Industrial Shelving vs. Industrial Racking – Which One Do I Need?

September 15, 2020

What should you consider before choosing industrial shelving vs. industrial racking for your facility? First, learning the difference between the two systems enables you to make an informed decision. Let’s take a look at various racking and shelving systems and explore the reasons behind using each one.

Racking vs. Shelving: How to Tell the Difference

Racking typically has a longer space and is stacked higher than shelving in warehouses and facilities. Racking systems accommodate forklifts and other mechanized equipment. Due to their higher vertical dimensions, racking systems allow managers to increase the storage capacity in warehouses and industrial environments.

Shelving systems store items accessed manually, without automated equipment. (Think of the local grocery store.) These units usually have solid layers that resemble countertops. Shelving is more solid than racking systems, which can have mesh or wireframing to support pallets. However, some shelving systems are partially mechanized such as those in library archives or evidence lockers of law enforcement agencies.

Industrial racking systems require strong, durable materials to withstand heavy pallets. The tall vertical structures also must support the operation of forklifts and other equipment, including the occasional run-in caused by inexperienced operators. In comparison, shelving is less durable and opens only on one side. Shelves may have a more finished look.

Types of Industrial Racking

There are many varieties of pallet racks. The most popular has teardrop-shaped perforations that prevent the lateral bars from slipping out. Double slotted pallet racks are made of molten steel and are the second most popular type of industrial shelving. Pallet racks use a beam-to-upright connection, whereas double-slotted pallets have rectangular openings that hold the flanges and fastening pins.

Cantilever racks provide a great solution for storing long items, including plastic pipes. Long, adjustable arms extend from a metal framework with few horizontal breaks. Cantilever shelves don’t have a front column. So, workers and customers can access long items easily.

Types of Industrial Shelving

Bulk racks support hand loaded items. They consist of steel shelves that hold a much higher weight load than normal shelving. You can access these shells from both sides and store bulky items on them.

Boltless shelving, or rivet shelving, assembles easily with no bolts or hardware needed. These durable units deliver versatility if you need a no-hassle solution for storage shelves.

Which storage system would work for you?

Should you choose industrial shelving or racking systems? It depends on how you plan to put them to use. For pharmaceuticals, shelving makes sense because pharmacists need to access medications by hand to fill orders. For bulk storage of toys, sporting goods, and other items, a pallet rack system lets you stack products on pallets for more efficient storage and automation.

Some warehouses use both systems to accommodate different merchandise. If you use forklifts, a tough, longlasting racking system can provide a safe way to organize your facility. If you don’t use automated equipment, shelves might work efficiently in your environment.

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