Shelving v racking: the differences


Industrial shelving can be confusing given the sheer volume of products on offer. Whether you are running the warehouse operations of a huge multinational company or are seeking storage solutions for your small- to medium-sized business, one of the major concepts you need to grasp is the difference between shelving and racking.

Many people who contact companies selling industrial shelving in Ireland and England think that shelving and racking are the same; however, this is not the case. If you are one of these people, it is a good idea to understand the differences before making the decision about what sort of commercial storage solution will best suit your specific requirements.


Racking is normally deeper, wider and higher than shelving, offering more storage space for larger organisations or for companies storing bigger items or equipment. Racking is often associated with warehouse storage when a large amount of stock needs to be stored.

Racking makes access easy if you are storing large containers and boxes and is a large-capacity choice. It facilitates the use of equipment and machinery, such as forklifts, to make handling, moving and storing large or heavy boxes, individual items and storage crates easier.

As racking is normally used for heavier or larger items and in busier commercial settings, it is often made to be more durable and hard-wearing than shelving units meant for quieter industrial or residential settings.


In contrast, shelving choices from companies such as are often designed to be used in quieter or smaller settings where they do not have to withstand the stresses and strains caused by forklift use or the storage of excessively heavy or large containers.

Most shelving systems are accessed by hand. Whilst solid in most cases, the materials used may be better suited to the support of smaller items. Storage shelves found in supermarkets are a good example of this, offering adequate support for multiple products whilst still being easily accessible by customers and the staff who need to stock them. The health and safety regulations relating to storage solutions in the workplace are available on the HSE website.

Certain types of shelving units may also be designed to be more aesthetically pleasing than racking, given that they may be used for promotion and display purposes in commercial settings rather than simply to store items.


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