As specialists in mezzanines, we are used to taking on challenges. But, what happens when a customer has a very specific and complex request? In this case, the customer wanted not one, not two, but a four-story floor installed. Including an integrated conveyor system. In addition, a seamless connection was required between the shelf racks, which were placed on each floor, and the mezzanine floor.
The resulting challenges were therefore mainly in the areas of stability, complexity and logistics. Moreover, close cooperation with the suppliers of the shelving and conveyor system was crucial. Our true expertise lies in our ability to coopertate en collaberate with several suppliers.
As indicated above, there was a challenge with the stability of the mezzanine This was due to the following aspects:
- Cross braces
To give stability to the mezzanine floor, cross braces are normally used. Cross braces are steel crosses that ensure the stability of the steel construction and thus the entire mezzanine floor (see illustration Cross braces). For this project, a significant number of the mezzanine’s floors had to be constructed without cross braces in order to provide space for the installation of a conveyor system. A conveyor system is a conveyor belt for transporting products.
On the four levels, a flowing connection had to be made with connecting shelf racks. This required many passages and aisles. But using traditional cross braces would obstruct these aisles and thus limit accessibility.
Additional challenge was that the project site was located in an earthquake zone. This required a structural solution with additional bracing that provided sufficient power to ensure stability in these conditions.
To meet the above challenges, we decided to use a combination of cross braces and k-braces. K-braces are steel frames designed to allow passage while maintaining the necessary stability of the floor (see figure k-braches).
The warehouse had a height of 10.4 meters. In this height, the customer wanted to have a floor with four levels installed. But normally with that available height, we could realize three levels. So it was important to make sure that each floor still had enough height to install the shelf racks and work there.
To save space in height, we installed a compact steel structure with thin beams (see image thin beams). This left enough free height on each floor. This made it possible to place shelving on all four levels.
In addition, a sprinkler system was needed. The stored products are flammable, and without sprinklers, a fire cannot be extinguished quickly enough. We incorporated the pipes of the sprinkler system into the steel structure by inserting holes in the beams (see image sprinkler system). The positioning of the sprinkler and the corresponding hole pattern was determined in advance in a 3D environment. This was done in consultation with all suppliers involved to avoid any problems in practice.
As indicated earlier, the project consisted of three parts: a four-story floor from Almacon, a conveyor system and shelving from two other suppliers. Good cooperation with these parties was therefore very important. We shared our mezzanine design, with the two other suppliers, in a 3D-environment. This allowed us to make sure that everything fitted together properly. Even a centimeter difference could cause major problems.
We all used the same starting point, a zero point, to create our drawings. These drawings were eventually brought together in the 3D-environment. This allowed good comparison so problems could be solved early on. For example, when a conveyor runs through a brace or when a passageway is blocked somewhere by a column. The moment all drawings fitted together, the design was recorded in that 3D-environment. We call that a design freeze. From then on, the material can be put into production and assembly drawings are prepared for installation on site.
The logistics part of this project presented a complex puzzle. The realization of a 23,000-square-meter mezzanine in a new 100,000-plus-square-meter distribution center, which involved multiple construction parties, required precise coordination. Because construction of the mezzanine had to begin immediately after the location opened, the project was carried out in phases. All components of the mezzanine floor, the conveyor system and the shelf racks had to be delivered according to a tight schedule. The trucks were unloaded according to a strict schedule.
Thanks to this carefully followed logistics plan, the project was completed within four months.
To give a good idea of the project, here are the specifications:
- Implementation cold-rolled system
- Four storey floor +2.600mm +5.200 mm +7.800 mm + 10.400mm
- Earthquake area location
- Surface 23.000 m²
- A flowing connection with shelf racks
- Passages made for a conveyor system
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