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Top Types of Industrial Shelving and Uses

Depending on the type of business you are running, the type of industrial shelves you choose is as important to your budget as it is to keeping everything organized and flowing smoothly. Finding the right shelving system that is easy to install, exceptionally durable, and provides you with a certain amount of flexibility should not be overly frustrating. At Carolina Material Handling, we can help you with a range of different styles of industrial shelving, including particle board shelving, widespan rack, metal shelving, wire shelving, Interlake and other warehouse pallet racking systems.

Industrial Shelves

Considerations When Buying Industrial Shelves

There are several things you must into take consideration when looking at the various types of industrial shelves currently available. First and foremost, you need to carefully measure the amount of floor space you have in which to install your new shelving. While most shelving comes in a range of sizes, most can be modified to fit into your specific areas. Weight is another major consideration.

What do you plan to store on the shelves? Is it breakable? What is the weight of the heaviest item to be stored on the shelves? Are you considering shelves for long term storage or do your employees need to be able to easily add and remove inventory on a regular basis? Although looks may not be important to you if your clients are not going to see them, just how important are looks likely to be? In a warehouse or industrial setting looks may not matter, but in a retail setting, they can play a huge part in how your customers view your company and your merchandise.

You should also think about how items to be stored will be placed on or removed from the shelves. Are they going to be forklifted, rolled on, slid on, or simply lifted on and off by hand? Do you need industrial shelves that make use of every inch of vertical space? Although this might seem like a lot of questions, buying shelving for your business typically involves a significant financial investment and it is very important you make the right choice the first time.

In most instances, cost does factor into the final decision, but at the same time, it should not be the final deciding factor. It is far more important for you to purchase the best possible type of industrial shelving to fit your needs. Whether there are less expensive shelves available or not, buying the right ones the first time is far more likely to provide you with the best possible return on your investment.

Steel Shelving

Steel shelving is among the most commonly used shelving in most industrial applications. Not only is this type of shelving relatively inexpensive, it is very robust in design, providing you with many years of service. Steel shelving has the advantage of being able to take on the brunt of your storage needs and can handle varying amounts of weight depending on the gauge of the steel, the design of the shelves, and their support system. There are two different styles of this type of shelving:

Closed Steel Shelving – This form of shelving features sheet metal panels on both sides and the back. This helps to make the shelves sturdier and more aesthetically pleasing. The panels also help to keep products from falling off the sides or back of the shelves.

Open Steel Shelving – Instead of steel panels, these shelves use braces to provide the necessary stability. The design allows employees to access products from all four sides. It is possible to join multiple shelving units together with longer support braces to create long shelving runs. The open-air design may also be useful in certain instances where constant air flow is necessary.

Advantages of Steel Shelving

  • Steel shelving in all its forms tends to be relatively easy to assemble and adjust to meet your specific shelving needs.
  • There are a number of options and accessories designed to let you create your own customized shelving.
  • Steel shelving is an excellent solution for high-density applications.
  • Steel shelving is also available in a range of colors to suit your application.

Disadvantages of Steel Shelving

  • This type of shelving, depending on the design, can take a significant amount of time to assemble.
  • Because of the nature of its design, steel shelving is not capable of being mounted on casters to make it mobile.
  • Depending on the style and design, this type of shelving can be quite heavy. This is especially true of closed steel shelving.
  • This can be a more costly type of shelving.

Wire Racks

Wire Shelving RackMany industries believe wire racks to be the most attractive form of industrial shelving. They are perfect for use in a wide range of commercial and industrial applications. Not only does this type of industrial shelves offer you better product visibility, it also offers better airflow than steel shelving. It easily allows you access from both sides of the shelving section. While it is not quite as durable as steel shelving, it can still hold a significant amount of weight and take a reasonable amount of abuse. It is fast and easy to assemble and ideal for smaller or larger applications.

Wire racks do not collect dust and in the event of a fire will not hinder the water spray from a fire sprinkler system. These shelves are available as stationary units, mobile units, and for bin storage, making them extremely versatile. The shelves themselves are relatively light weight and are resistant to issues such as mold or rust. They are frequently found in use in the food service industry.

Advantages of Wire Racks

  • Wire racks are relatively lightweight and can be easily mounted on casters to create mobile shelving.
  • Dirt and dust fall between the wires of the shelves making them much easier to keep clean.
  • The open grate design will not block water from your fire sprinkler system.

Disadvantages of Wire Racks

  • Wire racks can be more expensive than standard steel racks.
  • Wire racks have a limited load carrying capacity by virtue of the design.
  • Again, due to the design and lack of load carrying ability, wire racks come in a limited range of sizes.

Bulk Storage Racks (Widespan Racks)

Widespan RacksIndustrial storage racks come in an incredibly wide array of sizes intended to let you decide the best possible configuration for your specific application. One of the more common varieties of this type of industrial shelving is the wide span shelf. These shelves feature heavy duty uprights and cross braces made to handle a load. Depending on the type of shelving you order, a single shelf may be able to hold several hundred pounds.

In most cases, the shelves are made from 1/2-inch or thicker plywood that can be easily replaced should it become damaged. However, you can also buy galvanized steel shelving panels for those items that cannot, for one reason or another, be stored on a wood shelf. This may include chemicals, certain foods, and items that are simply too heavy for a wood shelf to handle.

Advantages of Bulk Storage Racks

  • Storage racks are among the most versatile forms of industrial shelving.
  • By nature of their design, storage racks tend to be among the easiest forms of shelving to assemble.
  • Made from heavy gauge steel, these racks can handle surprisingly heavy loads.
  • Shelving such as this can handle loads of up to 2500 pounds or more thanks to the solid steel framework.

Disadvantages of Bulk Storage Racks

  • The heavy gauge steel adds a fair amount of weight making most storage racks quite heavy.
  • Due to the nature of its design, this type of shelving is only offered in a limited range of sizes.
  • This is a very basic form of shelving that is intended to be used in warehouses, storage rooms, and anywhere out of sight as it is not the most attractive form of shelving.
  • Not to be used with fork trucks.

Rivet Shelving

Rivet Shelving PhotoRivet shelving is considered to be the most economical form of industrial shelving available. It tends to be strong, durable and can provide exceptionally easy access to both sides of the shelving section. The rivet design entails affixing a rivet-like head to either the corners of the shelves or on the steel framework at specific intervals.

Assembling rivet shelving requires no more than sliding the rivets of each beam into slots on the frame at the desired height, then tapping with a rubber mallet to lock into place. Another term used for these types of industrial shelves made by companies like Interlake Racks is boltless shelves as they require absolutely no bolts to assemble them. They can be used in warehouses, stock rooms, and for a wide range of industrial applications.


Advantages of Rivet Shelves

  • This is a very economical form of steel shelving that has a wide range of uses throughout your business.
  • Rivet shelves are very easy to assemble as they do not require any form of hardware to put them together. The only tool you may need is a rubber mallet to set the shelf rivets in place on the legs.

Disadvantages of Rivet Shelves

  • These shelves are made of very heavy gauge steel, which in turn makes them very heavy overall.
  • Again, like many other forms of industrial shelving, these are not the most appealing shelves to look at.
  • Beyond the width and depth of the shelves themselves, rivet shelves offer a limited range of options to choose from.

Pallet Racking Systems

pallet racking installationIf your business or industrial facility receives inventory or stores it on pallets, you need somewhere to store everything off the floor in an easy to access format. Pallet racking systems are the answer to your problems and let you make better use of vertical space. Pallet storage racks feature a heavy-duty frame along with heavy duty beam levels.

The entire shelving system frame is assembled using nuts and bolts or welding to ensure it stays firmly put together. Using bolts to anchor the racking system to the floor also helps to ensure the shelves are not accidentally knocked over by the forks of the forklift. You can adjust each individual shelf height to suit the palletized items you need to store. There is a wide range of accessories available designed to let you customize your shelving to meet your varied storage needs.

Advantage of Pallet Racking Systems

  • This form of racking system is extremely versatile and comes with a wide selection of storage accessories and options.
  • The bolt-together assembly is exceptionally strong and designed to ensure the forks of a forklift do not knock the shelves loose.
  • Pallet racking systems are designed to provide ease of access via forklift at all levels to reduce the risk of injury or damage and speed up loading and unloading.
  • Vitually every color option is available.
  • Virtually any size, depth, and height is available.

Disadvantages of Pallet Racking Systems.

  • None.

Final Thoughts

CMH LogoCarolina Material Handling offers a wide range of industrial shelving options for you to choose from. Whether you are adding shelving to a retail store, your production line, or your warehouses, we have what you need, in stock and ready to deliver. We have a team of dedicated experts who will answer your questions and then work with you to find the best solution.

It is our goal to provide the information and resources to help you find a workable storage and shelving solution for your business. We provide shelving solutions throughout the southeastern parts of the U.S. including Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia. Our sales team can perform a personalized, on-site consultation to help you choose the perfect system for your business.

Call Carolina Material Handling at (800) 822-8833 to speak to a material handling expert about the many forms of industrial shelving we have available, and to help your business thrive in the future.