Space is king in warehousing. What’s the best way to expand your space and how do you know when to do it?
Whether you use a floor plan designer to recommend upgrades in warehouse space or simply wait for your warehouse team to tell you they can’t move freely throughout the space any more, you should know your space utilization level. It can save you time, money and possibly a move.
To discover how well you’re utilizing your space, try this calculation: multiply the total square footage of the storage space in your warehouse (not including offices, break rooms or restrooms) by the warehouse space clear height. This will give you the warehouse storage capacity in cubic feet. Then find your inventory cube size by totaling the volume of all products in the storage space. Divide the volume of inventory by the warehouse capacity and you get your percentage of space utilization. Most warehouses are between 25 – 29 percent space utilization, which is considered normal. If it’s higher, it’s time to expand or find some efficiencies. If it’s lower, then you’ve got time to plan.
What if you could better utilize that space with a simple product addition? Remember that clear height from the calculation? That’s open, usable space. By installing a mezzanine, or platform, between the floor and the ceiling, you instantly create more storage space. Product can be stored under the mezzanine and on it. You can even build a second mezzanine on top of the first.
Mezzanines are strong, flexible and safe when used properly. They come in a variety of floor materials and can be free standing or connected to an existing rack system. They can also be connected to a building support or column. While mezzanines make excellent storage units, they also make ideal office and conferencing space. By moving your offices from the main floor to the mezzanine, you not only free up main floor storage space, but you also get a bird’s-eye view of the warehouse activity below. Using a mezzanine for offices or conference rooms also allows more privacy and limits the number of employees who have to go up and down the stairs to pick inventory during the day. Mezzanines can be enclosed, becoming a quiet respite from the noise of the warehouse.
Adding on to a mezzanine is also easy and seamless. As your warehouse needs continue to grow, you can add levels up to eight feet below the ceiling height, or you can add another mezzanine next to the initial one. The portable nature of mezzanines allows you to move them wherever and whenever necessary.
The two challenges of mezzanines are safety and personal preference. The mezzanine should be properly installed by a professional, and according to OSHA guidelines. The stairs or ramps should be sturdy and properly installed. They should be checked daily for any movement or loose parts, especially if workers are going up and down frequently. Finally, if you or a colleague have a fear of heights, do not move your office to the mezzanine!