Mezzanine Floors

05 May Warehouse Shelving Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

WAREHOUSE SHELVING FAQs

We have compiled below some of the frequently asked questions by our prospective customers on warehouse shelving systems. If your question isn’t answered below, please get in touch….here.

Why should we purchase our shelving with WSL?

WSL can provide a fully bespoke service; designing shelving systems that are ideal for your circumstances and needs, as well as being cost effective and efficient. Qualified designers will work together with you to plan the layout that works best for you. We are not tied to one particular manufacturer, so can cater the design entirely around our clients requirements. All shelving is installed by qualified and trained fitters. We work to ensure complete client satisfaction.

Does shelving need a load notice?

Yes, all shelving should have a load notice, to avoid risk of collapse due to overloading and to ensure the safety of personnel.

How high can shelving go?

Shelving can go very high, but you will need to assess how the shelving is intended to be accessed. If the shelving is all being accessed from the ground, the top shelf should not be more than 1.8 metres high. There is the option to access the shelving by steps or scissor lifts, in which case it could be built many metres high, with portal ties between shelves securing them. However, in this case it may be more efficient to have a number of floors, turning them into multi-tier storage. Contact WSL today to discuss your requirements.

How wide can shelving be?

The width of your shelving depends on the load as well as on the height of your system. If can often be more cost effective to use shorter beams and more posts, unless there is a need to store something very long.

How deep can shelving be?

The depth of your shelving will be dependent on what you are accessing and how it will be accessed. Long items can be catered for with deeper shelving but trying to place smaller items on deeper racks presents a few issues.

For instance: When working from steps it is harder and poses a greater risk to reach into a shelving bay, meaning that all products should be able to be accessed with minimal reach. When working from a flat surface, such as on ground level or on a scissor lift, this is less of an issue. How far you are allowed to reach is mainly determined by the Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992.

If you intend to access stock by walking into or bending into a bay at ground level then the clear height from the ground to the underside of the first beam should be no less than 2,000mm.

What weight can shelving take?

Shelving can be engineered to take almost any weight, as budget will allow. Shelving required to take extremely heavy loads will be more expensive to build, and may also require reinforcements of the floor below the shelves. The operators will also need to take manual handling issues into account, and if Material Handling Equipment will be required, other safety considerations will need to be taken into account. Contact WSL today for more information.

Can I turn existing shelving into multi-tier shelving?

This will depend on the design, whether you have approval stating the load that it can take and whether it is CE marked as a system. If it is not CE marked you cannot put in a walkway supported by the shelving. However, there may be other alternatives such as putting in a self-supporting structure; effectively creating a small mezzanine in the aisle alongside the shelving.

Is it safe to use a ladder to access shelving?

Generally, it is safe to use a stepladder with a rail to access shelving, but not a ladder that leans against the shelves. However, you will need to consider how bulky the items on the shelving are, and whether it is safe and feasible for personnel to carry items up and down. The HSE recommends that only easily gripped items below 10kgs in weight should be carried on a stepladder.

Can you help us design an optimum layout?

Yes, we have qualified designers who are experienced at planning room and warehouse layouts in order to make the most of any given space.

Can I build my own shelving?

In most cases, building your own layout is perfectly legal, as long as you adhere to all relevant regulation. This is particularly possible if you are following the designs of a manufacturer and have trained and experienced staff. However, for the security of your structure and the safety of your personnel we recommend using approved installation specialists, who will also ensure the shelving is fully inspected after installation.

What is your turn around time for shelving manufacture?

Shelving construction can take anything from 3-5 weeks, depending on size of shelving. For small sets of shelving the turnaround could be as little as five working days.

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15 Mar Mezzanine Floor Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

MEZZANINE FLOOR FAQs

We have compiled below some of the frequently asked questions by our prospective customers on mezzanine floors. If your question isn’t answered below, please get in touch….here.

Why should we build our mezzanine floor with WSL?

WSL provides a complete package, from the planning of a mezzanine floor, through the design process, to every aspect of the building work; including providing access and electrics. We have knowledge and experience of all applicable regulations, so our clients can be confident that all work is completely safe and built in line with current policy. WSL are the only company in the UK that has the CE mark for the production of mezzanine floors, over all stages of the process; all the way from qualified sales personnel, design, project managers, production department and the installation process. We understand the importance of keeping warehouse down time to a minimum and have excellent lead times, so many clients find that the construction is far less disruptive than they had anticipated. We also have site foremen onsite daily to ensure that all operations are running smoothly.

How much weight can a mezzanine floor take?

Mezzanine floors can be engineered to take any weight that is required. For the purposes of designing and manufacturing mezzanine floors, weight is measured in Kilonewtons (kN); a measure of gravitational field strength. Generally, for office mezzanines, designers would be planning for a loading of 3.5 kN. For a mezzanine floor storing 500kg pallets it would be a 5 kN loading, and for a floor storing 800kg pallets the loading would be 7.2kN.
Past this point, the issue becomes the floor that the mezzanine is being built on. In most cases there will be a piling cap required; parts of the floor will need to be taken up as far as the bed rock and filled with concrete to form an exceptionally strong foundation.

How high can it go?

The height of the mezzanine will depend on the amount of weight that it needs to hold. There is little limit to the height if the budget and building height allows. Designers will need to take into account regulations such as fire and safety – a higher mezzanine will require more staircases and greater fire protection for example. A higher mezzanine may also require more steel work, and reinforcement of the floor below with piling caps.

Do I need planning permission for a mezzanine?

Planning permission is not usually required, as a mezzanine is built inside an existing building and because a mezzanine floor is defined as a temporary structure. However, Building Regulations will need to be consulted as well as the local fire officer who will want to see evidence of a design facilitating easy escape routes.

What kind of regulations concern mezzanine floors?

A mezzanine floor will need to be in line with building regulations and fire regulations. It will also need to be constructed in line with the CE certified production process that is certified for BSEN 1090. Each item, across every production needs to be CE certified. WSL have experience of designing with all of these regulations in mind and has the CE mark for the production of mezzanine floors.

Do I need to alter my fire safety plan for a mezzanine floor?

Yes, you will need to alter the safety plan with details of the route that any personnel working on the floor will need to take to get to the nearest exit.

Can I run a forklift on a mezzanine?

A forklift can be run on a mezzanine floor, but at a greater expense than a floor designed for product to be handled by personnel on foot. The issue is that the weight of a heavy forklift is carried on only three or four wheels (as opposed to heavy pallets, where the weight is distributed across a wide area). Standard Mezzanine floors tend to be constructed with 38mm particle board, which is not strong enough to withstand the pressure of forklifts. Therefore the floor will have to be constructed of something with a much higher puncture load, such as concrete. This in turn may mean that the floor below also needs to be reinforced. Speak to WSL today for more information or to discuss your requirements.

Can mezzanine floors be constructed exclusively of wood?

Mezzanine floors cannot be made of flammable materials such as wood. They should be made out of steel, with a proven design.

When do I need Fire Rating?

Needing Fire rating is dependent on the location, size and use of your mezzanine floor, as well as use of and size of building. The use and environment of the floor also needs to be taken into account. Contact WSL today to discuss your situation.

How long does it take to build a Mezzanine floor?

The production of a mezzanine from WSL is generally about 4 weeks from the sign off of the design. However, in some cases, this can be quicker if required.

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Warehouse Mezzanine Floor

12 Feb Mezzanine Floor Safety – What You Need To Know About The Law

When designing a mezzanine floor, the top priority for you will be the safety of your personnel and any clients that need to access the floor. There are a number of aspects that will need to be planned in detail.

The safety regulations for your mezzanine will be dependent on numerous factors, including the size of the mezzanine floor, its use, and intended users. You will need expert help to clarify the exact specifications that you need to follow for your project, but it will include looking at issues such as;

Stability

The mezzanine level must comply with the regulations laid out in the building regulations document on structure. Complying with these laws ensures a solid structure, which can withhold the intended weight, and that will be stable even in adverse weather conditions and some types of ground movement. The regulations are complex and you should request qualified advice at the design stage. At WSL we have engineers and designers working together to ensure that all structural requirements are planned in at the earliest stages of design so that building regulations are met.

Materials

Building regulations stipulate that the materials used must be fit for purpose and that “the workmanship will provide the appropriate level of protection and performance. A reputable building firm should be able to provide evidence that all the materials it uses conforms to national and international standards.

Secure Railings

Building regulations on “Protection from Falling” state that you should; “Provide guarding… where it is reasonably necessary for safety to guard the edges of any part of a floor (including the edge below an opening window), gallery, balcony, roof… any other place to which people have access, and any light well, basement or similar sunken area next to a building.” Therefore all mezzanines require sufficient hand rails and toe boards to be provided at the edge of your mezzanine floors. These railings are also legislated in detail. Your designers will be able to advise you about the exact specifications required to keep people safe and ensure that the possibility of falling, sliding or tripping over the edge is removed.

Pallet Gates

In some cases, it will be necessary to access pallets from your mezzanine floor, but you will wish to continue to keep your workforce safe from the risk of falling from height. Pallet gates can be an ideal solution. They ensure that no personnel is required to stand by an open edge at any point in the loading or unloading of pallets from a crane or forklift, to the mezzanine floor.

Fire Safety

Fire safety is another complex area. Your architects and engineers will need to think about issues such as fire escapes, fire retardant materials, correct numbers of fire extinguishers, as well as, possibly, sprinkler systems.  Your designers should be able to advise you on the regulations you will need for your situation, taking into account particulars such as the type of building, the number of staff and the size of the mezzanine.

Access to and Use of Buildings

For large mezzanines, you will need to provide quality disabled access, as well as ensuring that all general access is sufficient. Widths of corridors are dictated according to the building size; as are the sizes of lifts, and the height of handrails for stair cases. Even the surface and colour of hand rails is dictated by building regulations!

Understanding the Legislation

Building regulations are a broad and complicated area of law, but complying with them is vital in ensuring that your new mezzanine floor is safe and secure. Take all the stress out of complying with the regulations by using designers and builders who understand the legislation and commit to following them to the letter.

When you design a mezzanine floor with WSL, we have qualified specialists who take responsibility for ensuring that all building, fire and other safety regulations are being met, while also keeping the requirements of your company a top priority.

This article is for general information only. It is not an exhaustive list of all safety requirements regarding mezzanine safety. We recommend that you consult a specialist to ensure that all requirements for mezzanine safety are being met.

Sources:

[1] HM Government (2013) The Building Regulations 2010: Structure, Approved Document Part A. 2013 edition [PDF] Available at http://www.planningportal.gov.uk/buildingregulations/approveddocuments/parta/documenta#Download [Accessed 14th December 2015].

[2] HM Government (2013) The Building Regulations 2010: Materials and Workmanship 7. 2013 edition [PDF] Available at http://www.planningportal.gov.uk/buildingregulations/approveddocuments/workandmaterials/approved [Accessed 14th December 2015]. Page 7.

[3] HM Government (2013) The Building Regulations 2010: Protection from Falling, Collision and Impact, Approved Document Part K. 2013 edition [PDF] Available at http://www.planningportal.gov.uk/buildingregulations/approveddocuments/partk/approved [Accessed 14th December 2015]. Page 23.

[4]  HM Government (2006) The Building Regulations 2010: Fire Safety, Approved Document K – Volume 2 – Buildings other than Dwelling Houses. 2006 edition [PDF] Available at http://www.planningportal.gov.uk/buildingregulations/approveddocuments/partb/bcapproveddocumentsb/bcapproveddocbvol2/[Accessed 14th December 2015].

[5] HM Government (2015) The Building Regulations 2010: Access to and Use of Buildings, Approved Document M – Volume 2 – Buildings other than Dwellings 2015 edition [PDF] Available at 2015].http://www.planningportal.gov.uk/buildingregulations/approveddocuments/partm/adm/admvol2#Download [Accessed 14th December 2015].

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Retail Mezzanine Floors

08 Feb Mezzanine Floors: Can they be Practical and Attractive?

Mezzanine floors within a storage facility can often be seen as simply a necessary additional floor space. It is a practical solution for a practical problem, and as such, its visual impact can be approached as irrelevant. A budget mezzanine can be created quickly and efficiently as a simple, secure metal structure, in keeping with the rest of its warehouse style surroundings. It is certainly true that the primary feature of a mezzanine must be a practical structure that meets your requirements; whether that be an office area, additional storage, or a larger work space. Engineers should ensure that access and layout conform with building regulations and health and safety requirements. On many occasions, companies are happy with a straightforward metal structure, with safety railings and fittings and facilities for its intended purpose; be that storage racking, filing cabinets, desks or lockers.

But what if you are looking for something more sophisticated? A mezzanine office, for meeting with clients and colleagues? Or a quiet area for staff breaks? Can a mezzanine floor within a busy storage or workshop environment be an attractive and relaxing area?

“Yes, absolutely!”

There are as many different mezzanine designs as there are individuals with ideas! At the design stage, your project manager should run through your options with you. There are lots of simple steps that can be taken to make your mezzanine more attractive, according to your chosen budget.

Walls and windows

Walls and windows can be added to a mezzanine level. Ceilings and walls of warehouse facilities can be insulated and plaster boarded to create a cosy, homely environment that can be decorated in keeping with the atmosphere you wish to create. Windows can be added to look out onto the work floor below, allowing managers or administrators to stay involved in the daily activities. These  can be soundproofed, to allow quiet work to take place. In other cases, clients may prefer the mezzanine to be more a “part of” the workshop environment and instead of walls, elegant glass or wood railings can be put in place, rather than usual metal barriers. With some engineering expertise, it can also be possible to create outside facing windows, or even skylights, allowing natural light into the space.

Decor

Decor is an important and yet very low budget way to affect the impact of your mezzanine floor. Choose a feature wallpaper for one wall to make a bold statement; you could even choose a wallpaper in keeping with your business identity! Or alternatively, choose a simple wall paint, and experiment with wall art. Choose a light paint colour to make spaces look larger and brighter. Psychologists suggest that colour can affect mood. Green is supposed to create a calming atmosphere, while yellow is believed to “stimulate the intellect”![1] The colours of your mezzanine can be a refreshing diversion from the practical storage space or workshop below.

Furnishings

Decoration and furnishings are another potentially inexpensive way to make your mezzanine instantly look more elegant. Carpets add an element of comfort, and soft furnishings can create a contrast with the busy workshop below. Your furniture can be chosen within a vast budget range, providing whatever level of luxury your resources allow. At this stage it is important to spend some time thinking about the layout of the furniture; do you want office workers compartmentalised with multiple cubicle desks, or able to interact with a more open plan area? What will the layout be for your conference room? Will there be a reception / waiting area, and how will it be positioned?

Lighting

You may want to consider natural lighting for your mezzanine floor, with windows or skylights. A report on Health, Wellbeing and Productivity in offices states that  “access to windows and daylight… bring consistent benefits in terms of satisfaction and health,” suggesting that access to windows reduces the amount of sick leave taken by an employee.[3] Where it is not possible to facilitate natural lighting, you could consider LED lighting that can mimic natural light.[3]

Access

It is possible to install a visually interesting access point to your mezzanine floor (Read more about our guide to choosing mezzanine floor access). A floating staircase or spiral staircase can be a bold feature, as well as a practical access point. Spiral staircases have the added benefit of taking up less space in the floor below. You will need to obtain expert advice on what access is required to fulfil health and safety legislations.

At WSL, we pride ourselves on designing safe, practical structures that meet our customers’ requirements. We work together with clients to ensure that access, height and layout take their specifications into account, while also ensuring that all building regulations and fire and Health and Safety legislation is met. We have expert designers on site, to create the perfect mezzanine floor solution for you!

Sources:

[1] BBC Homes (2014). Psychology of Colour. Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/homes/design/colour_psychologyofcolour.shtml [Accessed 14th December 2015].

[2] World Green Building Council. Health, Wellbeing and Productivity in Offices. [PDF] Available at: http://www.worldgbc.org/activities/health-wellbeing-productivity-offices/ [Accessed 14th December 2015]. Page 28.

[3] Fessenden, M. (2015). LED Skylights Perfectly Mimic Natural Sunlight. Smithsonian, [Online]. Available at: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/led-skylights-perfectly-mimic-natural-sunlight-180954348/?no-ist [Accessed 14th December 2015].

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Warehouse Mezzanine Floor

08 Feb A Guide to Choosing Mezzanine Floor Access

The Use of Your Mezzanine

The type of access required for your mezzanine floor will be largely dictated by its intended use. For example, a mezzanine floor that will be used for storage of large or bulky items will require completely different access to a mezzanine that is being used as office space. In the planning of mezzanine access, it is vital to consider the following issues:

Safety

Firstly, and most importantly, you will need to consider the safety of your employees. Are they likely to be carrying goods and produce? How heavy and bulky will these items be? It is important to consult qualified advisors and engineers who can make sure that access is designed in full compliance with fire and health and safety best practice. Further information on mezzanine floor safety can be found here. [Link the word “here” to article, ” Mezzanine Floor Safety: What You Need To Know About the Law”]

Convenience and Productivity

You will need to consider how many people will be accessing your mezzanine floor at a time and with what purpose. A ladder or spiral staircase will only be accessible to one person at a time and they will not be able to carry much with them. If your personnel are standing in line waiting for their “turn” to use the mezzanine access, this will inevitably have an impact on their productivity.

Will you be storing goods on the mezzanine? If so, how much will be moved at a time? How often will you be moving goods up and down? A storage facility that needs large, bulky items to be moved up or down 10-20 times a day, will need a different method of access to a distribution centre that plans to rapidly move thousands of smaller items a day.

Once you have fully considered all aspects of the use of your mezzanine, you will be able to discuss the access options that are available:

Steps

Steps are possibly the most obvious solution. They are a simple, inexpensive means of access. As steps are quick to climb and can support multiple users at once, they allow for convenience and productivity. Users are also able to carry small amounts of lightweight goods or paperwork with them up and down the stairs; unlike a cat ladder or similar. However, there are obviously limitations; large, heavy or bulky goods cannot be carried up and down stairs on a regular basis. Steps also do not allow for disabled access.

Personnel Lifts

Personnel lifts are a good solution for multi level mezzanine floors. It also allows the mezzanine to be used by people who find stairs inaccessible. It is important to have an additional means of accessing the mezzanine floor, as lifts cannot be used in the event of an emergency. They also have a limited capacity – so if lots of people are needing to go up or down, steps may be a useful secondary means of access.

Escalators

Escalators are often used in the mezzanine floors of large retail facilities. Large enough to accommodate a shopping trolley, escalators can support multiple users and substantial weight at one time. Safety features can be incorporated to stop goods (for example on trolleys) from rolling backwards and causing accidents.

Cat Ladder

A cat ladder is a very solid, stable ladder, which is an inexpensive means of accessing your mezzanine floor. It can also be built with platforms that can be used as rest stops, so can be used for multi level mezzanine floors.  It does not offer much potential for moving products, but it could be a secondary means of access, or in some cases could be an ideal fire escape. A qualified consultant will be able to advise on the fire safety requirements for your facility.

Spiral Staircases

A spiral staircase saves space and is also slightly easier to use than a ladder as it can be accessed without the use of hands for balance. Some companies have found spiral staircases to be a good secondary (or even primary) means of access to their mezzanine floor.

Conveyors

Conveyors are ideal for sending small to medium sized goods up or down from a mezzanine level. This is a particularly good option for facilities such as distribution warehouses where goods are moved very regularly throughout the day. Goods can quickly and efficiently be picked by staff on the mezzanine floor and sent down the conveyer to packers below. This produces a significant increase in productivity when compared with personnel having to escort goods down using lifts or stairs.

Goods Lifts

Goods lifts can be a useful way to access a mezzanine level that is used for storage, as large, heavy or bulky items can be transported. Your goods lift can be designed to take large trolleys and extreme weight, depending on your requirements.

Pallet Gates

Ideal for facilities where large amounts of heavy goods need to be moved on a regular basis, pallet gates allow you to have an open side to your mezzanine floor onto which pallets can be loaded and unloaded by crane or forklift. The gate protects the exposed edge to prevent accidental falls and ensures that while unloading and loading pallets, workers are always behind a safety rail. Pallet gates are available in all shapes and sizes, to suit your requirements. This is a very economical way of loading and unloading goods and can be used alongside an access method for your personnel, such as steps or ladders.

The laws governing mezzanine access are complex and the regulations that apply to your building will depend on numerous different factors. Therefore we always recommend that you consult experts before planning your mezzanine access. When WSL undertake a project, we take responsibility for ensuring that all planning and building regulations are met, as well as fire and health & safety regulations.

If you would like to book a consultation with one of our specialist mezzanine floor advisors, please call WSL today on: 0113 204 5350

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16 May MDA Completed

Group Effort for MDA

When award winning fulfilment and procurement specialist MDA handed WSL the keys to their brand new empty warehouse ahead of anticipating the busiest period in their 25 year history it took all the skills of the WS Group of companies to hand it back just seven weeks later ready to operate.

The first job of Warehouse Systems was to understand MDA’s business model and logistics patterns; only then can we design a system that will work now and into an expanding future.

The scheme includes eight thousand pallet locations operated by articulated fork lifts in 2 metre aisles, and a multi-tier long span shelving system with 8,000 SKUs.  In addition to marketing materials and consumable goods, MDA also house high value items so we constructed a secure cage for them in the multi-tier shelving system.  We took care of all the lighting requirements too; making sure lighting is in the most beneficial place for the storage is sometimes overlooked.  Knowing where and when to install essentials like lighting and sprinklers is just one of the advantages of having a total project under the auspices of one main contractor.

The WS groups manufacturing arm made a mezzanine loading platform to all tiers with pallet safety gates and staircases. The whole system was protected with our own access barriers and end of run protection.

Group interior specialist company Nexus Workspace constructed offices within the building.  This was a turnkey approach and included partitions, floor coverings, external windows, air-conditioning and electrics.  We also painted 120,000 sq ft of warehouse flooring with a two part epoxy finish in zone colours.

MDA Head of Fulfilment, Carl Lee, said of the project, “From start to finish we were delighted with the performance of WS Group. The opening of our brand new Fulfilment Centre marks both a significant investment and milestone in the growth of MDA as we continue our rapid expansion in the UK fulfilment industry. As the first choice to many of Britain’s and the world’s biggest brands we need to get it right first time and the support provided by WS Group throughout this process has been invaluable in ensuring our customers receive the highest quality of service from MDA at all times.”

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12 Dec SUPER STORAGE

Client – Superdrug PLC

Superdrug put out its brief for this £150K project in an open forum to seven contractors. WSL was chosen because of our ability to truly understand a client’s requirements and tailor our work accordingly.

Client Background

Superdrug is a well-known value chemist with a staggering 900 stores across the UK and Ireland. It also has a retail website from which products are sent direct to customers.

 

The Challenge

Due to its online expansion programme, Superdrug wanted to maximise storage space in its South Elmsall warehouse to accommodate picking fulfilment. The work to create this extra space would have to be done within a busy warehouse employing expert health and safety techniques.

The Solution

WSL installed a 5m-high, 1000m2 mezzanine floor. We erected short-span shelving for picking on the new first floor, and designed the layout around workbench areas to ensure picking and packing can be done as efficiently as possible. The mezzanine was fitted with a fire-rated suspended ceiling, column casings and fascias to comply with current building regulations.

In addition, as the mezzanine was built over a storage area, we dismantled the existing racking and reinstalled reduced-height racking under the mezzanine. We also installed end-of-run barriers, mezzanine guards and pallet racking post protection.

WSL was also contracted to install low-energy lighting, smoke detection and sprinkler system too. The mezzanine floor, part K staircases, rack barriers and pallet gates used on this project were manufactured in-house by WSL.

Added Value

The site was run under CDM regulations, with WSL being the principal contractor. We completed the project in just 16 weeks from start to finish.

 

 

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