Industrial Shelving vs Pallet Racking

The Main Differences Between Industrial Shelving & Pallet Racking

Despite the fact that many may assume that shelving and racking are the same thing,  for those who work in the warehouse or industrial industry,  it’s essential to consider the differences and evaluate how they can both benefit your business in different ways. Here at Cracking Racking, we have laid out some of the differences so you can get a better understanding of which option is best for you and your business. 


While shelving is available in an array of sizes, it is usually used for smaller goods that are typically easy to access by hand. If you work in an industry where the majority of picking is done by hand, then shelving makes the best option. 

Industrial metal shelving is one of the strongest and sturdiest types of space-saving shelving you can get for a warehouse environment. Metal shelving is generally free-standing meaning it can be designed within a rack system or incorporated into a display system.

Providing sufficient shelving can provide clear organisation, which can boost employee morale and productivity,  and lead to a smooth-running business. The key to a successful running operation is storing items in appropriate locations, from paperwork and books to heavy industrial products, there are many different types of shelving available to suit your needs. 

Don’t know what type of shelving system suits your needs? Browse our blog article ‘What Type Of Shelving Do I need?’ where you’ll find advice and tips to suit your warehouse needs. 

Pallet Racking

Pallet racks are frequently designed for access by automated systems such as forklifts or cherry pickers, rather than by hand. Racking solutions are often much taller and deeper than shelves, great for warehouses with height, as it maximises the space available; providing more room for manoeuvre and larger storage capacity. As racking tends to be deeper than shelving, you can store pallets of smaller products or individual larger items. 

Pallet racking stores bulky or industrial-sized items, so they are produced from heavy-duty metal and are usually attached to the floor or walls for additional stability. Racking pallets can have solid shelves, or no shelves at all, depending on what is being stored.  Cantilever racking, for example, has special rails that pallets can slide into. 

Racking is generally a structure of bars for holding a specific load and boasts a more open design,  whereas shelving has a solid slab that supports the product.

Do you need shelving or racking? The answer really depends on what you’re wanting to store.  

What is Industrial Shelving Used For?

If you don’t think you’ll be using forklifts to move large pallets of products, shelving may be the way to go. 

  • Industrial shelving systems are considered the most versatile shelving available as they can hold items of all shapes and sizes. Dividers and extensions can also be added to increase storage space and make items easier to organise or retrieve. 
  • Long span shelving is used to store large and heavy items. Easily modifiable, these shelves can combine with existing pallet racking to hold heavier items without the need for extra space.

What is Pallet Racking Used For?

If you’re going to be moving large amounts of goods on pallets, you’ll need racking.

  • Racking systems are the most common form of warehouse racking systems, they are designed to stock materials in horizontal rows with multiple levels. 
  • Cantilever racking is ideal for storing long, oddly shaped or bulky items that aren’t transported on pallets. 
  • Sheet racking is great for storing chipboard, timer, steel, plywood or any other sheet format material. 
  • Bar and vertical storage racks are perfect for use in warehouses, workshops or factories for storing bars, pipes or long material. 
  • Used pallet racking is totally reliable and durable for all of your warehouse needs.

Which is More Suitable for a Warehouse?

Some warehouses have either one storage solution or the other, but you can have a combination of both pallet racking and shelving in different areas of your warehouse. This will allow you to optimise the space in your entire warehouse.

Where Can I Buy Industrial Shelving Units/Pallet Racking?

Here at Cracking Racking, we specialise in shelving and racking solutions, that’s why you’ll find a comprehensive selection of shelving systems, as well as used shelving,  used long-span shelving and used pallet racking, which make a great addition to a whole host businesses environments; from small, independent retailers to large-scale warehouses, our racking is reliable, extremely sturdy and fabricated by our in-house team to your specifications. 

Used shelving or racking doesn’t mean you have to settle for low quality,  our used shelving here at Cracking Racking is totally reliable and durable for all of your warehouse needs. 

Where order picking is essential, we have an expert fabrication team who can fabricate the used shelving to whatever suits the customer’s needs.  Choose from major leading brands such as Link 51, Dexion, and more. You can rest assured on a high-quality product that has been fully inspected before resale

Please contact our sales team if you need any assistance on 0161 330 1164 or email us at