By Chris O’Connor, the new President of SEMA, the Storage Equipment Manufacturers’ Association

2017 marks the association’s 50th year of service. The underlying theme to our current agenda is that of “Safeguarding”. Our focus is on how we can specifically support our industry by continually improving standards of safe design, safe manufacture and safe installation together with safe maintenance procedures.

SEMA’s “To Do” list is already well defined and each of our member groups and companies must lead by example. We are encouraging rigour among manufacturers, distributors, approved installation companies, racking inspectors and installers. The outcome for end users is surety of compliance and Return on Investment.

SEMA member groups

Each Full SEMA manufacturer member already commits to meeting SEMA’s codes of practice. Their design processes must be assessed and approved by an independent body. Member companies provide highly qualified and skilled personnel to work on SEMA’s technical committee where we help define standards and best practice in the UK, influencing European developments in this field and, increasingly, globally.

The members of the SEMA Distributor Group, now consisting of 30 leading Distributor Companies, are due for their three yearly re-audit and the first of these commenced in November. To ensure continuous improvement takes place, the scope of the audit has been widened to embrace training, competency, process improvement and customer satisfaction. SEMA Approved Installation Companies (SAICs) are also moving to an independently audited QA process.

SEMA and its member companies are taking the lead, investing to raise standards and differentiating themselves in the eyes of their customers. SEMA wishes to encourage more like-minded companies who recognise the benefits of operating under the SEMA brand.

SEMA Racking Inspectors (SARIs) number over 100. SARIs need to offer that “fresh pair of eyes” on safety critical issues to the beleaguered warehouse manager who is perpetually focussed on daily challenges. Levels and types of inspection are now under evaluation to ensure consistent service nationwide which is supported by SEMA Technical Bulletin No.5 and an updated code of practice currently in development.

SARI courses are incredibly popular and we are witnessing unprecedented levels of demand including international delegates attending from the Far East including Singapore, Thailand and China to the UAE, together with many of our European neighbours.

Standards and publications

A key role of any trade body is the development of definitive publications and to our credit, there are circa 75 to date.

With commercial ROI in mind, our Code of Practice on Live Storage has needed updating as it supports that sector of the market (e.g. food and pharmaceutical) where you can’t afford for date-sensitive products to sit around in the warehouse. Work is active on this material.

Cantilever racking is used extensively in many manufacturing and retail applications for the storage of long products, typically metal and wood. There are several safety critical measures that users must take to keep Cantilever in safe working order. To help, SEMA has already updated and published its Code of Practice for the Design and Use of Cantilever Racking Systems. Concurrently, our recently launched Cantilever Awareness and Rack inspection courses have been finely tuned so that both SARIs and end users can derive the greatest benefit.

Additional rigour around Method Statements was required and an update is work in progress. The document will be published as a Code of Practice (which is more easily enforceable) and will offer superior guidance. The method statement part is guidance only as it is possible to have several safe ways of building the same structure and the SEMA method is acknowledged as not being the only one.

SEMA’s international reputation also means that it works extensively alongside European bodies, the European Racking Federation (ERF) and FEM to share its experience and influence in the development of European CEN standards.

Training

SEMA is recognised as a governing training body of the UK storage industry and in 2016, we earned the right to manage our own dedicated, registered training scheme which meets the standards imposed by the Construction Leadership Council. The Storage Equipment Installers’ Registration Scheme (SEIRS) was approved to operate as a Partner Card Scheme as it meets the requirements of the Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS). Benefits of an easily identifiable, accredited workforce to main contractors looking to comply with CDM regulations are measurable.

Implementing SEMA’s rationale really does mean that continual investment in safety does deliver on ROI. A well-designed racking system built to SEMA Codes of Practice offers longevity so you can access products at the right time, goods remain merchandisable and staff can work in a safe environment.

SEMA

Tel: 0121 6016359

www.sema.org.uk