People tend to call any elevated platform a “mezzanine” these days, but that can be a big mistake, especially in the permitting process. The terms equipment (or work) platform and mezzanine both refer to structures that create an intermediate floor. There are some important nuances however, and whether you call a structure a mezzanine or an equipment platform can have serious implications when it comes to the ease of getting building permits, as well as construction costs. The impact on your taxes and depreciation will also vary depending on the term used.

What’s a warehouse mezzanine? What’s a work platform?

A mezzanine is a relatively permanent structure that is typically installed within an existing building or industrial facility. It is a raised platform that is constructed above the ground floor, typically supported by existing columns or posts, and is designed to provide additional floor space for storage, office space, or other purposes. Mezzanines can be designed and installed in a wide range of configurations to meet the specific needs of the facility.

Multilevel Pick Module

A warehouse platform, on the other hand, is a raised platform that is typically designed and constructed as a stand-alone structure with the aim to provide additional floor space for storage, manufacturing, or other industrial processes. Warehouse platforms are generally larger and more robust than mezzanines and are designed to support heavy loads and equipment.

The pivotal differences: Is it part of the facility? What will you be using it for?

The critical distinction lies in the platform’s association with the facility. It hinges on whether the authorities classify the mezzanine as an integral part of the building or as capital equipment. Numerous newly constructed buildings incorporate what they refer to as “mezzanine levels” into their structural design. When a platform is deemed an inherent component of a building rather than capital equipment, it may be subject to compliance with building codes, restroom requirements, accessibility standards, and may influence tax rates and depreciation schedules.

Another key factor is the intent – It is imperative to ensure that building permit authorities and regulatory bodies fully grasp the purpose and design of the structure. To achieve this, it’s advisable to refer to your mezzanine project using designations such as “work platforms,” “elevated platforms,” “storage platforms,” “equipment platforms,” etc. These terms offer greater precision and clarity compared to the overly encompassing and sometimes imprecise term “mezzanine.”

This can impact your taxes since in some states mezzanines are considered part of the square footage of the facility, while platforms aren’t. This can seriously impact on property taxes every year, as well as depreciation deductions since capital equipment depreciates differently.

Practical Applications

Combined with various warehouse automation equipment, mezzanines can provide a great option to grow in your existing footprint by optimal usage of the cube in a variety of applications:

  • Storage
  • Production
  • Offices/Administrative Space
  • Equipment positioning
  • Picking Modules

Utilizing the vertical space with a mezzanine means that you need to move material between levels without creating bottlenecks. This means that you will need automation equipment to move materials up and down between levels. The technology for this purpose can be grouped into 3 general categories:

  1. Spiral Conveyors. This type of conveyor has a small footprint and provides excellent throughput, usually for handling of cartons, totes and less than pallet loads.Pick Module with slat conveyors, belt conveyors and roller conveyors
  2. Incline Conveyors. Though it is less space efficient than spiral conveyors, the incline conveyor is a very economical and robust option for automated handling of a wide variety of loads.
  3. Vertical Lifts. These sturdy pieces of equipment have a small footprint and are particularly effective in setups where heavier loads or bulky items need to be lifted.

In a warehouse environment one of the most important advantages of elevated platforms is their high-density storage application. Generally speaking, these can be classified in 3 groups:

  1. Rack Supported Mezzanines. These mezzanine configurations combine high bay pallet racking with walkways between the rack. The racks can be fitted with carton flow for dense order picking and mixed storage of pallets. Rack supported mezzanines allow a multitude of options for customization and are a very economical choice for vertical space utilization.Shelving Mezzanine
  2. Shelving Mezzanines. Applied in configurations for handling small items such as parts or tools. This type of platform maximizes the number of storage bins, allowing for a great number of SKUs to be organized in a concentrated space while remaining easily accessible for pickers.
  3. Multilevel Pick Modules. These highly customizable solutions integrate various storage solutions that enable a very efficient movement of product by combining elements of mezzanines with conveyors, spirals, pallet/carton flow, static racking and shelving, pick/put to light etc. They are specially designed with zoning and provide significant cost savings for broken pallet, full-case or open-carton picking.

How we can help you

The choice between a mezzanine and a warehouse platform ultimately depends on the specific needs of the facility and the goals of the business. As a true systems integrator, ABCO Systems also has a vast experience in designing and delivering these kinds of solutions, including a very efficient navigation of the permitting process. Reach out to us today to get started!