Pallet Rack Collapse

A massive pallet racking system used by R. R. Donnelly Corporation to store printed catalog matter suddenly collapsed resulting in the complete destruction of the pallet racking system and loss of the stock. The facility consisted of 12 racks, each 66 feet high (10 bays) and 228 feet long. Although the property loss was substantial, amazingly, no one was injured. Some failed welds were observed in the wreckage and there was a question whether weld failure precipitated the collapse or whether the welds failed as a result of the severe structural deformation associated with the collapse.

Rapperport Associates was retained to determine the cause of the failure. A buckling analysis indicated that the structure was overly flexible structure due to inadequate cross bracing and failure was caused by global buckling. A stress analysis of failed welds confirmed that weld failure resulted from the high loads of the collapsing structure and were not the initiating events.

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