Look Up, Not Out
By Dave Milner, Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Wildeck
Extensive construction projects and facility relocation plans often seem like the only solutions available for warehouses and distribution centers that have outgrown their current facility. While both options provide the required additional space, they do so at great cost and inconvenience. In the quest for additional square footage, many companies fail to capitalize upon the solution they already possess: the space above their facility’s ground floor.
An industrial mezzanine is an elevated platform within a building that can be used for storage, manufacturing, office space or as an observation platform. Typically constructed with heavy-duty steel, these free-standing structures can safely support tremendous loads. Designed around a building’s existing blueprint, the mezzanine’s nut-and-bolt construction provides for easy expansion and relocation (if needed). Depending upon the facility’s ceiling height, mezzanines can be single or multi-tiered, effectively adding a second or third level to an existing building.
In addition to providing facilities with needed space, end-users benefit from their mezzanine investment in a multitude of ways. Some of these benefits include:
- Money – When compared with the cost of a building expansion or facility relocation, an industrial mezzanine work platform offers a competitively priced alternative. Designed and constructed around the buildings existing footprint, an industrial mezzanine makes use of the utilities (HVAC, water, electric, etc.) already present in the building, eliminating the need for pricey renovations. Additionally, depending upon its intended use, a well-constructed mezzanine requires minimal to no maintenance. All these factors equate to cost savings for the company.
- Time – Construction projects and facility moves (full or partial) require substantial investments of time. A company’s precious man-hours are unnecessarily wasted sourcing architects, coordinating moving trucks and relocating heavy equipment when these two “solutions” are pursued. While the mezzanine’s specifications will dictate the amount of installation time needed, most can be erected in a matter of weeks with minimal disruption to a facility’s operations. In an environment where time equals money, an industrial mezzanine helps save both.
- Safety – Warehouse and distribution center accidents are more likely to occur in areas of a facility that have become overcrowded with people and equipment. With the additional square footage that an industrial mezzanine affords, work stations and traffic flows can be separated and more evenly distributed throughout the facility. Equipped with an adequate amount of space, employees can perform their job functions in a safer manner. Unencumbered by obstacles, work can be accomplished more efficiently.
- Automation – Industrial mezzanines are the ideal solution for warehouses and distribution centers interested in starting or expanding their automation capabilities. Materials are safely and quickly moved through the facility through the integration of conveyors, lifts and chutes with the mezzanine. With the automation process safely contained overhead, ground-level space can be used for storing and quickly dispatching packaged products.
Money, time, safety and automation are just a few of the benefits that a company can expect from their industrial mezzanine investment. However, before making an appointment with a material handling specialist, there are several preparatory steps that, if taken, will ensure a more successful buying experience.
- Determine mezzanine use – The first step in buying an industrial mezzanine is determining how the structure will be used (both now and in the future). Decisions made at this junction will determine if the platform can be easily adapted as need arises. Specifically, potential mezzanine customers will want to decide if their platform will be used for material storage, work stations, automation or a combination of these activities. The mezzanine’s intended use will play an integral role in determining where the structure is ultimately located within a facility.
When deciding how the mezzanine will be used, it is important for potential customers to contemplate who will have access to the structure. Safety features that only grant access to authorized personnel can easily be incorporated into the platform’s initial design. Careful consideration during this phase will increase overall customer satisfaction as time goes on.
- Know what is required – In preparing for a purchase, customers frequently benefit from educating themselves about what is required prior to the mezzanine’s installation. For instance, the typical floor in a warehouse or distribution center is made of six-inches of concrete and has a capacity of 25,000 pounds. A slab and soil analysis may be necessary to determine if the existing floor can support the intended mezzanine design or if special footings will need to be added. Knowing this information in advance will save time as the project moves forward.
Additionally, having a firm grasp on the applicable codes and regulations of the geographic area will facilitate a better understanding of the necessity for specific design elements. For example, facilities located in the western United States (CA, OR, WA, UT and NV) could be potentially affected by seismic activity. Those customers will need to incorporate additional design requirements to satisfy applicable regulations. Customer education is a great way to preempt unwanted surprises.
- Research solution providers – While researching potential solution providers is the last item on the preparatory checklist, it is the most crucial step for ensuring a successful experience. When selecting a mezzanine provider, it is imperative that potential customers evaluate the company’s experience, engineering acumen and manufacturing capabilities. Ultimately, the selected provider will be responsible for: working with the customer to determine mezzanine use; designing the mezzanine in compliance with applicable code; manufacturing parts and materials for easy assembly; and coordinating/overseeing the structure’s installation. Potential customers will also want to make sure that the selected provider offers products and equipment (i.e. ladders, safety gates, lifts) that easily integrate with the structure. A one-stop-shop experience ensures that all components work together seamlessly.
Experienced and trusted mezzanine manufacturers will patiently take the time to answer all questions and will be quick to provide evidence of their product’s superiority. Since a mezzanine is a long-term investment, customers should never feel pressured into making a quick decision. Take time to ask questions and do not commit to a purchase without feeling confident in the decision.
An industrial mezzanine is a cost-effective, time-saving solution for facilities pressed for space, especially when compared with alternative options. Warehouses and distribution centers of all sizes can increase their production potential and sustain their long-term growth goals with these heavy-duty structures. If your facility is currently in need of more space, skip the stress and the hassle of a move or renovation. Look up, not out to find your space.
Dave Milner is Wildeck’s vice president of sales and marketing. In this role, Milner is responsible for directing all sales and marketing strategies, overseeing the growth of Wildeck’s distribution network and expanding the company’s reach within the material handling marketplace. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.