Development of a Friction-Driven Finite Element Model to Simulate the Load Bridging Effect of Unit Loads Stored in Warehouse Racks
West, Robert L.
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Current pallet design methodology frequently underestimates the load capacity of the pallet by assuming the payload is uniformly distributed and flexible. By considering the effect of payload characteristics and their interactions during pallet design, the structure of the pallets can be optimized, and raw material consumption reduced. The objective of this study was to develop and validate a finite element model capable of simulating the bending of a generic pallet while supporting a payload made of corrugated boxes and stored on a warehouse load beam rack. The model was generalized in order to maximize its applicability in unit load design. Using a two-dimensional, nonlinear, implicit dynamic model, it allowed for the evaluation of the effect of different payload configurations on the pallet bending response. The model accurately predicted the deflection of the pallet segment and the movement of the packages for a unit load segment with three or four columns of boxes supported in a warehouse rack support. Further refinement of the model would be required to predict the behavior of unit loads carrying larger boxes. The model presented provides an efficient solution to the study of the affecting factors to ultimately optimize pallet design. Such a model has not been previously developed. The model successfully acts as a tool to study and predict the load bridging performance of unit loads requiring only widely available input data, therefore providing a general solution.