Mezzanine floors are a smart option for businesses looking to expand or consolidate their existing warehouse operations, but who wish to avoid undertaking the laborious, costly process of extending their existing premises or undertaking a wholesale move to a new warehouse.
Growing your space can be expensive, but installing a mezzanine floor is more affordable than extending or moving premises. Vital extra square footage can be added to your existing facilities with a mezzanine floor that is specifically designed to meet the needs of your business.
A range of structures is possible, from a single tier ground plus one mezzanine to multi-tiered ground plus two, three or four level structures.
These multi-level mezzanines can incorporate features including through-floor conveyers, integrated lifts and suspended ceilings, offering a truly versatile option for businesses looking to maximise their resources and budget.
If you are looking to simply add extra storage space, or you require more offices or operational areas, a good mezzanine floor supplier can provide you with a solution to meet your business needs, undertaking everything from planning and installation to aftercare.
When it comes to feasibility and practicalities, almost any warehouse with can be fitted with a mezzanine floor.
Being typically removable and contained within an existing building, it is only in rare circumstances that planning permission is necessary.
A well-planned, mezzanine floor installed to your specific requirements offers you crucial extra space that complements your ongoing operations – whatever your business.
With all the advantages that adding a mezzanine floor offers, we’ll now take a more detailed look at the various stages involved in sourcing and installing your new floor.
1. Initial briefing and intended usage
The first stage involves you and your mezzanine floor provider coming to a mutual understanding of your business’s requirements, the reasons for needing the extra space – and the advantages that adding a mezzanine floor can offer you.
What will the mezzanine be used for? Will it be for offices, open storage, or a combination of various purposes? If you’re looking for extra storage, your provider can ensure it will be equipped with adequate racking and shelving.
A mutually agreed brief that documents the requirements for your warehouse’s new mezzanine floor is vital in helping your supplier in determining appropriate floor strengths, materials and number of support columns as well as planning access to the floor.
2. The site and structural survey
Once briefed, your mezzanine floor provider will normally follow up by coming to your facility and formally surveying its existing layout. Key components at this stage include agreement on the proposed siting of the mezzanine support columns and where the access points will be located.
Whilst visiting your premises, your mezzanine floor provider will also ensure that exact measurements are taken so that CAD drawings can be produced, loading calculations can be made and beams, joists and decking specifications can be developed.
3. Costed specification and proposal
With your requirements and the warehouse’s structural details understood, it is usually possible to produce a costed specification and proposal for client approval. The mezzanine floor specification will include everything from the floor dimensions to the types of columns to the beams, joists and decking – which would normally be high density chipboard, open grid or solid steel.
Access specifications would also be included such as the location of any staircases, lifts and conveyors. In larger warehouses, two mezzanine floors may be installed at opposite ends with connecting bridges, walkways or conveyor systems.
4. Designing the mezzanine floor layout
Once the necessary measurements have been taken, an exact plan of the new mezzanine floor can be designed. Your provider’s plan should reflect the planned usage for your mezzanine floor as well as including the siting of staircase openings, lifts and conveyors (which are determined by the existing layout of the existing warehouse floor).
As with all high level, open-sided mezzanine floors, health and safety is a vital issue that your provider will factor in at the design stage in order to secure building regulations approval. Safety features such as handrails, gates and barriers around all the open sides will all be included in the designing process.
5. Securing building regulations approval
Most good mezzanine floor providers will not only design and specify the new solution; they will also submit the plan in an acceptable format to the relevant local authorities for approval.
The provider’s plan will show structural calculations and layouts, as well as the health and safety features included in the design stage to satisfy the Building Regulations department.
The local fire officer will also need to give approval to the submitted plans. Fire safety measures required to satisfy fire officers typically include the use of fire retardant materials, fire detection measures and emergency lighting as well as standardised fire procedures, exits and appropriate signage.
6. Scheduling and project plan
Your mezzanine floor provider will have an outline project plan in place so that on receipt of approvals from the local building regulations and fire officer authorities, work can begin without unnecessary delays.
They will also develop a milestone plan that demonstrates the main timings and deliverables, and with your input, will agree upon a schedule to minimise disruption to your normal business and operational activities.
7. Installation and acceptance
Once installation commences, your mezzanine floor provider will work to the schedule agreed with you at the planning stage. The installation process can take from a few days to a few weeks, depending on the size and complexity of the mezzanine floor project.
Interim inspections from building regulations inspectors may be required at certain key points during the installation, and in all cases a final inspection will be needed to confirm that the mezzanine floor has been constructed and installed as per the originally submitted design plans and structural calculations.
Courtesy of Kevin Fouhy, Managing Director, Acorn Warehouse Solutions