Material Handling Experts

888-877-3861

Information on the products and techniques to better store, handle, and move products in your facility.

Sheet Metal Storage Alternatives: What Works Best

sheet metal in a production facility

Above: how difficult is it access these sheets?

Sheet metal is one of the most difficult handling challenges out there. It’s simultaneously bulky, heavy, somewhat flexible, and prone to damage if handled incorrectly. It often has sharp edges and corners, making it dangerous to manually move and turn. At higher gauges or in bundles, it requires forklifts, cranes or scissor lifts for safe and effective handling. Even a thin sheet, if it’s 4 x 8, can be too much for a single worker to handle.

Yet, sheet metal is commonly used in manufacturing and fabrication, so finding better storage and handling methods is key. What can you do to handle it better?

Sheet Metal Handling Alternatives:

Vertical sheet racks are good for cart access. They are often manually loaded and unloaded, and are easy to set up in a work area. Once emptied they are easy to move to various places as needed.

Horizontal racks offer reasonably good access to hoists or cranes, but only after sheets have been slid out of the rack body. This typically requires at least two people, depending on the weight of the sheet. Capacity is 2,000 pounds or less.

roll out sheet metal rackRoll-out metal sheet racks make sheet metal much easier to handle with cranes, hoists, and forklifts and can handle very heavy loads in a tight space. Standard capacities of 5,000 pounds per shelf can be expanded to 10,000 pounds in certain sizes and configurations.

Roll-out shelving for metal sheets is similar, but for lighter weight metal (capacity of 1,500 pounds). They still allow easier crane and forklift access.

Cantilever racks and standard storage racking are sometimes used as well. Cantilever can offer good access, but typically the weight and dimensions of sheet metal don’t store well on anything but very long, heavyweight columns and arms. Floor storage is also an option, but can cause issues with space utilization and safety.

There are other ways. You can stack it on the floor, which is probably the worst possible method since this makes the sheets harder to reach and manipulate. You can put it on traditional pallet racks, but that’s usually for bulk storage, not production level storage, since it requires a forklift or possibly a stacker to access. Ultimately, you have to store it in a way that best matches your application and standards.

Tags: , ,


Scott Stone Cisco-Eagle's Director of Marketing. He has over 25 years of experience in the industry.

  • Mezmerized

    No matter what method, safety has to be the primary concern. I find that vertical stacking works the best in my fabricating process. Since I deal with steel, stainless steel and aluminum sheets, an overhead crane and dog clam lifting device suits my purpose well. Individual sheets can be separated by one person much more easily than by horizontal stacking. Vacuum lifting devices could work, but I feel much more comfortable with a good mechanical grip on the material.
    Where you may save some floor space through storing horizontally on a racking system, you will need lift truck access for storing and retrieving. So, it’s a consideration of safety and functionality to suit your process that will determine your storage method.