High-Density Storage Systems: Should You Buy One? (Problems & Solutions)

Furniture Productivity

Even as we strive to reduce paper use, there are some documents that we must hang on to, and that requires storage. But what happens when the paper keeps piling up and you run out of storage space?

Get a bigger office? Storing documents offsite?  Both are valid options, but they’re also costly and inconvenient.

A better alternative is to maximize your storage capacity with a high-density storage system. These systems are designed to pack more storage into a smaller area, taking up only half the space that traditional static shelving does. However, high-density storage solutions are not for everyone, and there are a few significant issues that you should consider before deciding if it’s right for your office.

#1. High Upfront Costs

While high-density storage can save you money over time, the upfront costs can be considerable, especially if the floor needs to be reinforced to meet weight requirements.

A high purchase price is one of the primary reasons people shy away from high-density storage.

That being said, it’s essential to factor in the money you’ll save by reducing or eliminating the need for offsite storage, or the expense you’ll avoid by not having to move to a larger office.  Once you have compared these two figures you will be able to better determine your return on investment for a high-density storage system.


One way to reduce your upfront investment cost is by choosing less expensive control options. For instance, manual mobile shelving systems are more cost-effective than mechanical-assist or powered controls. Although, with manual systems, you have to use your own strength by pulling a handle to move the shelving from side to side.

Mechanical-assist options have rotating handles that do most of the work for you, and a fully powered system moves the shelving automatically when you push a button.

#2. Installation Issues

Another thing to consider before choosing a high-density storage system is its weight and what’s required to install it in your space. These shelving systems are mounted on mobile carriages that roll on fixed tracks on the floor, and they’re meant to store a lot in a compact space.

This concentrates the weight in one area, which could cause problems in some buildings because the shelving system is heavier than the floor can bear. It’s important to consult with a structural engineer about your building’s floor load capacity before purchasing any high-density storage solution.


Depending on the floor your office is on and the age of the building, it might be necessary to have the floor structure reinforced, which can be costly and time-consuming. However, there are many high-density storage products on the market today that offer different ways to distribute the weight load, including the use of special railing systems.

#3. Inefficient Access

High-density storage reduces the amount of space your document storage takes up. Traditional storage systems are made up of static shelves and cabinets that take up a lot of space because they need room between the aisles for access.

High-density storage systems are mobile, so the shelves move, which means you only need one aisle.  Some mobile shelving moves side to side with a bank of shelves against a wall, and other types open into a walkway. Either way, you merely open the section you need when you want to access files.

The downside of that is, people can only work in one section at a time, which can require coordination if multiple people are trying to access files simultaneously.


A sound filing system and a bit of planning can go a long way to ensure employees have access to what they need quickly and efficiently. Only being able to access one aisle at a time can be an inconvenience if multiple people use your storage system, but we so rarely hear customers voice this complaint that it is practically a non-issue.

#4. Safety Hazards

Mobile shelving units can pose safety hazards when proper precautions aren’t in place. For instance, if the shelves are moved when someone is in the aisle, they can be seriously hurt. Powered high-density mobile shelving is especially dangerous because it is activated with the push of a button. For that reason, all powered systems require standard safety features.


Modern systems come with a variety of safety options. These can include sensors or infrared beams that detect objects in the aisle and automatically stop the shelving unit from moving until they’re removed, and the path is clear.

Besides, since they weigh so much, it’s important to look for high-density storage systems that are equipped with anti-tip devices that give them more stability.

Should You Buy a High-Density Storage System?

As you can see, along with the benefits of a high-density storage system, there are some significant issues to consider before you buy one for your office.  We find that they work best in an office environment that needs to either a large volume of unusually shaped items (ex. hotels storing bedding) or and office that does not want to convert their paper storage to a digital document management system.

If either of those categories applies to you, a high-density storage system might be able to save you a ton of storage space (and money)!

Wondering how you might be able to receive your high-density storage system once essential order? Check out our article on how long it takes to order office furniture!

Cory Porteous
Director of Marketing & Inbound Business Development
Office Interiors

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