Shelving vs. Pallet Racking

There are important differences between shelving and racking. Each option is ideal for different inventory and situations, and making the right choice helps you protect inventory, stay organized and even save on storage costs. 

In this article, we delve deeper into the rack vs. shelf debate to help you decide which solution would work best for your needs. If you are interested in more customized information to select the right storage solutions, contact Tennessee Rack to speak to our expert team and get a free quote. Otherwise, continue reading to learn about shelving and pallet racking.

What Is Shelving?

Shelving is an umbrella term that can refer to many kinds of storage systems. In warehouses, shelving is used for small products and items that are retrieved by hand or by light drone systems. 

For products not placed by pallets, shelves are ideal. They keep items separate and allow team members to select items for packaging alone or together. For example, in a warehouse that assembles direct-to-consumer kits, individual items for every kit may be stored on shelves, so workers can retrieve these items and assemble the product for shipping. 

Warehouse shelves are usually made from a single piece of metal or wood. They can reach different heights and have various numbers of shelves, depending on how many items need to be stored. 

Shelves for warehouses can have backs for extra stability or no backs to allow for easy retrieval from multiple aisles. Some are bolted to the ground or floor, while others are mechanized or have wheels for easy moving. 

What Is Racking?

Racking, sometimes also known as pallet racks, is much higher than shelves, and these solutions are designed to be used with cherry pickers, forklifts, and other machinery for item retrieval. These storage products are spaced with much larger aisles than shelving for this reason. 

Racking is ideal for large items, boxes of products or pallets full of products. This storage solution is made from heavy-duty materials, such as metals, and usually features no shelves or mesh shelves for item separation. The design often includes rails to secure the pallets. Racking is secured to the wall or floor because of the weight these storage solutions are expected to hold. 

Rack vs. Shelf — How to Know What to Choose

If you need a storage solution, keep in mind that shelving and racking are not mutually exclusive. Depending on your facility, you may need pallets, shelves and even additional options to keep inventory and other products accessible, secured and organized. 

Here are questions you may need to ask to select the right solution:

  • Do you use forklifts or other heavy equipment to carry products or materials? If you answered “yes,” then racking will be the only secure option. On the other hand, if you don’t have any of this machinery, it may not make sense to invest in racking.  
  • What are you storing? Very large items and materials will benefit from the sturdiness of racks, while small items may be easier to store on shelves, which can be used with smaller boxes, bins and other organizing features. 
  • Do you have limited space? Mechanized shelving may be the best option for you, as it doesn’t require a lot of room between shelves. If someone needs to access a shelf, they can press a button to enter a specific aisle. This allows you to fit more shelves in a smaller area.
  • Does your product or inventory setup change often? If you need to move storage solutions around frequently for easier access, shelving on wheels makes it easier to do so. With racking, you’d need to move the material from one area to another to accomplish the same thing. 

Do You Need Racking or Shelving for Your Warehouse?

Whether you’ve already decided on shelving or racking or need some extra help to decide, Tennessee Rack can assist you. We’re Tennessee’s go-to source for custom shelf and rack sales, design and installation. We’ve been in business since 2006 and, thanks to a large in-house inventory, we can fulfill many orders within 48 hours. 

When you need reliable shelving or racking that stands up to your business environment, don’t stack it. Rack it with Tennessee Rack. Contact us today for a free quote.

Call us for pickup or delivery 615-739-6174
  • Fill out a form