cantilever vs longspan

If you’re a warehouse or business manager and are interested in optimising your storage solutions, you’re in the right place. First, we’ll compare the three most common warehouse storage solutions: longspan shelving, pallet racking and cantilever racking. We’ve broken down their advantages and disadvantages and have three tips for choosing the best warehouse storage solution — or if you’re looking for storage for your:

  • Hardware store
  • Shipping containers
  • Distribution centre
  • Manufacturing facilities
  • Mechanical workshops
  • Storage warehouse
  • Mezzanine floor

Okay; let’s look at the three most common types of industrial shelving: 

Longspan shelving is a type of warehouse shelf that is designed for storing cartons and small items for picking by hand.

longspan shelving


Pallet racking, such as APEX Selective Pallet Racking, is a system designed to store palletised goods, typical in distribution centres or manufacturing.

Pallet racking


Cantilever racking has no cross-bars and is best suited for industrial environments as they are specifically designed to store long and bulky items such as board, sheet metal or structural members etc.

cantilever racking


What is Longspan Shelving best for?

Longspan shelving consists of uprights (frames), beams, and shelves that can be adjusted to fit the size and shape of the stored items.

The advantages of longspan shelving include:

  • Versatility: Longspan shelving can store various products, from small parts to large, bulky cartons or items.
  • Customisation: Longspan shelving is easily configured to fit the size and shape of the stored items.
  • Accessibility: Longspan shelving allows easy access to all products being stored.

However, there are also potential drawbacks to using longspan shelving:

  • Space limitations: Longspan shelving over 3m tall must be anchored to the ground with appropriate floor anchors. With anything shorter, anchors are recommended but not a requirement. Even still, in most cases vertical space to the roof isn’t as well utilised as pallet racking.
  • Weight limitations: Longspan shelving is generally rated for 150-450 kg per shelf, depending on the length and depth chosen — so not suitable for extremely heavy items.


When to use cantilever racking?

Cantilever racking consists of a series of arms that are attached to vertical columns. The height of the arms are adjustable, allowing you to store items of varying lengths and sizes.

The advantages of cantilever shelving include:

  • Versatility: Cantilever shelving is best for storing very long items such as carpet rolls, timber, pipe, lengths of MDF, and even furniture.
  • Easy access: With no vertical supports between the arms, loading and unloading with a forklift isn’t obstructed by solid shelves above. 
  • Space utilisation: Extend your cantilever shelving to as long as your warehouse or yard, and store vertically for more floor space.

However, there are also potential drawbacks to using cantilever shelving:

  • Regular inspections: Unreported damage may diminish the structural integrity or cantilever deflection, which increases the risk of stock collapse or serious injury.
  • Corrosion: You’ll need to opt for hot dipped galvanised (HDG) finish for outdoor storage to avoid water penetration and rust.
  • Installation:  It is the responsibility of the customer to ensure cantilever installation is done in accordance with FEM 10.2.09. We recommend liaising with a qualified installer, and can put you in touch with an experienced professional to manage the install..


Can Pallet Racking be a better option?

A pallet racking system can be configured to store goods on various pallet sizes, including Australian Standard (1165mm x 1165mm, in various weight ratings), Export Standard (1100mm x 1100mm), and Euro Pallets (1200mm x 800mm x 144mm).

The advantages of pallet racking include:

  • Space efficiency: Pallet racking maximises vertical space, making it ideal for warehouses with limited floor space.
  • Weight capacity: Pallet racking supports heavy loads, in most cases beyond 1,000kg per level, making it suitable for storing large quantities of heavy goods.

However, there are also potential drawbacks to using pallet racking:

  • Limited accessibility: Safely reaching upper stock levels requires a forklift and for staff with an operating licence to be available to access it — often impeding product collection times
  • Fixed hardware: Pallet racking must be affixed with floor anchors to meet workplace health and safety requirements. Installation typically costs more and reconfiguration can be a mammoth undertaking.


How to choose the best longspan system for your warehouse?

When choosing a longspan system for your warehouse, there are several factors to consider. Height and depth is a big consideration, as longspan shelving can be purchased in 900mm, 1000mm, 2400mm, 3000mm and 4000mm — with 3600mm available in Melbourne only. 

Shelves are another consideration. At Global Industrial, you’ll find options for mesh decks, galvanised panels or particle board available in 460mm, 600mm and 900mm depths. The 1200mm deep longspan shelving is only compatible with particle board.

Global Industrial longspan shelving is very easy to assemble and set up. In most cases the frames are pre-assembled for your convenience. Posts are punched with a 50mm pitch allowing for a shelf level to be moved if required. 


How to choose the best Cantilever Shelving?

Your storage layout will play a role in determining the best cantilever shelving system for your needs. 

Inside or outside: Our standard blue and orange finish makes the arms stand out visibly as a safety feature for indoor storage. However for outdoors, the hot-dipped galvanised (HDG) finish would be a better option.

Ceiling height: Taller ceilings may allow for taller cantilever shelving systems, which can help maximise storage space.

Aisles: If you plan to use forklifts or other equipment to move products within your warehouse, make sure to choose a cantilever shelving system that allows for adequate aisle space.

Obstructions: Take into account any obstructions such as columns or irregularly shaped spaces that may affect the layout of your cantilever shelving system.


Product Storage Suitability:
Longspan Shelving vs Cantilever Racking


Best for Longspan

Best for Cantilever

  • Smaller pick-pack items
  • Electronics, TVs, printers
  • Automotive, machinery parts
  • Cartons of all shapes and sizes
  • Office supplies
  • Raw materials
  • Tools and equipment
  • Copper pipes, plastic, conduit
  • Lumber and timber
  • Steel bars
  • Carpet rolls
  • Furniture (e.g. sofas, tables)
  • Industrial equipment 
  • Building materials 


Which is the right warehouse storage solution?

Choosing the right storage solution for your warehouse is an important decision that can have a significant impact on your operations. You’ll need to consider the size and weight of your products, the amount of floor space you have available, and the level of accessibility you require.


If you have any questions or would like more information on warehouse storage solutions, please contact Global Industrial today.