Options to increase space in the warehouse

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Running out of warehouse space? There are a number of options: you could move to a larger site or build an additional warehouse. But these are relatively expensive options and the smart solution might well be to install a mezzanine floor or an oversailing floor – a shelving system at ground level supporting a mezzanine floor to use the headroom in the building.

These are relatively low cost and flexible options. Of course, certain applications work best with these systems.

The technology division of a Milton Keynes-based logistics company decided to close a 200,000 sq ft warehouse, from which it had been running a software supplier contract and relocate this part of the business to another existing technology distribution facility in the same town. To accommodate the increased business, this facility needed to increase its capacity substantially.

It became clear that a mezzanine floor within the facility would provide the capacity required, would be cost-effective to install, would improve the productivity of the site and, importantly, the upgraded facilities could be brought on-stream very quickly.

The challenge was to accomplish both the installation of the new mezzanine and the relocation of the warehouse stock to the new facility without disrupting the existing warehouse operation or the service levels agreed under the software company’s contract.

The contract went to Teccon which provides design and installation of mezzanine floors, racking & shelving systems and office partitioning as well as various storage systems and a host of industrial products.

It decided to install a two-tier mezzanine to allow for further expansion in the future. This would provide an additional 37,000 sq ft of floor area with a loading rating of 5 kN per sq m allowing for storage and light industrial use. The floors had to incorporate seven staircases and six pallet gates together with full safety protection systems. Before the final specification could be agreed, the concrete floor needed to be tested for strength and suitability and then detailed plans would be needed for Building Regulations approval. In addition to the mezzanine, the main contractor was to be responsible for the efficient installation of all other services including ducting, fresh air, all electrics, fabrication of offices and a Board Room, 560 bays of shelving and fire protection including a sprinkler system.

The timescale was very tight for a project of this complexity but it was driven by the need to close the existing warehouse facility by the end of July 2007 at the latest.

By the time the selection process had been completed and the necessary guarantees and warranties put in place for the landlord, the maximum site time available before the deadline was just 16 weeks. In addition to the original project requirements, tests on the concrete floor revealed the need to strengthen it to take the weight of the double floor mezzanine concentrated on columns spaced at six metre intervals. This meant that 16m piles beneath each column were needed to take the weight of the mezzanine and all this additional work had to be completed within the 16 week period.

Teccon took responsibility for producing detailed plans for the mezzanine and all associated services and then handled all Building Regulations applications and approvals. An implementation schedule was put in place that took account of the technical and manufacturing requirements for the installation as well as the operational requirements at the distribution centre.

As soon as the piling was completed at one end of the site, mezzanine floor installation teams started the build process working with teams of specialists installing all the other services.

The project from initial order to completion was delivered in just under 16 weeks. The logistics company has been able to relocate its software contract business without any negative impact on service levels. The logistics company project manager says: “Without the direct lines of communication at all levels from the top down and the willingness to find solutions as issues arose or changes to specifications were needed, this project simply couldn’t have been delivered on time.”

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