Here’s a question from Captain Obvious: “Have you ever noticed that warehouses tend to have tall ceilings?” After all, isn’t that kind of the point of a warehouse, so that you can store things up high? In most circumstances, the height of the ceiling and the pallet racks are only limited by the material handling system you have in place.
But as tall as pallet racks are, there is often space in a warehouse that goes wasted. You see, pallet racks can’t go absolutely everywhere in a warehouse. For instance, they can’t be placed over picking and packing stations or above modular prefab offices because that would cause safety dangers (not to mention that forklifts couldn’t get to them).
So what can be done with that wasted space if pallet racks aren’t an option? The best answer in most cases is to have a warehouse mezzanine system built in your warehouse.
What Is A Mezzanine?
A mezzanine is simply an elevated platform that is built in a warehouse in order to make use of unused vertical space. They can be accessed by stairs, ladders, ramps, or elevators. Mezzanines will often include their own lighting since they will be blocking overhead lights in the warehouse. While they can be completely enclosed, they are often open and use guardrails for fall protection.
Here’s the primary reason that businesses build mezzanines: to increase square footage and prevent the need to move to a larger warehouse or build an addition (see below). The average warehouse is between 25,000 and 50,000 square feet. If you build a 3,000-square-foot mezzanine over your conveyor system, you’ve increased the square footage of your warehouse by six to twelve percent. If you add a double mezzanine level, that’s increasing the warehouse capacity from twelve to twenty-four percent!
Why Mezzanines Are So Versatile
Mezzanines are so popular with warehouse managers and designers in part because they’re so versatile.
They Offer Many Support Options
When you contact DAK to design and build an industrial mezzanine system for you, we’ll be able to work with your warehouse blueprint in order to get you the raised platform you want. Mezzanines are custom-designed to fit in the space you require, and can be either self-supported or building-supported (maybe even a combination of both). We might even be able to attach it to your existing shelving or pallet racking system, eliminating the need for ground support and reducing the chance of a forklift running into it.
They Go Up Fast
While design and planning can take longer, it only takes a couple of days to erect a mezzanine. We can usually take care of it over a weekend if that would cause less disruption to warehouse activities.
As warehouse optimization experts, we know very well that not all pallet racks, modular offices, and warehouse mezzanines end up in the same place they were originally put together. If you find yourself with an overcrowded warehouse and require warehouse optimization consulting, your mezzanine can be disassembled and moved in order to accommodate the new plans.
Size Isn’t Much Of An Issue
You might think to yourself “but I need a lot of space.” Don’t immediately count warehouse mezzanines out just because the ones you’ve seen are only a couple hundred square feet. As you can see from this picture, free-standing mezzanines can add more square feet to a space than you might imagine.
Advantages of A Mezzanine Over Building Additions
If you are running out of warehouse space and are looking into building additions, hold on! There are a few reasons you’ll want to make the most of your existing space before you either build a new warehouse or construct an addition to your current warehouse.
Installation Doesn’t Take As Long
Building a mezzanine in your current warehouse takes so much less time than building a traditional building. By using a mezzanine to increase your space, you’ll probably be using it within just a few days. In fact, it will probably be in use before the concrete even dries on a typical stick-built building!
They Cost Less Money
New buildings have a lot of up-front costs that have to be considered. There’s the grading of the land, the pouring of a new foundation, and construction. All of these costs can be for side-stepped if you just decide to use a warehouse mezzanine system over a standalone building.
Upkeep Is Easier
While construction costs tend to be much more expensive for a stick-built building, upkeep is also considerably more expensive. Heating and cooling are good examples, because with a mezzanine it’s easier to simply take advantage of the heat that’s already being pumped into the main warehouse. A standalone building is also out in the elements and will require upkeep that a mezzanine will never need.
Depreciation Is An Advantage
Here’s a helpful little tax tip. If you construct a mezzanine, it’s considered tangible property (mostly because it can be moved). But if you build something new outside, it’s considered real property. Because taxable property can be written off as a depreciation in a much shorter amount of time than real property is, you’ll reap the tax rewards that much sooner.
They Can Be Sold
This is the part that most businesses and warehouse managers don’t consider when buying a mezzanine. If you redesign the warehouse and find that the mezzanine doesn’t fit in with the new warehouse strategy plan, the solution is simple: sell the mezzanine. Because they’re able to be disassembled and removed from the warehouse, they are able to be trucked to anyone who’s willing to buy. In fact, DAK Equipment and Engineering can handle both the disassembly and purchase the mezzanine if you see fit. We run The Used Rack Warehouse, and we’re sure that we find a buyer for your particular industrial mezzanine.
Compare that to a permanent structure like a stick-built building. If you no longer need it, it’s just going to sit there. You’re certainly not going to sell it, because it’s still on your property (and maybe even attached to your current warehouse). In short, it becomes a liability.
What Can Mezzanines Be Used For?
Okay, now that you know why industrial mezzanine systems are such a good deal and why they’re so versatile, let’s take a look at some of the most common ways in which they’re used in warehouses.
While ground-level warehouse modular offices are very popular, mezzanines also make excellent office space. Because mezzanines can be enclosed, they offer a private space in which warehouse managers and bean counters can work.
Lunch Room/Break Room
If you are currently using part of your main floor for a break room and are quickly running out of space, a mezzanine might be what you’re looking for. Instead of having a single-level break room taking up that space, move it to a mezzanine and use its old space to add a bunch more multi-tier pallet racks and wire racking.
If you’re interested in a financial reason to invest in a mezzanine break room, consider this. If you offer employees a nice place to lunch, they’re less likely to leave the premises in order to go home to eat or to head to a restaurant. When they leave the property, employees are more likely to take advantage of the time they’re away, meaning that a lunch hour becomes a “lunch hour-and-a-half.” Give them a comfortable place to have lunch and they’ll be more likely to stick around.
If your warehouse is involved in manufacturing or assembling, you might be looking for a place in which to test these items once they’re ready for shipment. A mezzanine level — whether it’s enclosed or open to the rest of the warehouse — can offer an excellent location that’s out of the way while still being close to the action.
A clean room mezzanine level is the only time that a new level in your warehouse would definitely need to be enclosed. While most mezzanines simply have safety railings in order to prevent falls, a clean room can be sealed off in order to prevent and evacuate dust from the room.
Because mezzanine levels are custom-built, they can easily be outfitted with any power requirements necessary. While most have lights and power outlets, more power can be added to accommodate the special equipment and fans associated with clean rooms.
While mezzanine decks are a great way to make use of space that pallet rack systems can’t fill, there’s one thing that most of them aren’t very good at: allowing easy access for forklifts.
Sure, you can have us design a mezzanine level that has easier forklift access than usual, but it’s not going to be quite as easy to access as a standard pallet rack system. That’s why companies that use the mezzanine level for storage often put stuff up there that they don’t need to access very often. It might be slow-moving or seasonal merchandise, or it could be files that have to be kept but that no one honestly believes will even need to be accessed again.
In short, a standard mezzanine level makes for great storage, as long as you’re not bringing stuff in on a forklift every day. That being said…
The Sky’s The Limit!
Now that we’ve told you that mezzanines aren’t meant to accept a lot of new inventory, we’re going to backtrack and go the opposite direction. Sure, use them for new inventory!
Here’s the thing about mezzanines: They can be pretty much anything you need them to be! Why? Because when you work with a company like DAK, we can design and assemble a mezzanine to satisfy just about any desires you might have. Do you need to drive a forklift on your new mezzanine? Talk to us about it. Are you interested in doubling the size of your carton flow racks? We’re here to help. The items that warehouses receive, store, assemble, and ship out are endless, and there’s no way we could ever tell you all of the ways in which mezzanine decks can be created and used. Just contact us and we’ll make sure you get exactly what you need.
Let’s Make Your Mezzanine Happen
If you’re like most people, what we’ve told you about mezzanines has been pretty revelatory. If you’ve seen mezzanine levels in warehouses in the past, it’s likely that they were used for very simple purposes. Now that you know what they can do — how they can be designed and built for specific needs— we hope you’ve come to realize that they offer an efficiency upgrade to your warehouse space.
If you’re interested in making the most of your square footage while saving money at the same time, we’d love to talk to you. Contact the professional warehouse optimization designers at DAK Equipment and Engineering to get the process started!