Flexural Capacity of Steel Rack Connections Via The Component Method

Federico Gusella1, *, Maurizio Orlando1, Andrea Vignoli1, Klaus Thiele2
1 Department of Civil Engineering, University of Florence, viaDia Santa Marta 3, Florence, Italy
2 Department of Civil Engineering, University of Braunschweig, Braunschweig, Germany

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© 2018 Gusella et al.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Department of Civil Engineering, University of Florence, Federico Gusella, viaDia Santa Marta 3, Florence, Italy; Tel: +393401240452; E-mail:



In pallet rack structures, cold-formed steel (CFS) beams and columns are connected through dry joints, so beams can be easily disconnected according to changes of the rack geometric layout. Due to the great variety of connector types and member geometries, recent design codes recommend experimental tests on rack connections to assess their mechanical features. Nevertheless, tests only allow for the overall response of a joint to be evaluated, without providing information about the contribution of each component of the joint to its stiffness and strength.


In this paper, a mechanical model is developed in order to provide useful information about the structural behaviour of rack beam-column connections.


The proposed mechanical model is based on the application of the Component Method (CM) and it allows for the flexural resistance of steel rack connections to be analytically assessed. Analytical results are compared with experimental data from tests performed at the Structures and Materials Testing Laboratory of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering of Florence.


Results show a good agreement with experimental data, highlighting the accuracy of the proposed approach. The mechanical model allows for the weakest component of the joint and its failure mode to be evaluated, and it highlights the importance of an adequate welding between the beam-end section and the connector.


The mechanical model provides fundamental information about the influence of structural details on the overall behavior of rack joints, it appears as a complementary method to expensive experimental tests and it can be used to improve the design of rack connections with the goal to increase their structural response.

Keywords: Component Method, Steel Racks, Connections, Beam-Column Joint, Experimental Tests, Cold formed steel.