Anyone involved with a warehouse understands how vital storage systems, like warehouse shelving, are to an efficient and safe operation. Warehouse shelving systems help keep products organized, easy to retrieve, and safe from damage. Shelving systems protect your warehouse employees from collapsed pallets and other hazards.
While investing in a warehouse storage system is straightforward, choosing and installing the correct one for your warehouse can be tricky. With so many shelving solutions available, it can be hard to decide which is the best for your business.
Before you jump in, understand the fundamentals of warehouse shelving and the basics of their installation. By doing a bit of background research, you can ensure your investment pays off in the long run.
Differences Between Shelving and Racking
Warehouse shelving and racking share some similarities: they are both efficient storage solutions for warehouse storage facilities, and both allow you to access your stored goods in a safer, more efficient manner. Despite these similarities, shelving and racking are quite different.
Warehouse racking systems are typically used to provide easier access to heavy items, such as those that require forklifts for material handling. Racking systems are also often used in warehouses that handle a high volume of pallets.
Compared to shelving, the warehouse rack installation process is more complex, and certain types of racking (like pallet rack systems) tend to be much larger than shelving systems. Moreover, pallet racking installation can be much more expensive than shelving, particularly in the case of cantilever racks, drive-in racks, or custom-made automated racking systems ordered directly from a rack designer.
On the other hand, industrial shelving is most commonly used for small, lightweight items. If the item is retrieved by hand, it is usually suitable for shelving. The installation of shelving systems also tends to be simpler and less costly than racking project installation.
Benefits of Warehouse Shelving
There are many benefits to using warehouse shelving, particularly if you run a business that relies on storing and retrieving large quantities of lightweight inventory by hand.
The most obvious benefit of warehouse shelving is that it helps to keep your inventory organized and accessible. Without shelving, your inventory can easily be scattered throughout the warehouse, making it difficult to find what you need when you need it.
Shelving also helps maximize your warehouse’s use of space since items can be stored on shelves instead of taking up valuable floor space. Shelves can also help to protect your inventory from damage by keeping it off the ground and away from potential sources of liquid or debris. Moreover, shelving systems protect warehouse employees by reducing strain and lowering the likelihood of accidents.
Overall, using warehouse shelving is an effective way to improve the efficiency, safety, and organization of your warehouse operation.
Choosing a Warehouse Shelving System
There are several variables to consider when it comes time to choose a shelving system for your warehouse.
The primary aspect to consider is the type of material you will be storing. Heavy or bulky objects will require different shelving systems than smaller, lighter objects.
You should understand the needs of your warehouse. Certain operations may require a high degree of flexibility, making the adjustability and versatility of your shelving system a prime consideration.
Other operations may require warehouse workers to be able to transport their shelves easily or to be capable of seeing stored products from below. These considerations will largely dictate what you want in a shelving system.
Types of Shelving Systems
There are numerous types of warehouse shelving systems that can be used depending on the specific needs of your warehouse operation:
Box shelving is a type of warehouse shelf most commonly used for ultra-lightweight items, such as paper goods. Some kinds of box shelving can include pre-installed boxes for storage. Others do not include these boxes but offer a flat, stable space to store boxed items.
Shelving + Rack Systems, Inc. offers several variations of box shelving systems, including our Boxer box shelving. These shelves are available in both 20 and 22 gauge and include sway braces to ensure stability.
Steel shelving is a popular type of warehouse shelving. Steel shelves are often adjustable and easy to install and maintain.
The strength and durability of steel shelving systems make them an excellent choice for warehouses storing various products, from tools to medical equipment. Steel shelves can also withstand a wide range of temperatures, making them ideal for outdoor warehouses or facilities subject to extreme climates.
Shelving + Rack Systems, Inc. offers several types of steel shelving to meet your specific needs, such as our all-welded heavy-duty steel shelving. This shelving system features reinforced 12-gauge steel shelves with an incredible 2,000-pound weight capacity, allowing you to store materials safely.
Rivet shelving is similar to steel shelving as it is durable and suitable for many warehouse operations. The biggest benefit of rivet shelving is its highly adjustable nature, which makes rivet shelving the predominant choice for warehouses that require maximum flexibility.
For example, our Space Plus USA Rivet Shelving features adjustable shelf widths up to 96 inches, adjustable depth to 48 inches, and adjustable length up to 96 inches. The boltless design allows for simple reconfiguration and installation with no tools besides a rubber mallet.
Wire shelving is a unique storage system compared to the other types of industrial shelving. While this type of shelf is not as strong or durable as rivet or steel shelving, the shelves are composed of industrial-grade wiring to allow visual access to the goods from below.
Shelving + Rack Systems, Inc. offers wire shelving that is perfect for various applications. The shelving is adjustable in 1-inch increments to allow maximum versatility, and its carbon-steel construction minimizes dust and maximizes airflow and light penetration.
Bulk Rack Shelving
Bulk rack shelving is another warehouse shelving system that allows for incredible flexibility. Bulk rack shelves feature lightweight construction for simple assembly, reconfiguration, or repositioning. Depending on your warehouse’s needs, they can feature various specifications, ranging in size and shelf construction.
Our Parent Metal Products Bulk Racks allow for rugged storage and maximum adaptability. They feature snap-in 14-gauge shelves that are adjustable at 1.5-inch levels.
Mobile Aisle Shelving
Mobile aisle shelving is a type of warehouse shelf that includes wheels to allow for enhanced mobility.
They can be used as typical shelving when the products do not need to be accessed and moved when necessary. This eliminates the need for an accessibility aisle between units and allows for a greater storage density in a smaller space.
Shelving + Rack Systems, Inc. offers several mobile aisle shelving models that are perfect for warehouses that require maximum flexibility or are looking to increase their storage density. One such model is our Mobile Shelf Trucks, which feature heavy-gauge steel shelving that allows for storing small-to-medium-sized objects. The shelf also features strong 5-inch casters and a push handle to facilitate easy movement.
You should take some time to consider safety measures before your shelving is installed, as they can help dictate the correct type of shelving for your warehouse.
The Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) Workplace Safety and Health Division recommends various safety guidelines for manual material handling in their Ergonomic Guidelines for Manual Material Handling pamphlet.
In the document, the CDC recommends that the shelving be between waist and shoulder height if employees pick up the stored materials by hand. This height will reduce strain on the employees and prevent injuries from occurring.
Heavier items should always be stocked on the bottom shelves, with lighter objects stored higher. This keeps the shelf safe from tipping or collapse and employees safe from accidents.
You should also consider the maximum load of the shelving system you are installing. It is best to choose a shelf capable of handling weights in excess of those it will be subjected to in the warehouse. This helps ensure that the shelves are strong enough and will not collapse under the weight of your items.
Planning and Preparation
Before your system installation can begin, it is important to take some time to plan and prepare for the project. This means making sure that the warehouse is clear of any obstacles that could get in the way of the installers and removing any existing shelving units that are in the way.
Once the area is clear, the next step is to survey the site to measure available space and identify potential logistical issues. This also helps you determine the type of shelving most suitable for your operation. There are a variety of shelving units available, so it is essential to select one that will be right for the needs of your inventory.
At this point, it can be a good idea to have a professional installer come in and complete the installation, depending on the type of shelving and size of your order.
Some types of shelving can be easily assembled and properly installed yourself, while other shelving types require a more laborious installation process. This can also be an important consideration when selecting a type of shelf for your warehouse: operations with smaller budgets or time constraints may want to opt for an easily-installed and adjustable shelving system.
Warehouse Shelving Systems at Shelving + Rack Systems, Inc.
Shelving + Rack Systems, Inc. is one of the top suppliers of warehouse shelving systems in the United States. We supply a large assortment of warehouse shelves to ensure we offer a high-quality product that will fit the needs of your warehouse at a cost-effective price point.
To find out how we can help your warehouse maximize organization, optimize workflow, and enhance storage density with warehouse shelving systems, call one of our project managers at (800) 589-7225 today.