Skip to main content

made in england flag
Midland Steel Equipment Ltd
Midland Steel Equipment Ltd
New Brochure Available

The Difference between Steel Racking and Steel Shelving

Unless you work for a warehouse business, you probably aren’t aware of the differences between pallet racking and industrial shelving. Generally, the two are understood under the term ‘warehouse shelving’, however, there are some key differences. It is important to know these differences before investing in one or the other for your business, so that you are managing your storage in the best way possible. This article will help you determine whether you need racking or shelving for your storage needs, as both are used for different purposes. Once you understand the difference between racking and shelving you can invest and start to run your business more efficiently.

steel shelvingRacking

Generally speaking, racking is the wider, deeper and taller of the two. Racking is usually used for large or heavy storage items, containers and boxes. As it tends to be used for large boxes or quantities of stock, machinery must be operated to access your storage. This is why racking systems tend to be taller and wider than shelving, to allow room for machinery to operate. The machinery, such as forklifts, cherry-pickers or other mechanised systems take the weight of your heavy goods and bring them down to ground level. Therefore, racking materials also tend to be more durable than shelving as it has to allow access for this assisted machinery as well as bare the weight of heavy items. Racks are also almost always attached to the floor or wall to reinforce their strength and thus their safety. The structure itself usually consists of bars, wires and mesh shelving rather than a solid shelf.

Industrial Shelving

In contrast, industrial shelving systems tend to be used for storage that is easily accessible by hand. This may include books, small boxes and other more lightweight items. Shelving tends to be made from a solid material rather than mesh, bars or wires. This shelving is only meant for small items and does not have the same durability as racking. Having said this, shelving can be mechanised. This would allow shelving to move apart or together easily which may be necessary for university archives or in libraries for example. This is also helpful for when a building is limited in space, as the middle section can be kept hidden until required, when the shelving can be moved apart to enable access to it. As well as this, it is becoming more common for warehouse businesses to use automated drone systems to access and pick up small items placed on shelves.

Which is right for you?

As we have outlined, there are some key differences between racking and industrial shelving. Which style you should opt for depends on your businesses’ needs. If you have heavy containers or large boxes, it may be more appropriate to use racking, which will allow you easy access to your storage items through the use of assisted machinery. However, if you are simply looking to store some lightweight items, shelving may be preferable as you can access these items by hand.

If you are still unsure whether racking or shelving is more appropriate for your needs or would like some further advice, please contact us.

Return to index