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Office Storage Options: Lateral and Suspension Filing

Working out how to store the stuff in your office is very difficult. You have stationery, box files, hanging files, magazines, electronic items brochures and reference catalogues, and you want to hide them all away and keep your office tidy. The first and most difficult area is your hanging files. To avoid any confusion there are two type of hanging file, lateral and suspension
A lateral file hangs from a fixed set of rails within the storage unit, and your papers or folder is placed into the fixed hanging file from the front. The hanging file label usually runs vertically along the front edge of the hanging file. When purchasing these files you need to be careful about the distance between hanging centres as manufacturers do not always adhere to the standard dimensions.
As the filing in this system is done through the front of the lateral hanging file, the length of the file is relatively unimportant as the internal dimension of the storage unit is usually the only limiting factor. This means that A4, Foolscap or even folio folders can be comfortable stored within a lateral filing system. Another advantage with a lateral filing system is that there are no moving parts to worry about, and the rails are much simpler than a pull out drawer system, which also makes them much cheaper.

A suspension file hangs down from a rectangular cradle, and your papers or folder is filed from the top into the hanging suspension file. To make best use of a storage unit, these cradles are usually fixed on to telescopic drawer mechanisms to allow the file to be pulled clear of the storage unit for access. The cradles are most usually set to accept either A4 or Foolscap suspension files, although some filing cradles have an adjustable front rail to allow for different sizes of suspension file. Because the suspension files hand down from the two parallel top rails the papers of folder cannot be wider than the distance between the two top rails as they have to pass through this gap( This is not a problem with lateral filing as the papers are filed into the hanging file, parallel to the hanging rails. A standard A4 or Foolscap suspension filing cradle is designed to take the relevant hanging files with the file labels parallel to the shorter edges of the suspension cradle. There are A4 and Foolscap hanging rails which bridge the gap between the longest edges of the suspension cradle, and allow you to hang your files so that the labels are parallel with the longer edges of the suspension cradle. In most cases you will be able to use two of these bridging rails to allow for two rows of suspension files, all with labels parallel to the longest edges of the frame, but the dimensions should be checked. These bridging rails, because of their adjustability, means that items of any size can be filed.

Both lateral and suspension files are available in a variety of base widths to accommodate different amounts of filing per individual hanging file. The most common is the simple V based file which is used for a few paper or one standard record file. The base then increases in width to 15, 30 and then 50mm for storage of larger files and brochures. Even larger sizes are available, but these are not easily available from local stationers and would have to be ordered specially.

There are advantages to either type of system, but in the main if you were looking to start with a new system, the lateral filing system would be the preferred. It is cheaper, as there are no moving parts and some storage units even have the lateral rails already fixed to the underside of the shelves. It is also more efficient as the full width of the storage unit can be used, as there are no telescopic runners to accommodate.
Also because the items to be files are placed into the hanging folder from the front, the whole height of the storage unit can be used, right up to 2 metres. This is not possible with pull out filing frames, as it is difficult to remove the files when there are more that 3 pullout filing frames in a cabinet, and there is a danger of the cabinet toppling forward from the lever effect of a heavy filing cradle being opened at a reasonable height from the floor. This is why anti-tilt mechanisms are essential when more than 2 pull out filing frames are used in a storage unit.

The problem occurs for instance when a company already has hundred of suspension files and need to move them to new units. The advantages of changing to Lateral filing has to be weighed against the cost of change all of the files and re writing all of the labels