Warehouses and loading bays are dangerous places. Inside there are fork lift truck and pallet trucks that need to be kept as separate as possible from workers, visitors and other ‘pedestrians’. They are also capable of doing significant damage to walls, doorways, racking, stock and equipment. Outside, if possible, it’s worse with anything up to 40 tonne HGVs coming and going and manoeuvring into tight spaces alongside other HGVs and lift trucks.
It would be safest to keep people and vehicles well apart but that’s just not practical. It’s akin to saying “if we reduce the speed limit on roads to zero there would be no traffic accidents!” The best we can hope for is a well managed risk with practical precautions. Berry Systems’ stock in trade is identifying the specifics of those risks and designing safety systems to manage it.
Over the last 40 years the company has become expert in the design, manufacture and installation of safety barriers, wheel guides, pedestrian handrails, height restrictors, column protectors and much more. This expertise is increasingly called on by many of the top names in British retailing such as Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Asda, Co-op, Premier Foods, Royal Mail, Ikea and many others. Many have also installed Berry’s products in their car parks as well.
One of their earlier, major installations was at the Sainsbury’s Regional Distribution Centre at Hams Hall in Birmingham. This featured the first use of Berry’s Spring Steel Buffa Plus anywhere in the country. One of the biggest challenges in the design of barriers is that the forks of a forklift truck are specifically designed to go under things in order to pick them up. This simple issue defeats most conventional safety barriers. Engineers at Berry Systems quickly solved this problem by using two barriers, mounting one over the other on a single set of spring steel supports. The lower barrier is reversed so that the two overlap, creating an impenetrable bastion from ground level to 600 mm high.
The combined system provides superb protection regardless of whether the point of impact is the body of a vehicle or the extended forks of a forklift. Bright yellow plastic end caps protect against sharp edges and draw attention to where the barriers end. Well over 1km of barriers were installed at Hams Hall and subsequently more were installed at their centres at Rye Park, Waltham Abbey, Haydock and their state of the art RDC at Swan Valley in Northampton.
The brief at Swan Valley was to install safety barriers to protect personnel, external cladding, plant, internal structures including columns, pedestrian walkways and warehouse equipment. This time the total installation involved nearly 2 kilometres of safety barriers, most of it mounted on either Berry’s unique spring steel buffers or on their Flexi-Posts. Both systems allow the barrier to absorb impacts and so reduce damage to the vehicle and the barrier. This also drastically reduces the forces on the anchor points and so avoids expensive repairs to the concrete.
As well as the barriers, Berry also installed nearly 300 bollards and 300 wheel guides. These, together with the 9 height restrictors were supplied in Sainsbury’s orange to enhance the corporate style throughout the facility. One of the most vital parts of the installation was the 49 column protection units. These units have been designed by Berry to protect structural columns from impacts from warehouse vehicles or HGVs.
Keeping vehicles away from pedestrians is one tactic but it’s just as important to consider things the other way round i.e. keeping pedestrians away from vehicles.
At the Co-op’s Composite Distribution Centre at Birtley, Co Durham, Berry designed and installed nearly 300 metres of heavy duty handrailing and balustrading incorporating three custom designed swinging interior gateways to ensure that, as far as possible, pedestrians are restricted to areas free of warehouse traffic. The total installation was over 3 km and the balustrading, rack end protectors, fork lift wheel guides, bollards and height restrictors were all painted in eye-catching yellow for added visibility and consistent awareness.
Tescos are also very familiar with Berry Systems’ products but they recently came up with a problem, not in their distribution centres but at some of their latest stores.
A number of new Tesco Extra stores are being built in town centres as local authorities look to arrest the shift to out of town retail sites that are having a harmful impact on the prosperity of the traditional high street. By bringing the large retailers back to the town centres they are hoping to rejuvenate whole areas by bring additional footfall to the small independent retailers in the towns. But there is rarely the space to provide all the on-site parking needed to support a busy hypermarket, Tescos are solving this problem by building their stores on ‘stilts’ with the ground level or undercroft being used for parking with Travelators providing access to the shopping floors above.
This results in a large number of structural steel I-Beam columns throughout the car park and cars and columns in close proximity will inevitably come into unwanted contact.
The large numbers of columns involved makes the installation of normal Berry Column Buffas more time consuming and disruptive than Tesco would have liked as each needs to be concreted in to absorb the impact forces of a vehicle collision. However, I-Beams are inherently much tougher than many other forms of column construction so Berry Systems developed an I-Beam Protector that mounts directly to the column and requires no foundations or footings. While not protecting the column from all impact forces, the steel mountings will absorb most of the impact damage and all the cosmetic damage.
Available in full circle or semi-circular options, I-Beam Protectors can also guard any service pipes or ducting running down the beam provided sizes and locations are advised in advance so that the fittings can be customised to accommodate this requirement.
IKEA are another company that came to Berry Systems specifically with a car park problem and this resulted in the first UK installation of the Berry Brisafe Wire Rope Safety barrier at their Belfast store. The system is slim, stylish, innovative and very, very effective. Unlike traditional barriers Berry Brisafe has a zero footprint in the parking bay creating much more space and a light and airy environment.
The system consists of three lengths of wire rope anchored under tension to the structural columns, not the floor. These ropes are then fitted with in-fill panels which can be colour co-ordinated to almost any specification and also create an integrated anti-climb feature. Tests at MIRA proved that the system meets the requirements of BS 6399 and recent Institute of Civil Engineers and Institution of Structural Engineers recommendations relevant to perimeter barriers for vehicle and pedestrian protection.
When a vehicle hits a Brisafe barrier, the three wires flex and absorb the impact forces, minimising damage to the vehicle and at the same time reducing the likelihood of injury to the occupants. Following an impact, the damaged mesh in-fill panel can be swiftly removed and easily replaced. The wire rope elements are fully re-usable and can be re-tensioned if necessary.
On the top (3rd) floor of the IKEA car park, many of the structural columns finished at deck level and so Berry installed 48 of their Flexi-Bollards. These bear none of the tension in the system, being used merely to provide intermediate, vertical support for the wires. However, they are safety bollards in their own right and have been designed and tested to absorb direct impacts when necessary.
A total of 824 metres of Brisafe was installed around the perimeter of the car park and also on either side of the ramps. In addition, 231 metres of traditional barrier rail was installed mounted on Flexi-Posts, the little brother of the Flexi-Bollards. These were fitted in front of steel cladding where an anti-climb barrier was not needed and space for the Brisafe system to flex under impact was restricted.
Flexi-Posts and Barrier Rail configurations were also favoured by Premier Foods when they were refurbishing a number of their production carousels and service yards as they will ultimately withstand a greater impact force. Asda on the other hand opted for a range of different barrier specifications to cover a range of eventualities and local variations. These have been installed in new and refurbished ASDA stores and car parks where vehicle safety barriers are required. Provision has been made for the protection of electricity sub-stations, air conditioning units and similar valuable plant as well as barriers for service yards to withstand an impact from a 40 tonnes HGV at 5mph. Spring Steel Buffa Plus units to provide protection from the forks of fork lift trucks have been included as have column protection units for both internal and external columns.
As can be seen from these examples, Berry Systems can provide a wide range of barriers for a vast range of different requirements. Because their portfolio includes many car park applications as well, they are able to cross fertilize ideas and expertise from both sectors to design systems that withstand impacts from anything from a pallet truck or small car to a 40 tonne HGV. Not only that, but these systems have all been independently tested so that their performance can be relied upon under the most rigorous conditions. Because ultimately, that’s what it’s all about. Making a dangerous environment safer for all concerned.