How to calculate the loading capacity for modular structures

When designing a modular structure, it’s crucial to keep specific loading capacity guidelines in mind. As each structure is customized for a particular use, extra care needs to be taken to ensure that it will support its intended load.

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When designing a modular structure, it’s crucial to keep specific loading capacity guidelines in mind. As each structure is customized for a particular use, extra care needs to be taken to ensure that it will support its intended load.

Failure to do so may result in deflected pipes and casters which do not move correctly, thus reducing your structure’s efficiency. Calculating the capacity for pipes and casters is quite simple.

Read on to learn how to establish proper loading capacities for Flexpipe modular structures.

Determine the loading capacity of a structure using our CAPACITY CHARGE CALCULATOR.


the #1 rule: The longer the pipe, the less weight it can hold

Capacity: up to 2000 lb

How you design and assemble your Flexpipe structure will affect its loading capacity. As is the case for materials such as welded steel, aluminum profile or wood, Flexpipe kitting carts / boards / flow racks / etc. are made of structural components comparable to beams and columns.

That said, the longer your beams, the less weight they can hold.

Now given that we were a welding company in the past, we speak from experience when saying that if your structure is to support a load exceeding 2000 lb, it makes more sense to create a welded structure or else there will be too many pipes and joints.


The loading capacity chart

Below is a chart on how weight Flexpipe pipes can carry on a single point load.

Single point capacity chart

What is the loading capacity difference between pipe types?

If we assume that a regular 1 mm thick pipe represents 100%, the chart below is a proportional summary of the capacity chart above.


We put our pipes to the test; this is what the lab told us

A force was applied to the middle of a regular 1 mm coated pipe held by 2 HJ-1 joints with a pressure speed of ¼ in. / minute. The tests were performed at room temperature by Micom Laboratories in June 2017.

The following pictures show a permanent deflection on the pipes after the heaviest pressure was applied.


How to establish your structure’s loading capacity

Follow these three steps:

  1. Take the longest pipe span on your structure
  2. Refer to the chart above
  3. Multiply the weight capacity of each pipe by the number of pipes in the structure

Bear in mind that this simple loading capacity formula is intended solely to provide you with general guidelines. If you are unsure of your structure’s weight resistance, please contact your project manager for help. There is nothing like testing a structure and reinforcing it with braces if necessary.

Even though you adhere to the guidelines, the pipes may curve slightly if weight is put on them. Rest assured, this will not be permanent, and they will become straight again once the weight is removed. However, the deflection may cause production workers and management to raise concerns about the structure’s safety—even if the deflection does not pose any risks per se.

We all know that perception is critical, especially if you are beginning to use the product. So, to dispel any doubts, we suggest investing a few more dollars in purchasing additional pipes and cut them into shorter spans or adding braces to reinforce your structure, so there is no deflection.

Remember: your structure will only be as strong as its weakest point! That said, make sure to follow the loading capacity guidelines of the following elements:

  • Joint resistance: see chart
  • Caster capacity: see chart
  • Roller track capacity: see chart
  • Accessories: check their product information page in the Flexpipe store

It’s essential to consider ergonomics when designing the structure: you want to make sure that workers can quickly and safely push heavy-duty carts! If you are building a cart with a capacity of 2000 lb, think about the effort that would be required to start pushing the cart.


Tips to reinforce your structure

Here are different ways to reinforce your structure:

Reduce the pipe span by adding a column.


Add HJ-6 or HJ-17 angle braces.


Double stack your pipe using the HJ-13.


Use the thicker 2 mm wall pipe.


Add extra pipes using the HJ-7 joint.

For critical parts or heavier loads (exceeding 1000 lb), we suggest sending us your design via your project manager.

If the design of your structure requires formal approval regarding a specific loading capacity, we can coordinate this for you with an external engineering firm. Additional fees may apply.


Caster loading capacity

Casters come in different diameters, shapes, and fastening systems. The choice of casters is vital as you’ll want to pick those which will move your cart smoothly, no matter its size or load capacity. That said, the bigger the wheels, the more weight your cart will be able to hold.

There are two types of caster:

  • Stem casters: for carts carrying loads under 400 lb and which travel short distances
  • Plate-mount casters: for carts traveling distances between 30and 100 ft and for loads greater than 400 lb.

Below, you’ll find the specifications of each caster we carry along with its respective weight capacity.

Whether your objectives relate to streamlining processes or reducing wastes, the guidelines provided above will help you plan your structure, so it safely and efficiently carries its load. Here a descriptive video about all of our caster and all their features:

Having a structure working at its fullest potential will not only help you reach your continuous improvement targets, you’ll save money, too. Have a question regarding your structure’s load capacity? Please contact us, we’re happy to help.

Capacity charge calculator
Determine the loading capacity of a structure