How To Calculate Height-To-Width Ratio Of Pallet Racking & Cantilever Racking

Pallet and cantilever racking stability in industrial facilities like warehouses is absolutely crucial to ensure worker safety and enhance operational efficiency. Wobbly or unstable storage units can easily overturn at the slightest impact or contact from a piece of material handling equipment or minor seismic event. Increasing the vertical storage capacity of pallet racks and cantilever racking systems is a common technique in the logistics industry, but proper precautions and measurements must be taken first. 

To safely increase the vertical storage capacity of your unit and prevent it from overturning, measure the height-to-width ratio and guarantee that they complement each other perfectly. 

What Is Height-to-Width Ration in Pallet and Cantilever Racking Systems?

When it comes to industrial storage solutions, the height-to-width ratio (also known as the height-to-depth ratio) refers to the difference between the height and width of the unit itself. In order to prevent the entire pallet racking system from collapsing or falling over, the height-to-width ratio measurements need to be exact. 

Ideally, the height of the unit should be greater than the width of the base to establish a stable foundation and should not exceed a 6:1 ratio.

Why Are These Dimensions Important?

Total numerical accuracy is the name of the game when it comes to assembling and installing state-of-the-art storage units in your facility. As a warehouse, distribution center, or manufacturing facility manager, it’s up to you to guarantee safe working conditions for all of your employees. 

It’s important to understand and implement by-laws and building codes outlined by the Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCHOS) in your facility. Failure to do so can lead to a number of repercussions for your facility, including:

  • Worker injury or fatality (criminal offense in this case)
  • Non-compliance fines
  • Employees injured on the job due to negligence can file lawsuits against you
  • In some cases, imprisonment or jail time may be involved

All of these consequences result in serious financial losses and reputation degradation for your business. Responsible industrial facility management teams should do everything in their power to establish safe working environments and protocols that are in total compliance with CCHOS regulations and building codes. 

Calculating Height-to-Width Ratio of Pallet Racking Systems

Although the formula for calculating the height-to-width ratio for pallet racking systems is easy, it requires the utmost precise measurements. Even the slightest error or misreading can have detrimental consequences down the line. 

Use a measuring tape to measure the height of the unit from the floor to the highest beam. This will give you an exact height. Be sure to check your measurements a few times to make sure that they’re completely accurate. 

Next, you have to measure the width of the base. Measure from the exterior of the front column to the exterior of the back column and double check your measurements. After you’re finished measuring and have the values of the height and width, divide the value of the height by the value of the width. The resulting value should never exceed 6. Otherwise, it will result in a weak structural foundation and durable reinforcements such as anchors, large base plates, or cross aisle and overhead ties are required to stabilize the unit. 

For instance, let’s say a standard pallet rack has a height of about 240 inches and the width is about 40 inches. 240 divided by 40 equals exactly 6. This is an ideal height-to-width ratio for a standard industrial pallet racking system. 

Calculating Height-to-Width Ratio of Cantilever Racking Systems

Cantilever racking systems have a different configuration than standard pallet racks. Therefore, the formula to calculate the height-to-width ratio of a cantilever racking system is also different. 

Featuring outreaching horizontal beams, cantilever racks are designed to store large, bulky, and awkwardly shaped items. These include steel beams, lumber, pipes, doors, etc. 

Several steps are involved in calculating the exact height-to-width ratio of cantilever racking systems. Before you start, you need to determine whether you have a structural or roll-formed cantilever racking system. 

Structural cantilever racks feature structural steel I-beams that are attached to the steel columns in the center or back of the racking system. These are used to store medium to heavy loads. 

Roll-formed cantilever racks feature roll-formed steel beams that allow for easy inventory access. They include the following components for structural stability and easy use:

  • Bases
  • Braces
  • Arms
  • Columns
  • Stop pins

Cantilever racking systems are extremely versatile and can be adjusted to fit virtually any warehouse storage solution requirements. To calculate the height-to-width ratio of cantilever racking systems, start by measuring the length of the columns from the floor to the highest beam. Make sure all of the columns are the same height. 

Next, you have to measure the distance or height between each beam. Since the beam height can be adjusted for each load, it’s important to make sure they’re all even according to the type and weight of the load. Lastly, measure the length of each arm to ensure that they’re equal to the height between the beams. This will allow for more accurate and even weight distribution. 

Expertly Engineered Pallet and Cantilever Racking Systems from Canadian Rack Technologies Inc.

Canadian Rack Technologies Inc. provides high-quality state-of-the-art cantilever and pallet racks in Toronto. As a leading distributor of customizable storage solutions, we also provide in-depth pre-health and safety reviews of various types of facilities to maximize storage capacity and operational efficiency and safety standards. Contact us today to learn more. 


Kevin Ausman is the founder of Canadian Rack Technologies. He has over 30 years of experience in providing safe and efficient turn-key storage solutions and he specializes in pallet racking, pick systems, industrial shelving, mezzanines, cantilever racks, and more. Kevin is dedicated to providing great customer service, listening to client’s needs, and supplying the best products available.

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