Storage space is never a cheap commodity and so, in a warehousing facility, it will often be necessary to make use of every square metre available. To ensure adequate transit space for both vehicles and humans, the usual solution is to increase the height of shelving and racking in order to accommodate more stock without sacrificing valuable floorspace. Unfortunately, this is a solution that has an obvious physical limitation. The problem, however, can be overcome by the addition of a mezzanine level. It could be supported by the existing racking and clad with whichever type of industrial flooring will be best able to cope with its intended use.
To a large degree, that choice will be determined by the distance between the supports for the mezzanine structure and could influence the choice of cladding material, its thickness, of both. Other factors such as the need to limit noise on the new level, to provide a protection against fire from below, or even to allow ventilation, will also influence the structural requirements to ensure that the installation will be safe and secure, and suited to the proposed task.
It is common practice to install automated sprinkler systems in storage facilities. In the event that they should be activated, the use of solid industrial flooring secured by tongue-and-groove joints could obstruct the flow of water and prevent it from reaching the seat of a fire occurring at ground level. In such cases, fitting slotted metal floor panels could be the solution. Given that a little over half of their surface is open, the slotted structure also tends to simplify the task of cleaning as, in the event that any oil, grease or water may be spilt, these are far less likely to be retained.
Another possible advantage of installing this type of industrial flooring is that the slots could also allow daylight from any windows at the upper level to penetrate the lower level. This could help to reduce any dependence on artificial lighting and, in the process, also provide a welcome reduction of the company’s electricity account.
Where it is intended to use the upper level to support a heavier structure such as an office, staff canteen, or packing area and is therefore likely to experience a lot of foot traffic, a cladding of plywood, fibreboard, or timber will prove to be more suitable. The thickness of the chosen cladding, as well as the number and spacing of the metal joists that are required to support it, will be determined by the overall load to which the industrial flooring will be subjected.