What’s the difference between pallet racking and industrial shelving?

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Although both industrial shelving and pallet racking are used to store goods, most commonly in a warehouse setting, they are actually two very different things. Pallet racking is a steel structure composed of a frame with interlocking beams that support pallets. Shelving, on the other hand, is made up of flat horizontal planes where items can either be stored or displayed.

pallet racking and industrial shelving

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Below, we look at how these items differ and in which situations you might use one in preference to the other.

Pallet racking

Much larger and deeper in size than industrial shelving, pallet racking, according to Wikipedia, is a material handling storage aid system designed to store materials on pallets. These can only be accessed by machinery such as forklifts, due to their size and weight. The racking can be constructed to any height, although many have restrictions due to health and safety and are almost always bolted to the floor for added security. They are more durable than industrial shelving due to the added weight they have to withstand, and rather than a solid shelf, they are constructed of mesh shelves that pallets can easily slide into.

Industrial shelving

Think of the type of shelf that you would see in a supermarket and you’re on the right track. Industrial shelving is a typical shelf used to store small goods that can be easily accessed by hand. Normally made out of metal, or less frequently wood, industrial shelving hold goods that are stored individually and not by pallet. They do not need machinery in order to be stocked, although increasingly, drone systems are now being used to collect high placed items from warehouses using this type of shelving. Industrial shelving can be either fixed to the ground using bolts or on wheels so it can be moved around a warehouse easily. Industrial shelving in Ireland can be found at https://www.rackzone.ie/shelving/industrial-residential-shelving.

pallet racking and industrial shelving

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Which should you choose?

That depends on what you want to store. If you plan on stocking individual items that you’ll be able to select by hand, then you’ll probably be just fine with industrial shelving. For heavier items that come in bulk on pallets that need heavy machinery to move them, you should consider installing some sturdier racks that can deal with the extra weight.

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