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When you’re planning out a new warehouse build or reconfiguring your existing warehouse, it’s natural to start with your larger, high-volume items first. Pallet racking systems are designed for this purpose, but what about your smaller, hand-picked, miscellaneous items that require fast access without the need for a forklift?

That’s where industrial shelving comes in. Industrial shelving systems like rivet shelving, clip shelving, and wide span shelving are designed for hand-loaded items that require easy access. These types of industrial shelving allow you to store non-palletized loads where you have smaller stock and a wider variety of product types. 

Industrial shelving systems allow your warehouse team to access products by hand, without requiring special machinery. Furthermore, due to the relatively smaller sizes and modular nature of industrial shelving systems, they can be integrated into a variety of areas in your warehouse to work in conjunction with your existing high-volume, heavy load storage systems (like a selective pallet racking system).

In this article we will cover the different types of industrial shelving systems: rivet shelving, clip shelving, and wide span shelving, to help you determine which type is best for the unique needs of your warehouse.

What is Rivet Shelving?

what is rivet shelving

Rivet shelving is made of uprights, support beams, and shelves, much like a traditional rack system. Similar to teardrop rack, rivet shelving utilizes teardrop holes on the uprights that are punched at regular intervals where the pins slide into the teardrop holes. When the pins are secured at the bottom of the teardrop holes, a very stable connection is made. This makes rivet shelving systems resistant to swaying and allows for reliable load capacity and stability.

Due to its teardrop punching design, rivet shelving is also quick and easy to assemble. Rivet shelving systems can be built piece-by-piece by combining your own components, or you can start off with a rivet shelving kit that comes with all the parts you need to create a starter bay which can then be expanded by implementing adder bays.

Rivet shelving is available in a variety of heights, widths, and depths, making it very versatile on top of being reliable and secure. Additionally, rivet shelving can be found in both single and double rivet configurations. Double rivet systems offer higher load capacities and stability at the expense of taking up more vertical space and increased costs versus single rivet systems. Regardless, rivet shelving is a great option for fast-access storage solutions that require medium to heavy loads when pallet racking is not an option.

single vs double rivet shelving

Rivet Shelving: A Summary

Rivet shelving is a simple yet sturdy industrial shelving option that is constructed of only three pieces. Rivet shelving offers the easiest, fastest installation with the cleanest look. Compared to the other types of shelving (which we will cover below), it has the lowest weight capacity and is limited in available width options.

Best Used In: Warehouses with lightweight storage requirements where quick installation and low cost is a priority.

What is Clip Shelving?

what is clip shelving

Clip shelving is another common type of industrial shelving system. Much like rivet shelving systems, clip shelving systems also consist of uprights, beams, and shelves. What makes clip shelving unique is the design and construction of the system. 

The main differentiator of clip shelving is the fact that these systems are entirely made of steel and require clips to secure the shelves to the uprights. This makes clip shelving perfect for heavy-duty storage applications where you are storing corrosive materials or products with abrasive properties. In wide span storage systems and rivet shelving systems, shelving is often made of particleboard, whereas a clip shelving system has steel shelves.

The shelves on a clip-type system are attached to the uprights using compression clips. Sway braces are also added to clip shelving systems to increase the stability of the system.

clip shelving closeup

Clip shelving is also available in both open and closed-type systems. Open clip shelving systems allow you to access stored items from all sides, whereas a closed clip shelving system has panels that cover the back and sides. Open clip shelving systems are the most versatile, however, closed clip systems provide additional protection of your products from environmental elements like dust and debris, allowing you to keep your objects clean while also ensuring product doesn’t slide from one shelf to another.

open vs closed clip shelving

Clip Shelving: A Summary

Clip shelving systems are a little more complex in design than rivet shelving systems because they include clips, side bracing, and back bracing. This makes the installation time of a clip shelving system much longer than wide span storage rack and rivet shelving, however, they are the heaviest duty option as the 100% metal construction allows for greater durability. Due to the all-metal construction and increased storage capacities, chip shelving tends to be the most expensive if purchased brand new.

Best Used In: Maintenance or manufacturing environments where heavy duty storage requirements need to be met.

What is Wide Span Storage Rack?

what is wide span storage rack

Wide span shelving, is also commonly called long span shelving. Like the other types of industrial shelving, wide span shelving systems also consist of uprights, beams, and shelves. What makes wide span shelving different from clip shelving and rivet shelving is the availability of longer spanning shelves that enable you to store more products.

The uprights on a wide span shelving system that we stock here at American Storage and Logistics are designed with tapered keyhole slots. Much like rivet shelving, the tapered design of the holes reduces the amount of flex in the system, making it a strong, sturdy, and reliable quick-storage solution.

wide span storage rack closeup

The shelves in a wide span storage rack system are usually either made of particle board or wire mesh, however, laminated board is sometimes used to add protective durability to the system.

Wide Span Storage Rack: A Summary

Wide span storage rack includes additional front-to-back supports and side-to-side supports along with shelf reinforcements, allowing up to 2,500 pounds of product to be stored on in the system. Wide span storage rack offers the longest width options in terms of shelving, allowing up to 8’ of storage space.

Best Used In: Heavily trafficked eCommerce facilities or similar ‘piece pick’ type setups where flexibility is important.

Which Type of Industrial Shelving Should I Use?

The decision to use rivet shelving, clip shelving or wide span shelving comes down to your storage and load requirements. All of these systems are architected similarly, but the unique features of each system will have their pros and cons in terms of how you use them. From an assembly standpoint, all of these systems are relatively easy to set up and break down.

Lowest Cost - Winner: Rivet Shelving

Due to the relatively simple construction of rivet shelving, this type of industrial shelving system is the least expensive (if purchased brand new).

Storage Volume - Winner: Wide Span Storage Rack

Because wide span storage rack can be purchased with longer shelves, you can store more product per rack versus clip shelving and rivet shelving. This also affects the cost, as you can invest less into each shelving unit by being able to store more product on an individual rack.

Storage Weight - Tie: Wide Span Storage Rack & Clip Shelving

The punching style of wide span storage rack and rivet shelving reduces flex in the wide span system naturally by the design of the holes and pins that secure the shelving to the uprights. The added sway braces and metal shelves on a clip shelving system add significant capacity and rigidity.

Storage Accessibility: Tie: Wide Span Storage Rack & Rivet Shelving

Wide span storage rack and rivet shelving are inherently open by design, allowing you to be able to access your products from all sides of the system. On the other hand, clip shelving systems with sway braces or closed clip shelving systems will limit your access to your products from either the front (in closed systems) or front and back (in an open system).

Durability & Product Protection: Winner: Clip Shelving

Because clip shelving systems are entirely made of steel, they offer the most durability when it comes to day-to-day wear and tear as you store and retrieve your items. The steel shelves can also better withstand abuse from potentially corrosive products (think: chemicals, paint, etc.) in comparison to particleboard and wire mesh shelving.

Fastest Installation Time - Winner: Rivet Shelving

Again, due to the simple design of rivet shelving, this system offers the fastest and easiest installation of the three types of industrial shelving.

Where To Buy Industrial Shelving Near You

At American Storage & Logistics, we carry all three major types of industrial shelving: clip shelving, rivet shelving, and wide span shelving. We have fully built systems, kits, and individual components that will allow you to customize your storage solution to fit your needs. If you are in the mid-Michigan area near Grand Rapids, Lansing, Kalamazoo, or Battle Creek, you can purchase your industrial shelving products online and pick them up at our warehouse the same day, or get them delivered to your business as soon as tomorrow.

Explore our industrial shelving products that are available for online purchase or give us a call at 616-246-8700 to chat with one of our storage specialists and we can help you find the right system to fit your needs.