Are you considering buying shelving for office, parts department, or warehouse storage? There’s a lot more to buying shelving than just how high, wide, and deep you want it. At least, there should be, if you don’t want to waste a lot of money on storage racking unfit for purpose. Before getting out the tape measure, check out this list on how to ensure you get the right shelving for your needs.

What do you want to store?

Seems a rather basic question, but what you intend to store will have a big bearing on the depth of shelving you need, and the height between shelves. If the shelving is to be full of similar document box-files you just need the dimensions of the box, times the number of boxes, plus enough additional shelving for future storage. Smaller, miscellaneous items such as external hard-drives, memory sticks, and other office paraphernalia, can also be housed in box-files or normal storage boxes, and labelled.

Will you be storing heavy items?

The weight of materials you want to store will also have a large impact on the shelving required, if you don’t want it falling around your ears. Even a single box-file, if it’s full of A4 documents, weighs heavy. Shelf bracket loads are given in kilograms for a ‘uniformly distributed load’. If a bracket is rated for 50kgs, and the shelf is supported by three brackets, the shelf’s maximum carrying weight would be 150kgs. Always over, rather than under-estimate your weights.

Design an efficient system

Once you’ve decided what you want to store, and the shelving needed to store it, it’s time to design an effective workable system. Is the shelving to be used for the storage of archived documents, or will it be accessed throughout the working day? Do you want the shelving to reach ceiling height? If so, you will need to include mobile steps for researchers to access the material. Will a labelling system make document or other stored items easier to locate?

Space is always at a premium

Will your chosen shelving area have enough space to accommodate everything you want to store, with enough spare capacity to handle future needs? Even in the largest of storerooms or warehouses, as the shelving goes in, all that space seems to evaporate. Remember, on standard shelving configurations, between every two shelf runs, you need a walkway for access to shelves on the left and right. In fact, your walkways will eat up as much floor area as the shelving, more so, if the walkway needs to be wide enough for a trolley or pallet truck. There is though, a good practical way, to maximise storage space.

Mobile Shelving

Mobile shelving systems can provide up to 300% more storage space than conventional filing cabinets, and 100% more shelf space than static shelving systems. Mobile shelving reduces the need for all those walkways that eat up so much of the space. With track laid in or on the floor, wheeled shelving units can be moved manually or electrically along the track. With a space the width of the required walkway at one end of the shelving, each shelving module can be moved to allow access to each block of the system.

Take time with the planning

There are still plenty of free basic computer aided drawing packages out there, which are adequate for planning the layout of your new storeroom. If your computer skills don’t stretch that far, a sheet of graph paper and pencil will do the job just as well. Whichever method you use, make sure you’ve allowed for everything you need, and have double-checked your measurements, before ordering your shelving.

Types of shelving

Nowadays, shelving is available in a range of styles and colours. You can buy bolt together kits, or bolt-less kits, which just clip together. For businesses where archive storage plays a large part in daily operations, mobile shelving systems may be the way to go for efficient long-term storage needs.