Mistakes to Avoid When Choosing Mobile Shelving Systems

Mobile shelving systems enable a wide range of businesses, from warehouses and factories to restaurants, to reduce the footprint of high-density storage systems and are highly adaptable to the ever-changing demands of your business. Consisting of pallet racking systems on a mobile base, this option allows you to take full advantage of your floor space.

Benefits of Mobile Shelving Systems

Many warehouses and factories use stationary shelving and racking systems to store merchandise and inventory for retrieval. For some warehouses, this is more than sufficient.

If your warehouse is growing, you may find that you need additional storage space. These additions require extra lighting, heating and air conditioning, and space that you could be using to house additional inventory. You also need to account for the additional space required between the aisles to accommodate forklifts and other picking and materials handling equipment.

Mobile shelving and racking systems enable you to use space more efficiently. You can adjust the racking systems to leave an aisle open according to needs. When your personnel don’t need to retrieve inventory, the aisles can remain closed.

Types of Mobile Shelving Systems

Mobile shelving systems

Mobile shelving systems are available in either mechanical-assist or electrically driven varieties, each with its advantages. When you need to create an aisle to access a mechanical shelving unit’s contents, you rotate a handle to move the shelving on a mobile carriage. Mechanical-assist systems allow you to move several tons with minimal force.

Powered mobile systems move carriages by electronic control. Some of the advantages of powered shelving systems include increased speed, productivity, and safety. An oft-overlooked plus is data tracking. This is relevant to security, as the business can monitor who opened an aisle, when, and for how long.

In addition to factories and warehouses, applications for powered high-density mobile shelving include hospitals, libraries, athletic equipment rooms, office complexes, retail stockrooms, and storage of archives and records.

There are also mobile shelving units that run on casters. These are simple, low-tech alternatives that can work for some storage demands, including small automotive parts and tools.


Powered shelving systems benefit from automatic safety features, such as motion sensors, ensuring that, should a person occupy the aisle space between two mobile shelving units, they will not suffer injury. Safety mechanisms like this are also crucial for protecting merchandise. There’s also a safety sweep device that a staff member can step on to cause a braking action.

Mechanical-assist systems typically use one or two locking pins to freeze the handle in place. Unfortunately, for this system to work and secure the carriage, the worker must remember to apply it before entering the aisle.

Proper storage requires strict adherence to safety protocols. Your personnel should be trained on how to load and unload shelving systems, not climb on them, and check sensors and sweeps to ensure they are in proper working order.

Mistakes to Avoid

When you’re evaluating mobile shelving systems for your warehouse, there are certain pitfalls you should avoid. These mistakes can cost you money, waste time, or, at best, provide suboptimal results. If you’re searching for a mobile shelving system, you’re trying to increase organizational efficiency and worker productivity. That requires planning.

Not accounting for space requirements

Planning for the necessary storage space is critical. Floor space is at a premium in warehouses, and space optimization is the primary reason for purchasing mobile shelving. The space availability is also dictated by the material handling equipment that your personnel use.

For example, the space requirements between shelving systems will differ for forklift operators, who need to account for the vehicle’s turning radius than those who operate pallet jacks.

When planning to install mobile shelving, it’s critical that you plan the quantity, dimensions, and weight of the inventory that these shelving units will have to support.

This allows you to determine how many racking units you will need, how many units your warehouse floor space can permit, and the type. For example, if you need storage racks for rods, tubing, piping, bar stock, and lumbar, you may want to investigate mobile cantilever systems.

Storage and retrieval process

The storage process in a warehouse is affected by several logistical and environmental factors. How you organize docking, receiving, and storage determines the optimal storage solutions. This includes FIFO and LIFO — two inventory management methods that you’ll use in the field of storage and distribution.

FIFO is an acronym that stands for “first in, first out.” This means that the first item that enters your facility is also the first item to leave. FIFO is often necessary for perishable goods.

LIFO stands for “last in, first out.” In a LIFO layout, the last item that enters the warehouse is the first item to be sold or otherwise removed from stock.

You should also consider whether the type of mobile shelving system is compatible with any automated retrieval and storage system that you have or intend to install. These types of systems can store and retrieve inventory on demand using a variety of different methods, from cranes and carousels.

Material selection

Whether you choose mobile or stationary shelving, the material you select should be appropriate to the environment. If your shelving units will be supporting heavy machine parts, castings, and dies, you need to be aware of weight limits. If your shelving will be housed in high-humidity or cold environments, it’s worth seeking a proper level of corrosion resistance.

In addition, in those warehouses where forklift traffic is high, you should account for the shelving system’s ability to endure impact damage. Furthermore, the type of inventory that you regularly handle also affects a particular shelving system’s suitability.


It’s not good enough to be aware of the weight limits you’ll need when ordering shelving. You should also ensure that your staff is adequately trained and understand proper loading procedures. Overloading a shelving system, either regarding weight or volume, can cause damage to the system and, potentially, collapse.

Improper use

If your shelving systems keep merchandise or inventory at inaccessible heights or depths from pickers and other staff members, there may be an incentive to scale the shelving unit to retrieve it. This can cause injury to your personnel and damage both the merchandise and the shelving system.

Failure to assess condition

You should periodically evaluate the condition of shelving systems, whether mechanical or powered, to ensure that they have not suffered damage due to forklift impact or other causes. If repairs are necessary, ensure that they are implemented as soon as possible. A damaged shelving system is not only a potential drain on resources — it’s a potential safety hazard.

Maximize Your Warehouse Space With Mobile Shelving

At Shelving + Rack Systems, Inc., we pride ourselves on finding cost-effective and versatile storage solutions for warehouses, factories, offices, and other industry types like healthcare, commercial restaurants, and law enforcement.   

Whether mechanically or electrically operated, high-density mobile storage systems can provide you with the extra space you need to thrive. Give us a call at (800) 589-7225, and we’ll help you determine the perfect mobile shelving system for your business.