Racking as a machine
Racking needs to be maintained like anything else.
Racking has historically been treated as a one time capital purchase that doesn't need any sort of maintenance contract. Monies were perhaps set aside each year to conduct some fixes or repairs but those budgets quite often were used up to rearrange or buy some more. The truth is, racking is much more of a machine than people realized. Racking systems quite often outlive several different management regimes and sometimes more than one owner as well. Over time, the state of repair degrades and becomes accepted by those presently in charge. It is inevitable that money will need to be spent maintaining racking, it's just a question of how much and when. In general terms maintenance costs will run between 0.5% and 5% of the OCC (original capital cost) of the system. Where you are in that range depends one several things:
System design (aisle sizes, beam lengths, lift off, etc.)
Racking style (roll form or structural)
Frame design (bolted lattices, set back design, independent protection).
Type of operation (grocery, pharma, electonics, etc.)
That isn't the complete list but those are the major ones. So for example, if your system had an OCC of $1,000,000 then you could spend as little as $5,000 and as much as $50,000 to keep it in good condition on an annual basis.
If racking is viewed as a machine from a maintenance perspective then different strategies can be considered to lower annual costs. When typical machines become costly we look for ways to eliminate or reduce those costs; by buying a new one, refurbishing, modernizing, etc. Racking is no different. Perhaps the original system design doesn't really match the business anymore. Maybe it makes more sense to replace sections of older racking with new racking of a better design. Understanding your current costs and where the money actually went will help you strategize to reduce them.
There is no reason that all operations can't have annual maintenance costs at 0.5% or less. Just know that any racking system has a maintenance cost and its best to view it that way from day one.