Some people think shelves and racks are the same thing, but those in the warehouse industry know they’re different. Warehouse shelving is a catchall term that is also used for both factory shelving and pallet racks, and although these are used to store items or pallets of items, they are often used in different situations. Which is right for you? It depends on what you need to store.
Shelving is the main kind of storage system. The typical industrial shelf is used in small products. People pick up and position these items by hand, not by using a forklift or some other tool. They are usually placed separately, not by pallet, while small items can be packaged together or in small boxes.
Today, though, more and more warehouses use autonomous drone systems that can hit the shelves and pick up products.
Physically, shelving is made of metal or, occasionally, wood. Shelving can be of any height and have any number of solid shelves on it. These shelves are typically made of a single piece of metal or wood rather than mesh, and some actually have a sturdy back on them as well. Although most shelves are on the ground (some are even bolted), others are on the wheels or are mechanized. These mechanized shelves can be pulled apart when anyone has to enter the middle shelf, helping to conserve space.
Pallet racks, on the other hand, are typically designed to be used only by equipment such as forklifts, cherry pickers, or automatic systems. Racks are higher and larger than shelves so they don’t have to be constrained by a person’s height or length of hair. Pallets full of items or materials may be placed in large boxes on pallet racks.
Racks are made of heavy-duty materials and are almost invariably fixed to the floor or wall for extra protection. They can be of any height, but most warehouses do not stack pallets above a certain height for safety purposes. Instead of a sturdy shelf, the pallet racks have mesh shelves or no shelves at all. Any of them have special rails that the pallets fall through.
Which is Right for your business?
Any of the warehouses is purely one form of the facility or the other. There are, however, a variety of warehouses that use both shelves and pallet racks. It’s just getting down to your needs. If you don’t think you’re going to need forklifts to transfer large pallets of goods, shelving might be the way to go. If you’re trying to transport a lot of products on pallets, you’re going to need racks.