Shelving

Whether you plan on expanding, moving or replacing racking/shelving, here are three important considerations when planning for a shelving system.

1) Storage height capacity

It is important to get the most out of your warehouse space. This means taking advantage of a variety of solutions, including pallet racking, shelving systems, and vertical bulk storage systems. Useable vertical space depends on more than the ceiling height. The design must incorporate other factors like fire codes and structural concerns.

Consider the following for any Vertical Storage System:

Shelving and Racking below 8 ft. in height:

  • A building permit is not required as these units are considered to be shelving
  • Once the shelving is installed, the distance to the nearest exit shall comply with BC Building Code requirements.
  • No in rack sprinklers are required
  • No Engineering involvement is required

Shelving and Racking above 8ft. in height:

  • A building permit is required (see below)
  • Engineer of racking is required and you must submit drawings and seismic restraint review.
  • Depending on the commodity classification, the roof top sprinkler system should be reviewed by a registered professional to decide if an upgrade of the sprinkler system is necessary.

Shelving and Racking with a higher walking platform:

  • A building permit is required
  • Walking platform must be reinforced by the racking
  • Walking platform should be used for access to the racking, (no storage allowed on the walkway)
  • Engineer of racking is required and you must present structural drawings.
  • Floor area of the higher walking platform can’t be more than 40% of the open floor area inside the area – this a guideline only and it should be reviewed with a municipal plan checker
  • Fire detectors for building with existing fire alarm systems must be installed above and below the higher walking platform.
  • Depending on the commodity classification, roof top sprinklers should be reviewed by a registered professional to decide if an upgrade of the sprinkler system is necessary. This is very important

2)  Evaluate sprinkler system

Many owners do not find out until it is too late that the buildings sprinkler system may seriously limit the ability to maximize the buildings storage system in BC. The maximum allowable height of the storage system depends on the building’s design and type of goods stored. Fire protection systems are designed to suppress fires to a specific height. The height limitations depend on the product that is being stored and building codes.

•    Most building in B.C. have been designed to Ordinary Hazard Group 2 classification that allows a maximum height of storage to be 12ft.
•    For Class IV materials such as plastic, paints etc, a maximum height of storage allowed is 10ft.
•    Extra sprinklers may be required if commodity is highly combustible.

Your fire sprinkler engineer will be able to tell you the capacity of your system. Determine if you will need to increase the sprinkler capacity to handle additional storage capacity or can work around the existing fire protection system.

3) Building permits process

The province of British Columbia has specific building code requirements. Property owners and managers must follow these codes when installing storage solutions for new facilities or overhauling the storage capacity within an existing facility.
If you plan to relocate interior walls and partitions; move existing gas, electrical, or plumbing lines or make structural repairs, you will definitely need a building permit and at least one trade permit.
It is critical to understand the permit requirements and start the process as soon as possible. Failure to address this aspect of the project adequately can cause delays and prevent you from keeping your operations plans and schedule on track.

The permitting process ensures the design and structural integrity of your storage system. Companies like Hi-Cube specialize in storage systems in BC and provides consulting services that includes:
•    Leasing or pre-construction consultation
•    Certified engineered drawings
•    Comprehensive permit services

Professional in-house engineers and permit specialists can handle the permitting requirements including meeting with agents.

In summary, there are many storage options available for expanding, moving or replacing any storage system in BC. Evaluate your operations and collaborate with a trusted partner that has the necessary design and project management experience and a broad inventory of shelving solutions.