Understanding The Differences Between Racking And Shelving

Most companies that have warehouses or goods-in elements of their business know that orderliness is something that can be enormously advantageous to this most vital part of the business. To this end, many company owners and commercial managers opt to have professionally designed storage solutions installed in their stock holding areas as this can help to ensure their operations remain organised and productive.

When it comes to choosing a suitable storage solution, most buyers have two choices: they can opt for racking or shelving. Whilst some people believe there to be little difference between racking and shelving, the truth is, the two options differ in a number of significant ways.

The Differences Between Racking And Shelving
The Differences Between Racking And Shelving

Understanding these differences will help a company to make the right decision about their storage solution investment and make their workplace more efficient as a result. Without this understanding, businesses that require comprehensive storage solutions may hamper their ambitions to improve stock transiting operations and slow down progress for employees. So, instead of helping to improve overall productivity and better meet the needs of their customers, companies that opt for unsuitable storage solutions may in fact find themselves struggling to access and store inventory and other materials.

Below is a brief guide to understanding the differences between shelving and racking:


Racking is designed and built to provide designated operatives with access to stored materials – such as large boxes or entire pallets of goods – with cherry pickers, forklifts or mechanised systems which convey materials down to ground level. Because of this, racking takes advantage of the vertical height element to increase cubed density. In essence, this means that it generally spans a wider space, is deeper and is stacked higher than shelving. Some kinds of racking systems – such as those used in large DIY/home improvement retail outlets – are slightly different as they are designed to be accessed by hand; however, these variants are often cantilevered so that long, unobstructed racks can be used to store items like timber.

Fit for Purpose

There are of course racking solutions available to suit all kinds of stock transiting needs. For instance, there are tall tiers of deep racks available which are strong enough to support a multitude of heavy pallets and can only be accessed by machines, and there are tall racks combined with a steel mesh, industrial mezzanine which enable employees to gain access to higher storage areas. Despite the many and varied racking options available however, there are times when towering rows of racks may not be an appropriate choice.

In these instances, shelving is more often than not the best choice:


Shelving systems are typically designed and built to store materials which will be accessed by hand, such as files, tools, consumer electronics and automotive accessories. Shelving is characterised by the solid, counter-like surfaces which are used to support items of stock and therefore it does not have the mesh platforms, openness or scaffold-like appearance of racking. In addition, shelving can be mechanised so that shelves can be easily moved together or positioned farther apart (these are typically used for archiving purposes).

Without doubt, any company that is looking to invest in a storage solution for their stock holding areas would do well to learn more about the differences between racking and shelving.

Author Bio

Mary Yohanan is working for a company that helps people make the maximum use of their storage space with cost saving racking and shelving solutions. Mary has written many articles and blogs on Action Storage and the latest storage options. In this article she is providing us with some valuable information on the differences between Racking and Shelving.

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