Delivering a racking system for a shaky land

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Dexion shelving

Commmercial shelving, storage, and filing systems in New Zealand not only need to meet the usual product demands for their sector: they also need to cope with seismic events.

New Zealand discount supermarket chain PAK’nSAVE, which is owned by the county’s largest grocery distributor Foodstuffs, adheres to a plain warehouse format. For a flagship store in Blenheim in the South Island, PACK’nSAVE commissioned the storage system supplier Dexion.

According to Foodstuffs’ general manager Property and Retail Development, Roger Davidson, “Dexion has been a supplier for over 25 years, consistently delivering a high quality range of products. Dexion is armed with intellectual knowledge, built over many years of working with the PAK’nSAVE brand. In light of the recent earthquakes, Dexion also understands the importance of delivering solutions that can withstand seismic activity.”

“Given the recent earthquakes in Christchurch, Foodstuffs was understandably concerned about the risk to staff and customers from earthquake damage to the store, and how Dexion would be able to mitigate this risk with its pallet racking system. Safety issues were always paramount,” says Dexion’s National Supply Centre manager, Jeff Darby.

Five point connectivity

The solution offered by Dexion was Speedlock racking, a superior performing product during seismic events.

“Speedlock offers five-point connectivity. Five-point connectivity provides increased stiffness between the upright and the beam, which increases the beam’s load carrying capacity and greatly increases the lateral stability of the rack structure, hence better performance during seismic events,” explains Darby.

Dexion was required to produce 413 bays of racking, which comprised seven different types of racking: foodhall main racking, wine racking, foodhall perimeter and aisle racking, checkout shelving, bulk store racking, general chiller racking, and produce prep and chiller racking. All the racks were designed to suit the bulk storage of pallets that are commonly used in retail applications. The Speedlock system provides bulk storage capacity in the upper location of the rack and features retail picking locations within the lower part ofthe bay, up to a height of 1.8 metres.

According to Dexion’s Supply Centre Christchurch design engineer, George Simpkin, the project was unique, featuring a number of bespoke design elements.

“Not only did we design the racking using a new yellow and silver colour scheme to ensure visual consistency across the stores; specialised tooling was also used to create a bespoke reverse punched upright and retail beam that would offer 25-millimetre adjustment to all shelves (rather than the standard 50-millimetre) for added flexibility.

Dexion was involved in the design meetings from as early as the concept stage. The team worked together with our architects, fire engineers and structural engineer designers, providing expert advice and input in relation to fire safety and seismic issues.

Dexion continued to work closely with Foodstuffs throughout the entire project, from the manufacturing drawings, through to sign-off, and full manufacture and installation of the new product.

“Open and regular communication between all parties involved ensured the product was delivered and signed off on within a relatively short time-frame,” says Darby.

Standards requirements

Perhaps the greatest hurdle Dexion faced pertained to the newly implemented council requirements. Since the Christchurch earthquakes, building codes and design criteria significantly tightened. Consequently, Dexion needed to obtain council consent for the racking design, manufacture and install, which had to comply with the newly upgraded pallet racking standards including AS/NZS1170 Structural Design Actions, BRANZ Seismic Design of High Level Storage Systems with Public Access, NZS 3404:1997 Steel Structures Standard, AS/NZS 4600:2005 Cold Formed Steel Structures and AS4084:1993 Steel Storage Racking.

Despite all these challenges, Dexion was able to deliver a product that was safer due to the added seismic strength of the Speedlock racking. The new look racking also offered a brand facelift, freshening the look of the store.

In July 2013, Dexion’s racking installation was tested by the Seddon earthquake. The Blenheim PAK’nSAVE store was the only supermarket to open immediately following the earthquake, with minimal stock loss and no racking damage.

“We didn’t lose anything off the shelving and the Dexion racking performed admirably,” observes Roger Davidson. “All the testing and new council sign-off processes were put through a rigorous test and performed outstandingly.”

With another PAK’nSAVE due to open in Christchurch in 2015, Dexion is working again with Foodstuffs to implement its Speedlock racking system that will share the refreshed look and improved design of the Blenheim store.

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