Design and installation
A mezzanine floor is a raised platform, typically independent of a building structure and supported by columns, racking structures or other adequate foundations. They don't always require planning permission, but they always need to have approved building regulations - this is most important!
Before a mezzanine floor is installed you must always consider: fire protection, emergency lighting, smoke and fire alarms, along with relevant safety signage for all appropriate areas and passage ways - particularly where there is a high volume of staff occupying the area on a permanent basis.
Fire protection is essential on highly populated mezzanine floor structures
Fire protection can include (but is not limited to)...
- Suspended ceilings
- Column casings
- Fire walls
- Smoke detection systems
- Bulkheads / fascias
- Sprinkler systems
- Exit staircases and more...
All of these features can be incorporated at the planning stage and are an essential way of fulfilling the standard health and safety requirements relating to the building and installation of mid to large size mezzanine floors.
Along with fire safety features and building regulations the BRE Digest 437 must also be taken into account. BRE Digest 437 strongly suggests that guards and handrails should be incorporated as part of a mezzanine floor from the get-go, not as an additional attachment! It also states that traditional chipboard decking is not as sufficient for long-term structural safety, and that P5 or P7 particle board is recommended as an alternative to maximise long-term structural safety, along with appropriate edge protection to stop employees falling.
SEC is a mezzanine floor supplier fully compliant with all requirements of BRE Digest 437 specified building regulations, and all elements can be incorporated at the planning stage.
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What they can do for you
Mezzanines can improve operator efficiency without necessarily increasing the prospect of higher rent costs. There is also less pressure to expand your overall footprint due to the floor being built on currently occupied space, which means additional savings can be potentially spent on other areas including staffing and resource. A win-win scenario!
Mezzanine floors can effectively maximise current floor space
An example: Our mezzanine floor design project for Karndean Designflooring allowed for the relocation of a primary business function, and in the process, increased floor space to provide an additional 1,140 pallet positions, boosting total warehouse capacity to nearly 11,000 pallets overall. A major increase, and a solution that effectively utilises all aspects of the available warehouse space.
The ability to insert mezzanine floor structures into spaces has also been positively encouraged by the UK Government for actively promoting the maximum footprint of a current warehouse space. Mezzanine floor construction is often seen as a more sustainable solution to the current expansive needs of the warehousing industry, so not only do you get a cost-effective, space saving solution, you get the kudos for installing a sustainable one as well.
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Bonus: Examples of mezzanine floors we have installed
The mezzanine floors we've installed for our clients were built for (but are not limited) to: the storage and picking of small components and product parts. The creation of a separate office space. To establish an area for marketing and sales materials and much more. You can get a better understanding of the projects and the companies we've installed them for via our case study selections below...
A mezzanine floor installation, combining both office environment & upstairs storage area
- Gee Force Logistics (G Force Group Ltd) - A joint Storage / Interiors design solution provides Gee Force Logistics with a new mezzanine office space, along with adjustable drive-in pallet racking in Leicester...
- Expert Installations Ltd - New mezzanine floor and pallet racking installation optimises storage capacity whilst allowing for the creation of additional office space at Expert Installations, Luton head office and warehouse...
- Karndean Designflooring Ltd - New mezzanine floor solution totalling 4,100 sq/ft in size increases overall pallet capacity without impacting the charging area and warehouse materials handling operation...
So now that you've had a good look over a few of our best examples, perhaps it's time we gave you the full picture. As you may have guessed, we are definitely pro-mezzanine floors here at SEC, but we like to give our readers both sides of the story. So here's our list of the benefits and drawbacks to help you make up your mind.
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Mezzanine floors are highly useful for any purpose that requires additional space. This could include a number of needs, for example:
- Production areas / assembly lines
- Picking and packing / bulk storage areas
- Dedicated machine operations
- The creation of new office spaces / boardroom areas
- Security areas for high value products and more...
- A mezzanine construction project can add multiple floors to structures less than 200 sq/m without the need for additional planning permission. This then converts your mezzanine floor into a multi-tiered structure. For more information on this, consult our Guide to...Multi-Tier Racking Systems to find out more
- The added space provided by the installation of a mezzanine floor can help to optimise picking operations when combined with the right accessories to compliment - such as goods lifts and gravity chutes
- Mezzanine floor structures can be built upon long-span shelving and rack supported structures, meaning the foundational support of the structure can act as a storage unit in itself
- They are considered to be a highly cost effective solution when compared to the price of warehouse expansion
A mezzanine floor, built to form a new office space on the first floor
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- The Government has brought in additional legislation regarding mezzanine floors that are greater than 200 sq/m. These now require planning permission (which is something our team can assist with)
- Depending on the size of the mezzanine, especially those that are rather large, lead times for assembly and construction can take multiple weeks (this is of course an expectation across the industry and can be dealt with effectively at the planning stage)
- Small mezzanine floors, built for storage purposes only do not always need to be fire rated, as long as the dimensions do not exceed 20m in length or width, and the floor does not exceed more than 50% of the floor area of the space that it is installed in. Anything that exceeds these recommendations will have to be fire rated, with a minimum fire rating of 60 minutes. Although this is not a specific drawback it can represent further costs, and it is something that needs to be taken into account at the planning stage
Planning permission is required for mezzanine floors greater than 200 sq/m
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Mezzanine floor accessories
Components and accessories that can be incorporated into a mezzanine floor include (but are not limited to):
- Protective guards and handrails, as mentioned above in the BRE Digest 437 these are strongly recommended, along with edge of structure foot protection to maximise employee safety
- Mezzanine floor structures can be equipped with the recommended P5 to P7 particle boards for structural stability, or even provided with a galvanised steel mesh solution
- To maximise picking operations, goods lifts, gravity chutes and conveyor systems are the general go-to solutions, allowing you to optimise the distribution of product from the first to ground floor levels of the mezzanine
- Gravity chutes can help to maximise product transfer between floors
Gravity chutes can help to maximise product transfer between floors
The above recommendations act as a small showcase for the possible accessories and components that can be incorporated into a mezzanine floor structure. Various configurations are available that can help to optimise both your picking operations and general warehouse safety and SEC can happily advise in greater detail at the planning stage should you chose to explore this option.
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So there you have it, a small insight into the benefits and drawbacks of mezzanine floor structures and how they can maximise your warehouse storage operation. The process starts at the design and planning stage, a process that is offered as a complimentary service to all SEC customers.
If you would like to know more about our complimentary space planning and design process then feel free to get in touch below.
Post by Adam Bissmire-Mullen