SEMA Racking Design Code – what it means to the industry

A racking installation is a carefully designed engineering structure and ideally you want it to fulfil a number of criteria; your structure should be suitable for the intended purpose, offer longevity and give you no cause for concern. The wish list is hardly a big ask, but as a fully loaded, highly stressed piece of engineering how do you make sure your racking fits the bill?

Correct Racking Design

When planning your warehouse initially the layout of the racking is determined based on the throughput requirement of the warehouse however, considerations must also be given to the end-user operational “need”. Throughout the process, codes are used to ensure that the racking can work correctly with the other equipment and fulfil the desired requirements.

Design codes are specialist, but the purpose is simple, to make sure that we can have a reasonable level of confidence that the rack will stand up when it is used for its intended purpose. The codes give guidance on how to do the structural analysis, what types of load must be considered, how to test components and what factors of safety are required.

Within the UK, quality assurance of your racking system comes when it has been designed to either the SEMA Code or the European Code EN 15512 (at least under the SEMA Quality Scheme). The SEMA Design Codes have been written specifically to reflect racking systems designed and maintained in the UK market. It is acceptable to buy or sell storage equipment in the UK that has been designed to either of these codes.

What is the SEMA Design Code?

SEMA has been advising the racking industry for over 50 years, providing a source of reassurance to with regard to the safe design, installation and use of storage equipment. SEMA has developed a series of design codes covering both static and other pallet racking types together with formal publications for both low and high-rise static steel shelving. Its codes also cover mobile racking, mobile shelving systems together with cantilever racking systems and the design and use of racking protection.

First published in 1980, the SEMA Design Code has a long history of providing racking with a high level of safety and many warehouses in the UK will have at least some of their racking designed to this standard. Responding to changes in technology and methodology the SEMA Design Code was substantially reviewed and updated in 2008 taking into account new design procedures and with an emphasis on a risk-based method where safety factors are used to take into account the effect of different loads considered in the design. A revised version was issued in 2014. Current and previous editions of the SEMA Design Code are available through from SEMA although it is worth noting that the original 1980 version will be formally withdrawn at the end of 2020.

Quality Assured

Unique to the UK market the SEMA Quality Assurance Scheme (QAS 2000) is an ongoing initiative which requires SEMA Members to undertake third-party assessments. Commissioned by SEMA manufacturers, the University of Salford’s Directorate of Civil Engineering School of Computing, Science and Engineering carry out compliance checks to ensure that a manufacturer’s design calculations and product testing processes meet with acceptable codes.

Life Cycle of a Racking System

Of course, SEMA Design Codes are only the start of your racking journey and safe storage follows a cyclical approach; safe manufacture offering full traceability of product, safe design, safe installation and a rigorous, structured approach to rack maintenance through inspection and repair. Our member groups comprise Full Manufacturing Members, SEMA Distributor Companies, SEMA Approved Installation Companies, SEMA Approved Rack Inspectors and SEIRS registered and trained installers. All classes of membership are required to use SEIRS qualified labour for installation.

SEMA has led on best safety practice and many of its outputs are adopted nationally, across Europe and the world over. The work of our Technical Committee is well renowned, providing definitive technical guidance, Codes of Practice and other publications.

Find Out More

If you would like to find out more SEMA stages two external thought leadership events aimed at end users and other industry professionals to help them stay abreast of legislation.

  • SEMA’s technical seminars cover a raft of technical content relevant to all those working in the safe manufacture, design, supply and installation of storage systems. Speakers are chosen for their significant depth of knowledge, skill and include members of SEMA’s Technical Committee.
  • SEMA’s Safety Conference is aimed at end-users and covers current legislation, SEMA’s technical outputs and case studies on how other organisations have successfully majored on safe practice in storage.

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