What’s the Difference Between Pallet Racking and Shelving?

Organisation is key to efficiency and productivity in a warehouse, and that’s exactly what the right storage solution can ensure. Two of the most popular storage alternatives are pallet racking and shelving.

However, while the terms are often used interchangeably, they’re most definitely not the same thing. Trust us: we build both!

Is it racking or shelving you need?

Understanding the difference between racking and shelving will allow you to figure out which storage solution matches your needs, but let’s start by identifying each one separately.

What is a racking system?

A racking system is a heavy-duty storage solution that’s usually designed in a way that makes it accessible with mechanised devices like forklifts or cherry pickers.

Strong and sturdy, it’s made of high strength steel in order to withstand the weight of bulky goods such as large boxes or even entire pallets (that’s why it’s also known as a pallet racking system). These tall and wide structures are usually attached to the floor and designed in such a way that they can be independent of the main building structure.

Vertical expansion

You probably won’t be surprised to know that racking systems are an extremely useful storage solution that makes the most of the vertical space in any warehouse. In particularly tall settings or those that require a separate area, they can even be paired up with custom-built mezzanine floors.

What is industrial shelving?

Industrial shelving isn’t too different from the shelves that you have at home, except for the fact that they are (most likely) much larger and made with stronger materials. A sought-after storage solution for goods that are individually picked by hand, industrial shelving is practical and versatile.

In fact, industrial shelving comes in all sorts of sizes and can be designed to fit the layout of a specific commercial or industrial environment, whether that’s a warehouse, an office, or a shop.

In general, however, it’s intended for smaller goods that can physically be reached and handled without the use of mechanised systems.

As for materials, most industrial shelving is made of metal, but it can sometimes include other options such as wood.

Types of shelving

Industrial shelving comes in many different types. For example, these shelves can either have a solid back or an open design. Other shelving solutions might include additional features or different designs to match the needs of a specific commercial or industrial environment, like hanging garment rail systems.

What is the difference between racking and shelving?

The difference between racking and shelving is actually rather simple. The former is a popular storage solution for larger goods accessed via forklifts or mechanical equipment, whereas the latter is a lighter-duty option for items that are physically picked up by individuals.

Furthermore, racking is usually taller and deeper than shelves, made to store heavier and more cumbersome items.

Shelving puts organisation and easy-access first, but it can still consist of multiple levels and be designed to withstand heavy loads, too.

So, what’s the right storage solution for me: racking vs shelving?

As you’ve probably realised by now, pallet racking versus shelving, one isn’t better than the other: they’re both handy and they both offer space-optimising storage solutions that can streamline your warehouse or storage area.

The important thing is to figure out which of these options is the right storage solution for your needs. This will mainly depend on what type of goods you’re storing? In what quantity? And how you are planning to access them?

For larger boxes or pallets, we definitely recommend sturdy racking that’s designed to complement your warehouse’s layout and be used with forklifts and cherry pickers (especially if you have a large storage area).

For smaller goods that must be kept visually organised and hand-selected, shelving is guaranteed to make your life easier. Additional layers can help you make the most of smaller settings, too.

Now you know the difference between racking and shelving. However, it doesn’t necessarily have to be one or the other! If your warehouse or commercial setting involves different types of goods and procedures, the right storage solution for you could be a combination of pallet racking and shelving.

At Raxel we offer both and, most importantly, we can design them to maximise the space in your specific setting. Not 100% sure as to whether you need racking vs shelving or a combination of the two?
Call us on 01476 569 392 or email sales@raxel.co.uk and we’ll be happy to help you figure out which solution is the best fit for you.