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Mezzanines are raised, often un-walled platforms that are used in a diversity of settings; they can be used to store unused materials, provide working space for equipment and seat people in auditoriums, among many other uses. Industrial mezzanines, however, are used only for purposes related to industrial operations. Manufacturers, suppliers, distributors and service companies all make use of mezzanines.
Because of the great variety of applications in which mezzanines are used, mezzanine construction companies offer mezzanine systems in a variety of configurations. Factories and warehouses, for example, use storage mezzanines and platforms to store anything from surplus products to equipment parts. These mezzanines are often made of steel or other strong metals and can be either free-standing or structural, which means that they can stand independent of support from another structure, or they can be integral parts of the buildings in which they are constructed. Some mezzanine applications call for little more than a small, simple platform where supplies or products can be stored. In these cases some operations may make use of prefabricated mezzanines, which are designed and partially assembled by manufacturers even before they have been ordered by customers. In cases where a mezzanine will serve a more specialized purpose, custom mezzanines can be designed to precise specifications; a customer could request a specific floor perforation size or shape if desired.
Every industrial operation that concerns itself with efficiency must contend with the issue of space management. When a growing business invests in new equipment or increases its supply of products for distribution, space is required to house the equipment and store the products. If the business continues to grow, eventually it will run out of space. A company in this situation is faced with a few choices. Construction of new facilities is a possibility, but the costs of construction materials and labor, building permits, taxes and other expenses associated with new construction can be prohibitive, especially for small businesses. Expansion of existing facilities is expensive for the same reasons, but to a lesser extent. Another option that most business would not like to accept would be the indefinite stagnation of business growth; a distributor that has filled every pallet in its warehouse has no room to grow. Because many companies cannot afford building construction or expansion, and because no company wants to accept stagnation, mezzanine systems are the solutions to which a business can turn to create more storage or work space.
Constructing a mezzanine effectively doubles the capacity of the area in which it is installed (triple-decker and larger models create even more space). Depending on the construction materials and configuration, the extra space can be used for a variety of applications. Structural mezzanines, which are platforms that are suspended by a combination of a building's own load-bearing elements and by some columns and supports, can be used to provide work surfaces for machinery and for the storage of heavy materials. Structural mezzanines are usually built into a building at the time of its construction; their uses are usually predetermined, and their design reflects their intended application. Freestanding mezzanines, many of which are prefabricated, usually perform less demanding tasks like the temporary storage of lighter-weight materials. Neither structural nor free-standing mezzanines impede the operation of workers or machinery on lower levels. Their supports can be placed in a way that minimizes interference with the movement of personnel and equipment. Some mezzanines are used for very short term storage of products. In these cases, easy, rapid transportation between the mezzanine and other levels as well as easy access to stored materials on the mezzanine level are essential. Mezzanines can be equipped with lift and conveyor systems to make storage and retrieval of materials much less complicated.
In addition to their capacity for storing materials and providing workspace for equipment, mezzanines can be used for several other purposes. Perimeter mezzanines are used in factories, warehouses and in other large buildings for observation of floor operations and for easy transportation from one end of a busy or full building to another. They can even be used to accommodate visitors or guests during tours. Mezzanines can also provide a surface or ceiling for offices. A small, ground-floor office, for example, could be built beneath a mezzanine; the mezzanine floor can simultaneously provide the office ceiling and a platform for storage. An office could also be built above a mezzanine platform, allowing the space below to be used for storage or for other uses. Regardless of their use or configuration, all mezzanine systems are designed to protect worker safety. Most mezzanine access stairs are treaded and marked with brightly-colored or reflective tape to reduce slipping or stumbling risks, and perimeter railings help prevent falls. Because many mezzanine systems are highly modular, if necessary they can be disassembled, expanded, reduced or relocated. Mezzanines' features of modularity, versatility and their many possible configurations make them an excellent solution to space management problems.
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- additional dead loads besides the structure's weight and decking materials, such as sprinklers, ceilings and electrical and mechanical systems.
- the allowance in the load capacity of the mezzanine in order to account for the weight of the actual mezzanine structure.
- an open grid of metal bars. The grid bars are attached to cross bars that run perpendicular to them or to bent connecting bars which extend between them.
- a storage method in which unitized loads are stocked more than one unit high and/or deep.
- a platform at the end of stair flights. Landings are frequently used on mezzanines.
- the amount a mezzanine will sway due to lateral loads.
- the force that acts horizontally on the mezzanine, causing it to sway. All mezzanine structures are designed to withstand a particular degree of lateral loading.
- any vehicle that is used to lift, stack, rack or move a load(s). Forklift is synonymous with the term lift truck.
- the maximum weight the mezzanine is designed to hold safely. Typical live loads range from 50 to 250 PSF.
- a unit of measurement that signifies the number of pounds of pressure within a one square foot area.
- a structural member attached horizontally to the primary frames of mezzanines. Purlins provide support for the flooring and loads.