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Guide to types of industrial shelving and applications

8 Dec, 2023
Navigate through the complex world of industrial shelving with our comprehensive guide, highlighting various types and their applications. Whether it’s for bulky items or high-density storage, find the perfect shelving solution to streamline your operations and maximise space efficiency in any industrial setting.

Storage is a vital aspect of running any business smoothly. In different industries like factories, warehouses, and distribution centers, having the right storage solutions is crucial. That’s where industrial shelving comes in handy. These shelving systems help organize goods and materials efficiently, making it easy to store and find things when needed. In this article, we’ll explore the different types of industrial shelving available and where they are commonly used. Understanding these options will help businesses make better choices to manage their storage space effectively and improve overall operations.

Boltless Shelving

Boltless shelving, also known as rivet shelving, is a popular choice due to its easy assembly and versatility. The system typically features horizontal beams that are attached to vertical posts without the need for nuts and bolts. It provides quick and tool-free installation, making it ideal for rapidly changing storage demands in various industries. Boltless shelving is commonly used for light to medium-duty applications and is particularly well-suited for storing small parts, tools, and equipment.

When to use boltless shelving

Warehouses, workshops, retail stores, and electronic component storage.

Pallet Racking

Pallet racking is a heavy-duty industrial shelving system designed to store palletised goods. It offers high-density storage, enabling businesses to maximise their warehouse space efficiently. Pallet racking comes in various configurations, including selective, drive-in, and push-back, each catering to specific storage needs. Selective pallet racking allows easy access to individual pallets, while drive-in and push-back systems facilitate high-density storage with fewer access points.

When to use pallet racking

Applications: Large-scale warehouses, distribution centres, and logistics facilities.

Cantilever Racks

Cantilever racking systems are uniquely designed for storing long, bulky, or irregularly shaped items. The system consists of horizontal arms attached to vertical columns, creating an open-front structure that allows easy loading and unloading of goods. Cantilever racks are particularly popular in industries dealing with lumber, pipes, steel bars, and other lengthy materials.

when to use Cantilever Racks

Applications: Lumber yards, plumbing supply centres, steel fabrication facilities, and furniture warehouses.

Steel Shelving

Steel shelving is a robust and versatile option for various industrial applications. It is known for its durability, strength, and resistance to corrosion. Steel shelves can be adjusted to different heights, making them adaptable to changing storage needs. Additionally, they often have high weight capacities, making them suitable for storing heavy items securely.

when to use Steel Shelving

Applications: Industrial facilities, automotive parts storage, manufacturing plants.

Mobile Shelving

Mobile shelving, also known as compact shelving or high-density mobile storage, is an innovative solution to optimise storage space. These systems use tracks to create movable aisles, allowing access to only one aisle at a time. By eliminating wasted aisle space, mobile shelving can significantly increase storage capacity. It is ideal for applications where space is at a premium and storage density is crucial.

when to use Mobile Shelving

Applications: Archive rooms, museums, medical facilities, and offices.

Wire Shelving

Wire shelving is a lightweight and cost-effective option for storage, providing excellent visibility and airflow. Its open design prevents dust buildup and makes it easy to spot and retrieve items. Wire shelving is often used in applications where cleanliness and ventilation are essential.

when to use Wire Shelving

Applications: Food storage, medical facilities, retail displays.

Modular Shelving

Modular shelving systems are versatile and can be customized to fit specific storage needs. They often consist of interlocking units that can be easily assembled and reconfigured as needed. 

when to use Modular Shelving

Applications: Offices, libraries, retail stores, and warehouses where flexible and customizable storage solutions are required. Modular shelving is well-suited for organizing books, files, office supplies, retail merchandise, and various items of different sizes.

Gravity Flow Racks

Gravity flow racks, or carton flow racks, are designed for high-density storage and order picking. They feature sloped shelves with roller tracks, allowing products to move forward under the force of gravity. This promotes efficient inventory rotation and helps streamline order fulfilment processes.

when to use Gravity Flow Racks

Applications: Distribution centers, order fulfillment centers, and warehouses dealing with high-volume inventory. Gravity flow racks are ideal for managing perishable goods, assembly line components, and other items that require efficient rotation and order picking.

Mezzanine Shelving

Mezzanine shelving involves creating additional storage levels by utilising the vertical space in a warehouse or facility. These platforms are often built above the ground floor, providing extra storage without expanding the building’s footprint. Mezzanines can be used for various storage purposes, including office space, storage, or production areas. Also known as raised storage areas.

when to use Mezzanine Shelving

Applications: Warehouses, manufacturing plants, and distribution centres seeking to optimise vertical space without expanding the building’s footprint. Mezzanine shelving creates additional storage or workspace areas, making it ideal for large facilities with high ceilings.

Vertical Lift Modules (VLMs)

Vertical Lift Modules are automated storage systems that use an enclosed structure with trays or shelves. A computer-controlled lift mechanism retrieves items from the trays and delivers them to an access point, reducing the need for manual picking and improving storage density and efficiency.

when to use Vertical Lift Modules

Applications: Automated storage and retrieval systems like VLMs are commonly used in warehouses, distribution centres, and manufacturing facilities dealing with a high volume of small to medium-sized items. They are particularly beneficial in e-commerce fulfilment centres and industries requiring rapid access to stored items.

Automated Storage and Retrieval Systems (AS/RS)

AS/RS is a sophisticated, computer-controlled system that automates storing and retrieving items from designated locations. These systems use robotics and conveyors to move goods, providing rapid and accurate access to stored items. 

when to use Automated Storage and Retrieval Systems

Applications: High-volume distribution centres, manufacturing plants, and warehouses where space optimisation and automated storage and retrieval are essential. AS/RS systems increase storage capacity and expedite order fulfilment, making them ideal for industries with high-demand products.

Slotted Angle Shelving

Slotted angle shelving, also known as RUT shelving, consists of metal angles and metal shelves, which can be adjusted to different heights and angles to accommodate various storage needs. It is a cost-effective option for light to medium-duty storage applications.

when to use Slotted Angle Shelving

Applications: Slotted angle shelving is used in various industries for light to medium-duty storage needs. It finds applications in workshops, tool cribs, retail stockrooms, and spare parts storage.

Archive Shelving

Archive shelving is specifically designed to store documents, records, and files. These shelves often have dividers or compartments to keep documents organised and easily accessible, making them ideal for offices, libraries, and record-keeping facilities.

when to use Archive Shelving

Applications: Offices, record-keeping facilities, libraries, and government agencies where secure and organised document storage is essential. Archive shelving helps maintain easy access and protection of important records and files.

Louvre Shelving

Louvre shelving, also referred to as bin shelving or pick rack systems, is designed for organising small parts, components, and supplies. The shelving units have pre-drilled louvre panels or bins that can accommodate plastic or metal storage bins. These bins are easily removable, making accessing and restocking items convenient. Louvre shelving is widely used in automotive shops, hardware stores, and manufacturing facilities for efficient parts storage and retrieval.

when to use Louvre Shelving

Applications: Automotive shops, hardware stores, manufacturing facilities, and small parts storage areas where efficient organisation and easy access to small components are essential. Louvre shelving streamlines inventory management and retrieval of small items.


Selecting the right industrial shelving system ensures efficient storage, organisation, and accessibility of goods and materials. Each type of shelving offers unique advantages, catering to specific storage needs across various industries. Understanding the characteristics and applications of these shelving systems will empower businesses to make informed decisions and create streamlined and optimised storage solutions. Whether you require heavy-duty pallet racking for large warehouses or versatile boltless shelving for a flexible workshop setup, the wide range of industrial shelving options ensures a perfect solution for every storage requirement. Contact Total Racking Systems today to discuss your needs.

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