SHELVING VS RACKING: WHAT THEY ARE AND HOW IT MATTERS TO YOU.
Almost any business you can think of needs storage solutions of some kind. Whether those needs are quite small, like for a cleaning closet or stationery cupboard, or on a massive scale like sprawling warehouses filled with inventory, you’ll often hear two types of storage used interchangeably: shelving and racking.Almost any business you can think of needs storage solutions of some kind. Whether those needs are quite small, like for a cleaning closet or stationery cupboard, or on a massive scale like sprawling warehouses filled with inventory, you’ll often hear two types of storage used interchangeably: shelving and racking.
However, although they do share some similarities, they are different. It’s certainly understandable to be confused by the two, but knowing how and why they are different is key to selecting the right shelving or racking for your business.
So, what’s the difference between shelving and pallet racking?
Perhaps the easiest way to think of shelving vs racking is to consider shelves as the generalists and racks as the specialists. We’ll get into that in more detail, but another major difference that can help you tell the two apart is this: storage shelving usually holds lighter-duty products that are designed to be stocked and retrieved by hand, whereas rack shelving is commonly designed for heavy-duty products and specialized applications that are retrieved either by forklifts or by hand (often a team lift). What’s more, warehouse racking often provides additional inventory management & control functionality, beyond simply storage, to aid in warehouse organization and operational efficiency.
STORAGE SHELVING: The ULTIMATE GENERALIST
Now giving shelving that title is not to say it’s a jack of all trades and master of none. Some shelving is specifically designed for certain industries and applications, from heavy duty shelving for construction to specially coated wire shelving for the medical and food industries. But overall, shelving is much more adaptable to a wide variety of different uses and locations, with many being just as useful in a corporate mailroom as they are in a garage or kitchen.
Global Industrial offers a wide range of storage shelf solutions fit for a variety of needs, covering everything from consumer-facing storage to shelving designed for schools and colleges. Let’s take a quick look at some of the options you have available to you through questions we’re commonly asked:
What material should the shelving be made from?
That answer depends on several factors, and selecting the best shelving material will depend on what industry you’re in, what’s being stored, the location of the shelving, who will be using the shelves (a storeroom vs a retail space for example), and even the budget you’re working with.
Common materials you must choose from include:
Aluminium shelving handles varying temperatures with ease, making it a superb choice for cold rooms (server storage), food prep and storage, and sterile storage. It’s also flexible, lightweight, robust, and durable.
Steel shelving is an adaptable, durable, and sturdy industrial storage solution that’s built for function over style. It’s best used in closets, garages, storage rooms, and other non-public-facing areas.
Plastic shelving is not lightweight when it comes to what it can actually hold, with some units able to handle up to 5,250lbs of weight. These units are easy to clean and affordable, making them great all-rounders for almost any situation.
What kind of shelving should I choose?
As we stated earlier, being a generalist doesn’t mean being so generic. While many shelving units are interchangeable in a host of situations, some have specific uses. For example:
Gondola shelving is specifically designed, and most suited to, retail environments like grocery, convenience, electronics, and liquor stores. They are space-saving, flexible, easy to reconfigure, and can be used with a wide variety of accessories.
As the name implies, mobile shelving is for situations that require your storage to be able to move from room to room, or even floor to floor, quickly and easily. Known as “trucks” they come in many different materials including plastic, steel, and wire, and can even fold away when not in use.
When you need something quick and easy to assemble, ideally by people who aren’t experienced with shelf construction, boltless shelving provides that simplicity and versatility. The durable metal construction ensures stability and strength, allowing you to store heavy items with confidence.
OTHER OPTIONS INCLUDE:
How do you determine shelf size?
Grab a tape measure and take two key measurements: the size of the area the shelving will be located, and what exactly is going to be stored on those shelves. Remember, you need to take storage weight into account, so if you’re opting for a shelf with a smaller profile it may need to have a higher weight limit to compensate.
Other factors include the material you’re opting for, and where the shelves will be located. Fortunately, Global Industrial provides many options for you, with wire shelving coming in a variety of widths (24-42”), depths (12-24”), and heights (21-54”), making them customizable for almost any space.
RACK SHELVING: THE SPECIALIST SOLUTION
Racks are specialists.
They come in a wide range of designs suited for a specific storage task, you get the racking you need for a specific task. They are usually located in warehouses, shop floors, and large industrial settings, and are often (but not always) accessed by forklifts and other equipment. They come in several materials, including wire racks and metal racks.
If you’re wondering “how do you determine rack size?” well that too depends on the specific need and use of the rack you’re buying. For example, tire racks are going to come in sizes based on the tires they’re built to hold, and therefore you’ll choose those dimensions based on the tires you stock.
Global Industrial has a massive variety of rack shelving options for you, including:
Bar & Sheet Racks come in vertical, horizontal, and even a-frame configurations. They can also be adjustable and wall-mounted, and can hold weights from 3,000lbs up to 7,500lbs. Efficient, hard-wearing and versatile, they are perfect for bar and sheet storage.
Bin Racks & Shelving are ideal for storing those small-medium sized items including hardware, car parts, lab tools, and so much more. With hundreds of options to choose from, in a variety of colors and materials, you’ll find the perfect fit for your storage solution.
Bulk Storage Racks come in a wide variety of materials (from wood to metal and wire) and sizes and are often used for “extra heavy duty” storage solutions.
Can Storage Racks are made specifically for can storage, coming in widths from 24” up to 36”. They can be used for both storage and dispensing, and mobile options are available.
Cantilever Racks have varying weight capacities per arm and are designed to hold anything from medium to heavy duty items. Some are available in single-sided or double-sided configurations and come in a wide variety of widths.
Carton Flow Racks are employed in situations that require easy and streamlined access to picking and sorting inventory. Some offer rollers and span tracks, while other options include wheel beds and feeder racks.
Cylinder racks are built specifically for cylinder storage and range from holding just one cylinder in place to 21 cylinders. They can be free standing, wall mounted, or mobile carts, and caddies are forklift compatible.
Drum & Barrel racks are perfect for storing 5-gallon water bottles, kegs, spill containment barrels, 55-gallon drums and so much more.
Dunnage Racks come in a variety of materials including plastic, aluminum, and wire, and can be used in industries ranging from food processing to the medical profession. They also come with mobile options for easier transportation.
Pallet Racks are most often pre-configured by height, width, depth, shelf capacity, beam height and type. With adjustable beams, bolted connections, and powder coating options, you’ll find the ideal pallet racking solution for your budget.
Pegboards are well-suited to environments that require quick and easy tool storage. They come with accessories that make them highly customizable, being able to be configured to accept almost any combination of tools and accessories.
Reel racks come in three main varieties - high capacity, mobile, and standard capacity - and are built to allow efficient access to your reels of wire, cable, steel chains, and more.
Slatwalls are similar to pegboards in use and configuration, but often provide a wider variety of storage solutions when coupled with the myriad available accessories. They are often used in merchandising displays.
Specialty Racks run the gamut. Whether you need storage for golf bags, baseball gear, tailpipes, snowshoes, or even folding chairs, this is where you’ll find your unicorn.
Stack Racks (aka portable or nesting racks) are a kind of portable racking system designed for warehouse use with limited space. They store items that won’t fit on a regular shelf and allow them to be managed with ease.
To sum up, if you’re in an industry that has very specific storage requirements, you’re going to be looking at rack storage. If your needs are broader, shelving is probably the better option. But as always if you need any help choosing the perfect storage solution, please don’t hesitate to ask our Global Industrial experts for advice.
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