Warehouse Tips

How to Stop Swaying Shelves in Your Warehouse or Inventory Space

female-forklift-driver-looking-at-the-falling-boxes-in-a-warehouse-swaying-shelves-concept

You’ve just placed a heavy box at chest height on a large steel shelf in your inventory space when you notice a sway. That enormous metal shelf has just wobbled in response to the addition of your cargo, and when one shelf wiggles, the whole stack wobbles. These swaying shelves are not a feature of your warehouse or inventory workspace, they’re a maintenance order and a safety hazard waiting to happen.

Fortunately, keeping your shelves safe and secure is easy, once you realize the problem. Let’s dive into why giant, sturdy warehouse stacks can start to sway and how to stop those swaying shelves before someone gets hurt.

Why Metal Shelves Develop a Wobble

Metal shelves are put together using large metal bolts. The bolts twist tightly together with the help of washers, nuts, and powerful torque. Chances are that these shelves were put together inside the warehouse space, as few doors could admit them, which means they were likely tightened by hand – or with a handheld power tool – rather than being machine tightened and locked in the factory.

Over time, hand-tightened bolts come loose. This is especially true if the shelves are resisting constant push and torque from the loading and unloading of heavy boxes. Your inventory team will typically use the shelves for support in order to reduce the risk of human injury. Over time, all this pushing and impulse force on the shelves can shake your nuts and bolts loose – and you start to see the sway.

The Risk of Swaying Shelves

You probably don’t need us to tell you how dangerous a wobbling shelf can be in a warehouse setting. You need those shelves to be rock-steady precisely because your team relies on their stability to avoid injury. Propping and pushing, pulling and carefully shifting weight to retrieve boxes, and maneuvering around the shelves with lifts all require a stable shelf structure.

If the shelf wobbles during cargo loading and unloading, your team could find themselves dealing with uneven or unexpected weight and could easily take injury. If the stacks sway with any impact, the risk of dropping higher boxes (where the sway is greatest) increases with every wobble.

How to Secure Warehouse Shelves that Start to Sway

Supplies: 

  • Socket Wrench
  • Combination Wrench
  • Loctite

The good news is that anyone in your team with a pair of wrenches and strong hands can get started on securing your shelves. All you need are a few hours of meticulous work and a little Loctite.

The way to stop your swaying shelves lies in the source: loose bolts. This means the answer is to find every bolt in every wobbling shelf and give it that extra half-twist back to 100% locked-in. You will need a team member – or a summoned maintenance technician – to carefully explore every shelf to find the loose bolts and secure them with a pair of wrenches, ideally a socket wrench and a combination wrench or your best power tool equivalents.

1. For each bolt, drip a little Loctite into the joint between the nut and bolt. For best results, remove the nut, apply Loctite to the threads, and then fully secure the nut to the bolt. Only do this where it is safe to unfasten one bolt at a time.

2. Then use your two wrenches to secure the bolt and tighten the nut until it is impossible to secure further – or you see the nut/washer start to dent the shelf bar.

3. Do this for every bolt in each wobbling shelf and then give the shelf a good smack. You should now have that rock-steadiness you need in for safe warehouse shelving.

Safety is paramount in any warehouse or inventory space. Here at e-Holster, we are passionate about efficient operations and warehouse team safety. You’ll find everything you need for efficient barcode scanner holsters and handheld computer holsters to ensure your equipment is as safe as your newly tightened shelving.