What’s The Difference Between Racking and Shelving?

A common question for those new to the industrial storage world is the difference between racking and shelving. At a glance, both are shelves supported by upright frames and beams, or posts and shelves. Learning about the differences between the two and having a clear understanding of how both options function will give consumers and businesses a much clearer picture of what works best for their products that need to be stored.

What’s the Main Difference between Racking and Shelving?

Simply put, the main difference between racking and shelving is the size and type of products that both can accommodate.

Typically, shelving holds smaller items that are easier to retrieve and carry by hand. Products are often stored individually (instead of pallets) to group similar goods together. Shelving units are typically made out of metal and sit on the ground. However, some warehouse spaces contain mechanized shelving systems or ones that are on wheels.

On the contrary, racking is a pivotal piece of equipment in the warehouse that stores heavy loads. Loading and unloading require a forklift or other equipment, as more often than not, pallets are involved. While shelving is laid out in single sections, racking systems are constructed in several bays to support heavier loads. Due to the increased need for stability, most racking systems anchor to the ground. Pallet racking shelves tend to utilize wire mesh decking for the shelves. It is also common practice to leave out shelves altogether based on what is stored.

Blue Industrial Shelving

Is Racking or Shelving Right for Me?

Do you have a business that requires industrial storage systems? As we have outlined, the answer depends on your types of products, number of SKUs, and more. The most crucial characteristic that will determine the kind of storage system you need is weight. If you sell lightweight products that can be maneuvered by hand, then a shelving system can work nicely within your warehouse space. Alternatively, any heavy equipment or products will necessitate racking systems to ensure optimal protection and warehouse safety.

Even with these clear distinctions, it is not unusual for shelving and racking usage in the same warehouse space. A combination of pallet racking and shelving integrated within different warehouse areas will enable you to optimize the space and improve work efficiency when storing and moving products.

For more pallet racking and shelving information, or help buying the right clips for your storage system, check out our shelf clip buyer’s guide or call our friendly team today. We are more than happy to assist with your warehouse storage needs.

pallet racking above door layout
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