Shelving Systems: UDL – What Does It Mean And Why Is It So Important?

On the face of it choosing shelving systems should be easy.

Well, you’d think so, wouldn’t you?

After all, all that’s required is for a business or warehouse to work out where and what it wants to store, calculate the quantity of materials it needs to accommodate, and then go out and purchase the most appropriate shelving system – job done. Well sadly it’s not that simple: nothing ever is unfortunately.

That business will also have to consider the weight of the items it wants to store, and calculate whether the shelving systems will be strong enough to take the load; it will also have to carefully consider the spread of the load, and ensure that the weight will be evenly distributed across the shelving span in order to avoid areas of concentrated weight.

Why do businesses have to consider these matters so carefully? Well because in any storage area where shelving is used, safety is, and has to be, the number one priority. It’s vital for the health and safety of employees, and it is also extremely important if the precious goods are to be looked after and stored properly. If goods are damaged they will be expensive to replace: if employees are injured as a result of fault or suspected negligence, then the insurance policy may not cover any losses. Therefore it’s crucial that any business which is considering installing any type of storage shelving system must first calculate the weight of the items to be stored, and then take steps to ensure that this weight will be distributed evenly.

So what is a uniform distributed load (UDL)?

A uniform distributed load, or UDL, is a phrase commonly used by shelving suppliers to help explain how much weight can be safely stored on each shelf section. A UDL dictates that products should be stored evenly with no single point handling excessively more load than the remainder of the shelf.

Why is it important to calculate the UDL?

A UDL value is essential as the weight capacity of any shelf is reduced if loaded unevenly. If the load is spread evenly and correctly across the whole width of the shelf this greatly reduces the stress placed on any structural beams and uprights. A UDL allows the maximum load to be safely applied.

When businesses see a UDL value stated on any pallet racking or shelving product description they should use this information to calculate whether the specific product is appropriate for their storage requirements. If the items to be stored come close to the maximum UDL level, then it is recommended that the business upgrades its chosen shelving or racking product to one with a higher capacity to reduce the possibility of overloading.

Our experienced team at Monarch Shelving can help you calculate UDL requirements and choose the correct shelving or racking for your business. Please contact us on 01706 880355 or 01706 880462 or email us at

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Monarch Shelving Ltd
Unit F,Daltry Street, Oldham, Lancashire, United KingdomOL1 4AB
Tel: 0161 627 3444 or 0161 622 0022 | Fax: 01706 880520