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Considering the Quality of Steel in Pallet Racking

Updated: Nov 15, 2023

We are frequently asked to comment on the use of pre-owned racking and shelving systems for use in a warehouse installation. Our response is very much qualified by the end-use application and the rack materials under consideration. It is worth reviewing a few considerations:

Can pallet rack manufacturers make use of recycled steel?

Yes, it is possible to use recycled steel in place of new steel in structural applications, and in fact, it is becoming increasingly common in the construction industry.

Recycling steel helps to conserve natural resources, reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, and lower the overall carbon footprint of construction projects. The use of recycled steel in structural applications can also be cost-effective, as recycled steel can often be obtained at a lower cost than new steel.

Recycled steel is processed in much the same way as new steel, but with less energy and resource inputs. Steel recycling involves melting down scrap steel, refining it, and then using it to make new products, including structural steel beams, plates, and other building components.

It's important to note, however, that using recycled steel in structural applications requires careful consideration and planning. Recycled steel may have different material properties and characteristics than new steel, and it's important to ensure that the recycled steel meets the necessary strength and performance requirements for the specific structural application.

To ensure the quality and safety of recycled steel in structural applications, many countries have established standards and certifications for recycled steel, such as the European standard EN 10025, which specifies requirements for the technical delivery conditions of structural steel products made from recycled steel. Additionally, third-party testing and certification can help ensure that the recycled steel meets the necessary performance and quality standards.

Is there a difference in steel or steel products purchased from outside North America, specifically Asian countries?

It is not accurate to say that steel sourced from Asian countries is of lower quality than North American steel as a general rule. There are high-quality and low-quality steel products produced in both regions, and the quality of the steel depends on many factors, including the specific manufacturer, production methods, and quality control measures.

China is a significant producer of steel and exports steel products to many countries, including North America. Chinese steel manufacturers have invested heavily in technology and equipment in recent years, and some have achieved world-class quality standards. In fact, many Chinese steel mills have received certifications from international organizations such as ISO 9001 and ISO 14001, which indicate that they meet international standards for quality management and environmental management.

However, it is also true that some Chinese steel products have been subject to quality concerns, particularly in cases where manufacturers have cut corners or violated safety and environmental regulations. It's important to note that similar concerns can arise with steel products produced in other regions as well, including North America.

Ultimately, the quality of the steel depends on the specific product and the measures taken by the manufacturer to ensure quality and safety. It's important to carefully evaluate the reputation and quality control measures of any steel manufacturer, regardless of their location, when selecting a supplier for structural applications.

What are the technical measurements related to steel quality?

There are several technical measurements related to steel quality, some of which include:

  1. Tensile strength: This measures the maximum amount of stress a steel material can withstand before breaking or deforming. Tensile strength is typically measured in pounds per square inch (PSI) or megapascals (MPa).

  2. Yield strength: This measures the stress at which a steel material will start to deform or change shape, but not break. Yield strength is typically measured in PSI or MPa.

  3. Elongation: This measures the amount of deformation a steel material can undergo before breaking. Elongation is typically measured as a percentage of the original length of the material.

  4. Hardness: This measures the resistance of a steel material to indentation or deformation. Hardness is typically measured on a scale, such as the Rockwell or Brinell hardness scale.

  5. Ductility: This measures the ability of a steel material to deform or change shape without breaking. Ductility is typically measured as a percentage of the original dimensions of the material.

  6. Toughness: This measures the ability of a steel material to resist fracture or failure under impact or sudden shock. Toughness is typically measured using a Charpy or Izod impact test.

  7. Chemical composition: This refers to the elements present in a steel material, such as carbon, iron, and other trace elements. The chemical composition of steel can affect its strength, ductility, and other properties.

It's important to note that these measurements are interrelated and can affect the overall quality and performance of a steel material in structural applications. The specific requirements for steel quality will depend on the application and the specific industry standards or regulations that apply.

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