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A Beginner’s Guide to Warehouse and Office Shelving

Whether you work in a warehouse or an office, you’re always going to need storage.  Storage is essential for keeping things tidy and easy to access.  What’s more, it can even help you to create more space along the way.  When you work on a warehouse floor, or with filing systems, you’ll know that space is absolutely crucial!

While Erect-A-Rack specialises in pallet racking, we also provide a wide variety of shelving and filing systems because we understand that not everyone needs pallet racking for their storage needs.  What’s more, in many cases, traditional shelving and filing may actually be more efficient.  But how do you know what’s going to work best for you?

In this beginner’s guide, we’ll explore some of the basics of commercial shelving.  We’ll take a look at how shelves and cabinets could help to make your life easier.  We’ll also take you through some of the more popular and recommended systems Erect-A-Rack has available.

Why Buy Commercial or Industrial Shelving?

It’s likely that you use shelves in your everyday life at home.  Therefore, why wouldn’t you set up shelving units at work?  The main difference between commercial shelving and pallet racks is, generally, that they are built for human access.  While you would use a forklift truck or powered access to retrieve goods from pallet racks, commercial shelves are designed for safe, easy access for human hands.

What’s more, commercial and industrial shelving makes the most of your space.  Warehouses often have abundant space that is just going wasted.  Here are a few more fantastic reasons to consider setting up shelving in your warehouse or office.

The Benefits of Commercial Shelving

  • Shelving is easy to set up. Easy and quick to build; it only takes a few safe pairs of hands to get a shelving unit set up.
  • Shelving can stack up. One of the big problems with warehouses is that many firms don’t use height to their advantage.  Flexible shelving systems can be safely stacked, and easily reached with ladder or powered access systems.
  • You can choose load limits. If you’re likely to store items of different sizes and weights, it makes sense to vary your shelving systems.  Luckily, you can buy shelving that can be set to carry heavy loads as well as those which are bulky and awkward.  Too heavy or unwieldy, however, and pallet racking may be more useful instead.
  • Shelving is adaptable. While some storage systems can be inflexible, if you need to adjust a shelving unit, you can generally do so with ease.  Some shelving systems are even completely mobile for ease of access!
  • Perfect for drop-off and pick-up. Some shelving will need powered access for easy pick-up and drop-off.  However, most units are designed and built for ease of selection by hand.  If you run a business where you need to deliver warehouse items by hand to customers, shelving will be a crucial support to you.

Your needs may, of course, vary.  Think carefully about your storage system.  Is it easy to access, and efficient to work with?  If not, it may be time to bring in some shelving.

white storage rack

Types of Shelving

Now we’ve considered the general benefits of commercial shelving; it’s time for us to look at the different types available.  Here at Erect-A-Rack, we support a wide variety of shelving unit types and systems.  Some work best in warehouses, while others are ideal for use in office spaces.

It’s true that you may not know what works best for you until you see a system up close.  That’s why, in this part of our guide, we’ll take a closer look at what’s available.

Steel Shelving

For many businesses, steel shelving is the standard to aim for. Primarily used in offices, schools and library environments, steel shelves are robust, flexible, and resistant to heat and other potential causes of damage.  They can also hold a lot of weight per unit, making them surprisingly hardy.

This type of shelving is also popular due to its adjustable nature.  Unlike some fixed solutions, metal shelves can be easily readjusted and repositioned for ease of access.  They are surprisingly lightweight, and really make use of your space.  For most businesses, public bodies included, they offer brilliant value from day to day.

Gondola Shelving

Gondola shelving is standard in retail; however, that doesn’t make it any less flexible for use elsewhere.  These are cantilevered systems which are often very easy to configure and move around.  For retail and public service situations, flexibility is vital.

These shelving units are often fairly wide and lightweight.  However, despite their relatively light structure, they are impressively robust.  They can be installed to walls or as part of an island system if you prefer – as you can present products on either side.  Therefore, they may make for a perfect modern library setup.  People will often choose a gondola system if they want to show off a range of products to customers.

Gondola systems are very eye-catching and easy to keep tidy.  You can also change its various pieces around to fit your needs.

Long Span Shelving

Long span shelving is a popular warehouse standard.  These shelving systems are designed to take up maximum wall space.  Fantastic when setting up against back walls, they provide length where other systems may not.  These systems are also built with high density in mind.  That means, as with pallet racking, you’ll be able to stack multiple items horizontally and vertically.

Long span units are preferred by firms who want to make the most of their space.  This type of shelving is easy to set up and, for many people, presents a lighter and more flexible alternative to pallet racking.  Pallet racks, of course, maybe more durable, so it’s all about finding the right balance – and for ease of human access, long span units often provide the best support.

Mobile Shelving

Mobile shelving systems are fantastic at tucking items away and making the most of space. Portable storage and filing will commonly be found in libraries and office spaces thanks to their high-density application and design.  That means that you can condense thousands of files or volumes and roll them away when you need them at a later date.

Mobile shelving can be wheeled out very easily, which means they are probably some of the most accessible units available.  They can also be designed and built to fit a variety of specific needs, too.  Therefore, if you need to condense heavy loads with ease, you may wish to hide them away with mobile racks.

Mobile racking and shelves are recommended if you need to retain floor space at most times but need flexible storage.  You won’t often find these systems in warehouses, but you can install them for a variety of bespoke reasons.

Stationery Cabinets

Stationery cabinets, as the name suggests, are best suited to environments where you’ll need access to pens, paper, PC equipment and more besides.  They can even be used to store important or potentially hazardous tools and sensitive items.  That’s why they are built to be very heavy-duty, and often come with professional locking to keep things secure.

Stationery cabinets come in various shapes and sizes.  They can be handy and are able to be used for many purposes.  You’ll likely find stationery units in offices, public buildings, libraries and schools.

Filing Cabinets

Filing cabinets are a classic standard for offices and libraries everywhere.  However, they are far from outdated.  Modern systems make storing and retrieving important documents easier than ever.  When there is still a need to store hard copies of letters and documents, you’re going to need a lightweight and attractive filing unit.

Filing cabinets, once again, come in various shapes and sizes.  Therefore, you shouldn’t ever be looking for a one-size-fits-all option.  Consider your filing needs, as well as the current space you have available.

Other Points to Consider

It’s worth remembering that the shelving you purchase is going to be dictated by your needs.  For example, a mobile shelving unit may seem attractive, but it’s not always going to be practical for your needs.  You should also be open to the idea of bespoke or custom shelving setups, which are always easy to arrange.

Commercial and industrial shelving never arrives in one flavour or form.  There are hundreds of different solutions built to support different wants and needs.  While pallet racking may help, on one hand, shelving systems could support you easier on the other.

If you’re considering setting up new shelving or cabinet systems for your business, consider consulting with an expert.  Erect-A-Rack’s wide array of shelving solutions will help you to transform the way you store your items.  Take a look at our more comprehensive catalogue, or read more of our guides and resources to learn more.  Start making more out of your space.

storage rack in room