Common FAQs - When Does Shelving Become Racking?

A view on the definitions of racking and shelving

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14 May 2020

Q. Could you please shed some light on the question 'When does shelving become racking?'

A. Generally, shelving is storage media that cannot be approached by mechanical handling devices such as fork lift trucks, order pickers and other heavy pieces of mechanical handling equipment where it would be classed as racking. The reasoning being that with thin shelving upright and other sections an accidental collision from a piece of mechanical handling equipment can be very dangerous. Shelving is therefore normally hand loaded and due to manual handling guidance, has unit loads of less than 20 or 25 Kg depending on the country, and is isolated from heavy mechanical handling equipment.

It is often thought that ‘shelving’ would have a height restriction however as I am sure you are aware it is possible to have 3 and 4 tier shelving systems as well as having crane swept systems where the crane is guided by mechanical means such that there is no possibility of the crane hitting the shelving structure. If shelving is correctly designed such high shelving structures are perfectly possible. Where this occurs the hand loading and picking as opposed to mechanical handling is the means of operation that probably gives the clearest definition between the two.

Just to complete the story, shelving is not suitable under any circumstances for operatives climbing the shelves to retrieve items of goods.

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