Principal investigator: Robert Michael

University: Gannon University

Industry partner: Corry Rubber Corporation and GeorgeKo Industries, Inc.

Gannon University will partner with GeorgeKo Industries located in Erie, PA and Corry Rubber Corporation located in Corry, PA, to design, develop and market a next generation pallet rack column guard. The guard allows for the engagement and protection of a storage rack upright (column) from an impact force by an external object such as a forklift. The guard will protect the storage rack by absorbing and damping the resulting impact force. The column guard will be designed as a 100% injection molded thermoplastic urethane (TPU). No such guard exists on the market today. A TPU guard offers significant advantages over traditional plastic and metal guards including the ability to be colored in high-visibility safety yellow. TPU can be injection molded for low-cost, fast cycle times. The high-strength and elasticity properties of TPU make it the optimal material for energy absorption and dissipation. TPU can store and release more potential energy per unit mass (or volume) than steel and plastic guards. This translates to greater energy absorption which will help preserve the structural integrity of a rack upon impact thus protecting the general public in retail (big-box) stores and warehouses.