A Complete Guide to Mezzanines & Catwalks

A Complete Guide to Mezzanines & Catwalks

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!

Beyond Racking: Unveiling High-Density Storage Solutions

Beyond Racking: Unveiling High-Density Storage Solutions

In the world of modern warehousing, the demand for optimized space utilization is a constant challenge. Traditional racking systems have long been the mainstay in the warehousing industry, providing reliable and robust storage solutions. However, as operational demands surge and available space is at a premium, the quest for more space-efficient solutions becomes imperative. High-density storage technologies offer an array of solutions for businesses seeking to maximize their warehousing operations. In this blogpost, we delve deeper into the subject of high-density storage, revealing its potential to revolutionize your processes.

The Dilemma of Space and Efficiency

Efficiency and space utilization are integral elements of warehousing success. High-density storage solutions offer the elusive answer to this space-efficiency conundrum. These innovative systems are meticulously designed to do more than merely expand capacity; they also prioritize accessibility, organization, and efficiency.

Pushback Racking: Dynamic Optimization

Among the unsung heroes of high-density storage is pushback racking. Distinct from traditional pallet racking, pushback systems permit multiple pallets to be stored within a single lane. This dynamic storage system hinges on specially designed carts and rails that facilitate the sliding of pallets into the system as new ones are loaded. It not only optimizes space, but it also significantly enhances accessibility, making it an adaptable choice for high-velocity goods.

Pallet Shuttle

Pallet Shuttle Systems: Efficiency Redefined

Pallet shuttle systems represent another hidden gem within high-density storage, offering an efficient and cost-effective way to store large quantities of goods. These systems employ motorized shuttles that transport pallets within deep storage lanes. By eliminating the need for forklifts to enter the storage lanes, shuttle systems save time, reduce labor costs, and dramatically optimize the warehousing operations. These systems are also configurable and customizable, allowing users to tailor them to their specific needs. They can be used in a variety of applications and are designed to be compatible with existing racking and shelving, making them an ideal solution for those looking to upgrade their existing storage solutions.

Very Narrow Aisle System

Very Narrow Aisle (VNA) Solutions: Precision in Cramped Quarters

For situations where every inch of space is critical, Very Narrow Aisle (VNA) solutions provide an answer. These systems, coupled with specialized turret forklifts, function in aisles that are substantially narrower than those required by traditional racking systems. VNA designs make optimal use of vertical space while ensuring that each pallet position remains easily accessible. They represent the ultimate choice for those seeking to optimize storage within tight confines and make the most out of the available warehouse square footage.

Automated Storage and Retrieval System

Automated Retrieval: The Fusion of Precision and Speed

To harness the full potential of high-density storage, automation is the key. Automated storage and retrieval systems (AS/RS) work seamlessly with high-density storage solutions, delivering unparalleled precision and speed. These systems transport products directly to operators, eliminating the need for manual retrieval. AS/RS systems are highly efficient and reliable, allowing for rapid product movement and provide the ability to respond to orders faster and in a more cost-effective way.

The automation of storage and retrieval processes also offers distinct advantages when it comes to inventory management. Automation means that products can be tracked extremely accurately as they move through the warehouse, providing real-time visibility into inventory levels. This allows companies to react quickly to changes in demand, ensuring that they always have the right amount of stock on hand, while achieving unparalleled accuracy and speed when handling the inventory.

 

The Route to Space Optimization

High-density storage solutions can be your gateway to space optimization and heightened efficiency. By embracing these innovative systems, you open the door to a more organized, streamlined, and cost-effective warehousing operation. Here are several tips to set you on the path:

Assess Your Needs: Commence by evaluating your current storage requirements and the constraints of your warehousing space. This initial step will help you ascertain the specific high-density solution that best aligns with your demands.

Seek Expert Guidance: High-density storage is not a one-size-fits-all remedy. Collaborate with experts who possess a comprehensive understanding of your industry and its unique challenges. Their expertise can be invaluable in designing a tailored solution.

Plan for Growth: Ensure that the high-density solution you choose can accommodate your projected growth. High-density storage represents an investment in your future, one that should be scalable to meet your evolving needs.

Invest in Employee Training: Implement comprehensive training programs to ensure that your employees are well-versed in the new system. Proper training will result in safer and more efficient operations.

Establish a Maintenance Routine: High-density storage solutions, like any other machinery, necessitate regular maintenance. Develop a schedule for routine maintenance to ensure your system operates at its optimal performance level.

The potential for more efficient, organized, and space-optimized warehousing operations is within reach. By partnering with ABCO, you can explore a world beyond traditional racking and position your business for growth and success even in the challenging landscape of economic uncertainty. Reach out to us today to get started!

 

How Effective Warehouse Design Impacts Inventory Management

How Effective Warehouse Design Impacts Inventory Management

In the complex landscape of modern commerce, the role of a well-designed warehouse cannot be underestimated. The efficient movement and management of inventory lie at the heart of any successful supply chain, and it all begins with the meticulous design of the warehouse itself. In this blog post, we’ll delve into the crucial relationship between warehouse design and inventory management, exploring how a thoughtfully planned layout can spell the difference between chaos and streamlined success.

The Blueprint for Efficiency

Warehouse design isn’t just about aesthetics; it’s about optimizing every inch of available space for maximum efficiency. A strategically planned layout takes into consideration the types of products stored, their demand patterns, and the frequency of movement. By categorizing products based on their characteristics and turnover rates, an effective design can minimize travel time and reduce the likelihood of congestion. This means faster picking, packing, and replenishment processes, ultimately leading to shorter lead times and happier customers.

Zoning for Success

Zoning is the art of assigning specific areas of the warehouse for different activities. From receiving and storage to order picking and shipping, each zone is tailored to support its intended function. A well-zoned warehouse not only reduces unnecessary movement but also minimizes the risk of errors. High-demand items are placed closer to packing stations, while slower-moving inventory is stored in less accessible areas. This strategic allocation ensures that valuable labor and time are directed where they matter most.

Technology Integration

In the digital age, effective warehouse design goes hand in hand with technology integration. Automated storage and retrieval systems, conveyor belts, and robotics all play a pivotal role in optimizing inventory management. These technological advancements are seamlessly integrated into the warehouse layout, enhancing accuracy, speed, and scalability. For instance, the synergy between robotics and storage solutions allows for real-time inventory tracking, reducing the chances of stockouts and overstocks.

Futureproofing Through Flexibility

The only constant in business is change, and warehouse design must accommodate this reality. Flexibility is key to future-proofing a facility. Storage systems that can be reconfigured and expanded without major disruptions are our specialty. This adaptability allows your warehouse to adjust to shifting demands, new product lines, and evolving industry trends. As a result, inventory management remains agile and responsive.

Visibility and Analytics

Effective inventory management requires accurate data and real-time insights. A well-designed warehouse incorporates technology that provides visibility into stock levels, order status, and movement patterns. Advanced analytics enable better forecasting, allowing businesses to adjust inventory levels based on historical data and demand projections. By aligning warehouse design with data-driven decision-making, businesses can avoid overstocking, reduce carrying costs, and improve overall financial health.

Conclusion

In the intricate web of supply chain operations, an effective warehouse design serves as the linchpin that holds everything together. When you partner with ABCO Systems, this crucial aspect of success comes with an exceptional advantage. Our team specializes in crafting tailor-made warehouse designs that are meticulously aligned with your unique needs. What’s more, these custom designs become an invaluable asset practically at no cost when you tap into our comprehensive suite of services.

By working with ABCO Systems, you’re not just working with a service provider; you’re gaining a strategic partner that understands all the intricacies of warehouse design and is dedicated to helping you excel in every step of your supply chain journey. Contact us today to get started.

Enhance Safety with Automation

Enhance Safety with Automation

Safety is of paramount importance in any warehousing operation. At ABCO Systems, we understand the gravity of this responsibility, and as a leading material handling integrator company, we take it upon ourselves to champion the cause of workplace safety. With this white paper, we aim to shed light on the transformative impact of automated material handling equipment in creating a safer work environment for all. Contact us today to learn how we can help you create a safer working environment.

Click the “Able Approved” icon to download the “Enhancing Safety in Warehousing Operations: The Role of Automated Material Handling Equipment” – White Paper.

Increasing Storage Capacity with Selective Racking

Increasing Storage Capacity with Selective Racking

Selective pallet racking is the most common pallet racking system. It is a storage solution for many warehouses and distribution centers. What makes it “selective” is that the user has direct access to every single pallet.
Selective racking is made up of uprights and beams, and pallets sit on crossbars. Wire decks can be used to help catch loose items from pallets or create locations to place cartons.

Advantages of Selective Racking

As stated above, an advantage for selective racking is that the operator has access to every single pallet. Unlike other pallet racking options, an operator does not have to remove pallets to gain access to a pallet, as selective racking is a first-in, first-out (FIFO) inventory system.
Selective racking is generally considered a less expensive option compared to other systems such as carton flow and push back racking.
Selective racking can be integrated with other forms of racking and material handling solutions to accomplish your goals within a DC. It is adaptable to any product size and weight and can be easily reconfigured for new product requirements.

Disadvantages of Selective Racking

A common disadvantage of selective racking is that it is considered a low-density storage and requires aisle spacing to ensure selectability. Aisle spacing is determined by the forklift in use at any given facility. Sit-down forklifts will typically require a 12ft aisle in between selective rows, while stand-ups require less.

Types of Lift Trucks

source: Cisco-Eagle

Selective rows can be installed back-to-back to ensure that the maximum space is being utilized in a warehouse.

Types of Selective Racking

Selective rack is available in both roll-form and structural steel.
Structural steel racking can support more pounds-per-square-inch than roll form. It is also very resilient and can withstand impact from lift equipment. The higher cost of structural steel might make it worth it if you are consistently needing to replace damaged uprights due to collisions by your forklift ope