Mezzanine structures made fit for evolving needs


With recent developments at BHS and Austin Reed, we have two clear reminders as to why it is so vital for organisations to keep up with the times, and build the internal capability.

Mezzanine structures made fit for evolving needs

Survival of the 'fit'-for-purpose


Thanks to Mister Darwin, we're familiar with theories on evolutionary processes; the link between survival and an organism's ability to adapt to its environment . Certainly as an owner of a business organisation/organism, I've witnessed a surge in the number of our clients, especially those in retail distribution and e-fulfilment in Europe, who have engaged our firm specifically because of our widely-acknowledged expertise in the delivery of "fit-for purpose", "future-proofed" mezzanine installations.


Quiet a tongue-twister, I know, but these are two subjects that are worth examining as businesses fight to stay relevant in a digital economy, where they are faced with a customer base that is demanding more and more. This is evident in the retail industry where both bricks and mortar stores and dotcoms race to increase their share of the online retail market, the fastest growing retail sector in Europe and North America.

For many multinational organisations, the answer is then to be better able to sense consumer demand and respond to it in real-time. This requires new supply chain models that are designed to be both flexible and responsive, as well as in many cases high volume, high velocity and low cost.


A future-proofed retail distribution centre for a shifting market


For those of you who are not too familiar with the two terms used above:


  • "fit for purpose" means to be well-equipped for a designated purpose; and
  • "future-proofing" is the process of anticipating the future and ensuring that products, services and information are still relevant or accessible in the future. It refers to the ability of something to continue to be of value into the distant future.

So let me share one example of how these two concepts apply in the competitive worlds of retail distribution and mezzanine construction.

Mezzanine International had been invited by a leading construction firm to tender to a competitor's design and specification for a 4,500 square metre distribution facility for a multi-channel retailer. But there was something very wrong with the specification, the column loadings stated in the specification did not match up to the design loads and column grid on time tender drawings. As these column loadings where being used to design the foundations, this was a serious problem.


But, as is often the case in tendering, the main contractor was keen to get a "like for like" quotation, rather than wanting to change things during the tender process. After it was established we were competitive through the tender process, we were allowed to meet and discuss our initial concerns.


Taking care of future business demand for our customers


An immediate stop was put on ground works until our assertion of incorrect loadings were verified. They original stated column loadings on the tender drawings were 33% lighter than they should have been, if the foundations had been cast this would have had catastrophic effects to the scheme.


Now we could get to designing the scheme, economically but giving the end client a fit-for-purpose, quality product with the future, flexibility needed for the retailer to operate and continue to thrive in a highly competitive, increasingly technology driven market.


A three-tier structure was designed, but during the design phase the client wanted to reduce to two with the third level easy to be finished in the future, in response to anticipated future demand. The customer was relieved (and grateful) that our design, with Universal Column uprights, gave them that sort of flexibility. So the design was changed, as the structure was still strong enough with the restraint of a third level because of the "heavier" columns we had chosen in all our multi-tier structures.


Taking care of orders coming in now


The three-tier structure was designed with skeletal steelwork on the third level, this would enable the addition on the third level in the future with the least amount of disruption to the now functional working warehouse distribution centre.


Other changes through the design stage were accommodated with for example, the demand by the insurance company that the underside of the decking be made to have fire resistance due to a specific use within the building. Again, no problem, the Mezzanine International project team replaced the decking to a fire resistant system.


Phases of installation became critical due to the delays in the foundations (as a result of the original specification error). The client was pleased with our design and swift installation as the project was built in 6 weeks, well ahead of schedule. The floor was designed to be stable in the temporary condition for each phase, again this being possible using universal columns in a frame design model.


What the client says about us


"We're delighted with the results of our project with Mezzanine International who hit every milestone, with the installation being completed two weeks ahead of schedule. A great structure and a very happy outcome for all involved." Craig Gordon, Project Manager, Buckingham Group


As more and more retailers look to capitalise on the growth in online shopping, and optimise their storage, distribution and e-fulfilment processes, a mezzanine floor provides a quick, cost-effective and scalable solution with minimal disruption to business.


A mezzanine structure will:

    • seamlessly integrate with your buildings and technologies, maximising the use of existing space so eliminating the expense of moving premises; and
    • support your business' needs both today and tomorrow as demand changes.

Scott Chambers
+44 (0) 1732 849900
+44 (0) 7809 391513


Tanya Palmer
Group Marketing Manager
+44 (0) 1732 849900
+44 (0) 7584 906913

Date: June 2016

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