Maria Madamombe, Author at Hi-Level Mezzanines

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Project Management Challenges Part 1 – Delivering On Time

In the first of our two articles about project management in the construction industry, we’re covering one of the most challenging elements of a dynamic project involving multiple stakeholders  – delivering on time.

Any large-scale warehouse project, whether constructing or buying new premises or remodelling existing premises, is highly complex and a large investment for the end user.

Retail is a 24/7 industry and fulfilment of customer orders has to continue with minimal disruption, and any construction project that impacts on warehousing or distribution centres will invariably affect the supply chain to some extent.  Consumers are increasingly demanding with expectations for same day or next day deliveries, which retailers are under pressure to meet.

Construction projects therefore need to be delivered as quickly and efficiently as possible to help minimise operational disruption to the end user.

Common challenges that can affect deadlines include:

  • Adaptation of requirements during the project – a customer’s original brief can change during the project which can impact on design, manufacturing and installation
  • Contractor delays – the most people involved in a project, the more the risk increases of delays due to the impact on other Contractors or in turn their sub contractors

At Hi-Level we’ve primarily undertaken the role of Contractor under CDM Regulations during our 28 years of trading and have been involved in warehouse projects of varying scale and complexity. Based on our collective experience, here are three ways we believe Contractors like ourselves can help mitigate delays in project delivery:

Clarity on requirements

‘Measure twice, cut once’ is as apt to project management as it is to carpentry!  If the preparation has been thorough, and the customer’s requirements have been clearly communicated and interpreted correctly by the Contractor, project delivery should be smoother and less prone to complications.   Any missing information in the brief or false assumptions made by either side could impact adversely on the agreed delivery date, so all eyes need to be on the detail when agreeing any specification.

An important part of the Hi-Level project management process is to supply both a detailed specification and CAD drawings which are approved by the customer to ensure everything is correct before just-in-time manufacturing commences.  With a structural engineer and former Project Manager in our Sales team, we’re also able to have technical conversations right from the start when discussing any complex requirements.

Build in contingencies

At the heart of customer service lies the timeless mantra of managing expectations. With any project there is likely to be an element of risk, and even with the most experienced teams at the helm, delays can be caused by external factors outside of anyone’s reasonable control.

Changes to the original brief by the end user, Principal Designer or Main Contractor can put pressure on deadlines, especially if for example drawings need to be amended, specifications updated and briefs re-issued.   Even the best brief can evolve during the project as site surveys are conducted or new requirements are identified as the project takes shape.

By building in reasonable contingencies at critical points in the project, Contractors can help projects flex without necessarily jeopardising the agreed deadline.  It’s also important to manage expectations by flagging early on if any major changes made by the client to the original brief will impact on cost or delivery.

At Hi-Level we have developed a proprietary computerised production system called iQD which uses just-in-time principals to manage quotes, production schedules, procurement and installation scheduling.  In addition, having an in-house design team makes it quicker and easier to control projects and manage any changes to the customer’s specification.

Robust in-house project management

Project management by the Contractor can make or break a construction project that is reliant on a network of different suppliers. The ability to collaborate with other stakeholders and work to project milestones is key.

Risk can be managed through effective in-house project management by each Contractor, with clear roles and responsibilities, robust processes and excellent communication between departments.

Regular project process meetings can help ensure all relevant parties are kept up-to-date, in addition to the regular communication with the Principal Designer, Main Contractor or end user.  A methodical, transparent approach to managing the process, from quote to delivery, with regular customer contact points, helps reduce risk, as does having an experienced team who can calmly and professionally handle challenges.

See our second article on risk management.

By allocating an experienced Hi-Level Project Manager to each project, we help to streamline communication both with our customers and colleagues, and our weekly in-house project meetings ensure we raise and address any issues quickly and efficiently.


About Hi-Level

Hi-Level is a leading designer, manufacturer and installer of bespoke mezzanine floors. We are committed to raising quality and safety standards and deliver value-engineered solutions to a wide range of sectors including industrial, commercial and retail.

Project Management Challenges Part 2 – Risk Management

In our first article we talked about the importance of delivering on time and ways in which to help avoid delays for the end user. In our second article about project management in the construction industry, we look at the topic of risk management specifically in relation to Contractors.

From cost control to adherence to the Health & Safety Act 1974, there is a plethora of areas to risk manage during a large construction project.  Whether you are a Principal Designer or Main Contractor, you want peace of mind that you have a team of professionals to safely deliver a high quality project on budget, on time.

Based on our experience of delivering mezzanine floor solutions for over 28 years, here are five ways in which Contractors can help you manage risk:

Adhere to quality standards

Evidence of quality standards are a clear benchmark of professionalism during the tender process.

ISO, the International Organisation for Standardisation, gives world-class specifications for products, services and systems across technology and manufacturing to ensure quality, safety and efficiency. Companies with ISO accreditation have been externally audited and have demonstrated their commitment to consistent improvement.

The ISO 9001:2015 standard is based on quality management principles including the process approach, continual improvement, strong customer focus and the motivation of top management.

Manufacturers also need CE accreditation to CE mark their products and sell them in the European Economic Area; it shows they confirm with health, safety and environmental protection standards.

Adhere to health & safety standards

OHSAS 18801, the Occupational Health and Safety Assessment Series is intended to help organisations control occupational health and safety risk and have a standard by which to be assessed and certificated. It helps organisations to achieve the best possible working conditions and workplace health and safety.

In addition, CHAS certified contractors have demonstrated compliance in line with SSIP core criteria and UK Health & Safety legislation.

At Hi-Level, we also supply a tailored RAMS booklet to every customer which clearly sets out our Risk Assessment and Method Statement for that particular project. This covers our onsite installation process and safety procedures as well as our comprehensive risk assessments and checklists.

Demonstrate commitment to safety on site

Invariably large construction projects will involve multiple suppliers on site, often within a busy warehouse where disruption to the end user needs to be kept to a minimum.

Regular, effective communication between stakeholders is crucial, especially when working in close proximity. This is particularly important when working at height. Installation of structural steel-work, for example, is intrinsically dangerous and accidents can occur from falls and structural instability during installation as well as the handling, listing and transporting of materials.

Hi-Level’s sub-contractors are regularly trained to ensure they operate safely and to a high standard and we select each installation team carefully depending on the complexity of the project and their experience. The site installation teams erect highly visible safety barriers, for example, on their staircases, so unless you have a permit you are not allowed to enter the area and walk on or below the mezzanine floor. 

Deliver on time

Hitting project milestones and delivering a complex project on time for the end user is a huge challenge for the Main Contractor, especially when liaising with a range of stakeholders including multiple Contractors.  See our separate article on how Contractors can help mitigate delays and deliver on time.

Join Constructionline

Contractors with Constructionline accreditation are pre-vetted via PAS 91, a standardised pre-qualification questionnaire developed by the British Standards Institute (BSI).  It gives confidence to Main Contractors that their Contractors have met pre-qualification requirements appropriate to public and private sector procurement.


About Hi-Level

Hi-Level designs, manufactures and installs bespoke mezzanine floor solutions across the UK and Europe. We act mainly as Contractor and have over 28 years of experience in delivering complex projects across a wide range of sectors including industrial, commercial and retail. We are a silver member of Constructionline, we are CHAS accredited and meet all relevant British and European standards including ISO 9001.

Leading UK Packaging Company Move into New Fulfilment Centre

The Challenge

Hi-Level partnered with a distributor to work with one of the leading packaging companies in the UK who are growing at a rapid pace into the international market. They moved into a newly built fulfilment centre in Bedfordshire, launching a next-day delivery service for hundreds of their products. Hi-Level were contracted to provide a bespoke mezzanine floor for storage and supporting conveyor systems.

One of the main challenges of the project was designing the mezzanine as the building structure evolved and ensuring seamless installation. In addition, a tight deadline was set that required us to finish the project promptly and efficiently.

The Criteria

The final requirements of the project were detailed as follows:

  • 16x35m² floor size
  • 5kN/m² point load
  • Ancillaries: 3 staircases and pallet gate
  • Fire protection

The Solution and Result

As the warehouse was undergoing various developments, our team worked closely with the client to ensure we could deliver the optimal mezzanine floor solution. We operated in a complex environment alongside other contractors installing a pallet racking system next to the mezzanine. This required a clear and concise project plan to minimise disruption to other workers and vice versa.

The floor was designed taking into consideration the addition of a conveyor system which would run through it. We also had to create adequate space for the storage of goods. Positioning of the columns was crucial as it ensured the mezzanine could confidently cope with high point loads and keep the ground floor access clear. In addition, we used our 38mm particle board as the decking option, hand railing customised per the client’s request and full fire protection. Ancillaries for the project included 3 staircases and a pallet gate to support with handling their large inventory of products.

As our client estimates further growth, we future-proofed the mezzanine design to enable additional tiers. Hi-Level were able to fulfil the project specifications within a quick turn around of three weeks, meeting our client’s timeline and budget.

“It’s always a pleasure when we can provide our client with a mezzanine floor solution to help with their challenges. Although we had to work within an evolving building structure against a short time frame, our team once again showed their ability to deliver an excellent service”.

John Davis – Hi-Level Commercial Director

Please get in touch with our sales team if you have any questions regarding previous projects.

 

Global Transport & Logistics Company Expand with New Warehouse Facility

The Challenge

Hi-Level were the selected mezzanine floor provider for a global transport and logistics company. The company recently built a new warehousing facility in Peterborough to further enhance services for their logistics division. Based on previous successful projects and our ability to execute design briefs, Butler & Willow partnered with us again to create a three-tier mezzanine area for handling goods and supporting lightweight conveyor systems. Hi-Level were faced with the challenge of providing flexible working space within a tight deadline.

The Criteria

The final requirements of the project were detailed as follows:

  • 1381m² floor area per tier (4143m² total)
  • 8kN/m² point load
  • 4 safety pallet gates per tier
  • 2 tower staircases
  • Ground floor column guard

The Solution and Result

The three floors were created to maintain their structural integrity across the entire mezzanine floor through crucial positioning of the columns. In addition, the ground floor area was kept brace free to provide maximum flexibility for storage. Ancillaries for the project included full edge protection, tower staircases for both utility and general access, as well as safety gates per tier to ensure goods could easily be moved between the mezzanine and pallet racking. As always, safety measures were taken to ensure the mezzanine was fit for purpose. Due to the busy nature of the warehouse, we installed our safety guard system to increase the level of protection for the columns upholding the mezzanine.

The build complied with the relevant building regulations and included full fire protection. Our expert team was able to execute a design which was both practical and efficient through meticulous planning and attention to detail.

We were able to finish installation within the allocated time frame of 6 weeks to the complete satisfaction of our client.

Testimonial

“Hi-Level has previously worked with our client in delivering a mezzanine solution for their warehouse operations. Our client partnering with us again is a testament to Hi-Level’s ongoing commitment to a high standard of workmanship and providing a quality service.”

Clyde Finch – Hi-Level Project Manager

Please get in touch with our sales team if you have any questions regarding previous projects.

Tips for Increasing Retail Shop Floor Capacity

Every foot of floor space counts in retail to maximise revenue. Optimising this space to its full potential can be challenging when balancing the desire to showcase your product range with creating an engaging customer experience.

Over the years, e-commerce has rapidly grown in popularity leaving some high-street retailers uncertain about the future of physical stores. Many factors have driven this change including speed of delivery, convenience and variety of product options available with online shopping. While the changing retail landscape can feel quite daunting, the demand for physical stores still stands. An article by Furity revealed high-street shoppers appreciated the tactile experience of handling products, social interaction and customer service. Instead of fearing about the effects e-commerce could have on their business, retailers are encouraged to adapt their stores to meet the changes in buying behaviour.

Our tips discuss how you can enhance your store to increase your capacity and improve your customers’ shopping experience:


Overcrowding Areas

Retailers who are limited in space may tend to overcrowd areas in a bid to show as much product as possible. However, an overcrowded shop floor can make it difficult for customers to find what they’re looking for and potentially drive them away.

Solution: Some simple solutions include displaying fewer items of each variation or prioritising best-selling products to free up your store. A greater remedy is integrating a mezzanine floor for premises with unused vertical space. Mezzanines create a new shop floor area which can also increase sales per square foot. The longer people stay in your location, the higher the chances they’ll make a purchase. Absolute Music integrated a mezzanine floor, creating two separate sales zones in-store and enabling them to better showcase their products.


Product Placement

In retail environments, the presentation of your shop floor is one of the first impressions customers have of your business. Your products may not have the chance to catch the public’s eye if they’re poorly placed. Ensuring you have a strategy in place and keeping an eye on your least and most popular products will avoid wasting precious floor space.

Solution: Being creative with your space is an effective way of keeping customers interested. The first stage is monitoring sales reports to prioritise which products deserve the best placement. Secondly, why not try using a variety of shelving, displays or creating different areas within your store? Keeping your customers captivated at every turn can go a long way. We designed a mezzanine area for Jollyes Pet Food to house a small grooming facility whilst the ground floor was open and spacious to showcase products.


Lack of Storage

Overcrowded areas can often be a result of lack of storage. Whilst the front of house is mainly prioritised, the back of house is equally as important for storage and maintaining stock levels.

Solution: The more stock you can keep in-house, the easier it is to constantly replenish shelves and give customers what they want. We provided DKNY with additional storage space to keep up with their growing demands.  Our mezzanine floors can support heavy loads and shelving to ensure you maximise your premises.



How Hi-Level Can Help

We have transformed a variety of retail stores across the UK through the installation of bespoke mezzanine floors. Our designs are all uniquely created to suit the exact needs and requirements of a business, giving them optimal space to maximise sales.

We understand the importance of having both a functional back-of-house and visually appealing aesthetics on the shop floor. Our industrial mezzanines are designed to cope with all heavy-duty equipment or storage. For the front of house, we provide our feature mezzanine range, executed to the highest standard with stainless steel glass handrail. Regardless of your business type, full customisation is available from the steps and handrails to the flooring.

Call our sales team today for how our mezzanine solutions could transform your retail space.

UV Technology Experts Hanovia Maximise Warehouse for Additional Storage

The Challenge

Hi-Level worked with Hanovia UV Ltd to supply, deliver and install a single level mezzanine structure as an additional practical space to their ground floor. Our client has been at the forefront in developing and building highly efficient UV technology systems. Their operations centre in Slough had unused vertical space, thus a mezzanine was the ideal solution to help facilitate their growth and boost productivity.

Hanovia had to maintain their normal operating hours throughout the installation and a schedule had to be devised to ensure we completed the project on time with minimal disruption.

The Criteria

The final requirements of the project were detailed as follows:

  • 299m² mezzanine floor area
  • 7.5km² load bearing for storage
  • One-hour fire protection
  • LED lighting and small power

The Solution and Result

Our designers developed a bespoke mezzanine which was seamlessly integrated into Hanovia’s warehouse. A key aspect of the specification was strategically placing the columns to avoid obstruction to their existing pallet racking storage and regular operations. The 38mm particle board was used for the project, a popular choice for environments where strength and durability are essential whilst also being cost effective. Per our client’s request, the board was covered in linoleum to increase the durability of the floor, ease maintenance and improve the final aesthetic look. In addition, ancillaries for the project included a specialised pallet gate for bulky goods, general access and utility staircases and full edge protection. Such ancillaries had a blue powder coated finish to suit Hanovia’s brand colours.

We complied with Building Regulations to provide a suspending ceiling for up to one-hour fire protection. This was complimented by LED lighting on the underside for ease of use.

Hi-Level’s close-knit team of experts successfully created a bespoke design, unique to Hanovia’s premises and specific requirements. Hanovia requested a quick turnover which was met from point of order to installation, ensuring minimal disruption to their operations. As a result, we were pleased to have completed the project promptly to our client’s absolute satisfaction.

Hi-Level Project Manager Comments

“This project was a testament to Hi-Level’s ongoing commitment to a high standard of workmanship and providing a quality service. Our team worked closely with our client to deliver a future-proof solution to their space challenges.”

Adrian Williams – Hi-Level Project Manager

For more information on any of our projects, call our sales team today.

Running out of Warehouse Space? 3 Benefits of Not Relocating

60% of warehouses are now used by retailers, with food production and pharmaceutical industries storing extra supplies ahead of Brexit (Via BBC). Such pressures have directly contributed to a near doubling in demand for storage space, especially in the past year. As the UK gears up for Brexit and the crunch for capacity surges, considering your next plan of action is essential. Our 3 key points provide a rundown of why you may not need to relocate or buy more space and the most practical solution for you.


1st Benefit: Productivity Losses

One of the biggest points to consider is how you will keep your warehouse efficiently running during the transition phase. Every second counts with customers and jeopardising your operations could be a recipe for disaster. For example, ASOS minimised any disruption by keeping increasing storage capacity within their existing distribution centre.

 

 


2nd Benefit: Budget & Cost of Relocating

According to IBISWorld, the cost of industrial production facilities is anticipated to rise as consumers continue to spend. Rent prices are a discouraging factor for many businesses and purchasing additional premises can be very costly. Instead, companies such as Jaguar Land Rover have been able to boost their work performance by re-configuring their existing space for additional storage.

 

 


3rd Benefit: Lack of Availability  

As a result of the UK’s insatiable appetite for e-commerce and pressures to stockpile goods, the rate of available warehouses is gradually decreasing. Recent articles have shown premises are filling up as online retail sales boom and suppliers prepare for all possible contingencies in the build-up to Brexit (Via The Guardian). Such events have meant the market has become more competitive with relocating becoming a high-risk option.

 

 


Solution

  • Assessing your existing space is the first stage in elevating your premises. Small changes such as creating room for racking can boost how much stock you are able to store and be the initial step in reducing costs.
  • Maximising your interior structure with separate floors/rooms can be greatly beneficial in making your business more efficient. The addition of a new mezzanine floor could help optimise your vertical space for storage, stock control or employee workspace.

How Hi-Level Can Help

Our mezzanine floors are uniquely designed to be a practical addition in any business premises. Their robust configuration can take extremely high point loads and can be used for holding conveyer systems, heavy-duty machines or automation systems. Regardless of the size of your project, our floors provide the optimal solution for expanding production in your warehouse. Our expect project managers have assisted many leading companies in designing a mezzanine floor to drive new opportunities.

Contact our sales team today

Warehouse Storage Ideas – Organising Stock Ahead of Brexit

Having an integrated warehouse system is essential for smooth and efficient business operations. With Brexit bringing uncertainty to such operations, preparing your stock and resources for any possible outcome can keep your warehouse successfully running. Here are some ideas on how to boost your storage.


Pallet Racking

These multi-level systems are commonly accompanied with a mezzanine floor. The floor provides a rigid structure for the racks to be stored comfortably, giving you maximum storage space and easing the process of retrieving goods. We were the leaders behind one of the UK’s tallest, free standing mezzanine which supported the addition of pallet racking and boosted our client’s production area.


Multi-tiered Flexibility

Arranging your work operations into different levels can have exceptional benefits on your business’s productivity levels. Many premises have unused vertical space that can be transformed into productive areas. Different floors can be used for new systems, additional storage or even office space. The possibilities are endless when you have optimal space to be flexible with your business.


Automation Machinery

Automation systems are gradually appearing in more warehousing premises. Such change has created a demand for space solutions on how to strategically store heavy machinery and equipment. Mezzanine floors can be fabricated from concrete composite or steel to take very high point loads. Such rigid composition can provide full functionality for any complex machines you may have. You can make your warehouse both practical and efficient.


Stockpiling

The increasing concerns about Brexit and shortage in warehouses has led many companies to stockpile. Food and pharmaceutical industries are encouraged to be creative with their spaces in order to cause minimal disruption to customers. A mezzanine floor area enables extra stock in your warehouse, ensuring you can stay on top of operations.


Filing Documents

As your business operations grow, it becomes more important to store sensitive data in a safe and secure way. An organised system which provides filing space for all your physical documents is essential. Mezzanine flooring can give you a convenient area to archive and access important resources at complete ease.

 

Please contact our sales team for further information about how mezzanine flooring could provide an ideal storage solution.

International Electronics Supplier Expands Operations to New Heights

The Challenge

We were the selected mezzanine floor provider for an international supplier and manufacturer in the electronics industry. As the company continues to dominate their market, they required a mezzanine floor area to elevate their operations to new heights in Warrington.

Maintaining productivity levels was essential to the client and their ongoing work during warehouse operating hours. In addition, the existing shelving units could not be disturbed or dismantled during the installation process.

The Criteria

The final requirements of the project were detailed as follows:

  • 138m² mezzanine floor area
  • 4.8kN/m² load bearing for storage
  • Minimal disruption to productivity
  • Safety pallet gates for handling heavy goods
  • Custom colour to match corporate identity

The Solution and Result

Our engineers worked closely with our client to provide a bespoke mezzanine that could comfortably sit above their existing shelving units to create a new functional loading area. Using our standard 38mm particle board, our floor was the perfect affordable and practical solution for their storage plans.  As always, we provided full customised options to the industrial general access staircase, edge-protection system and pallet gates for all their heavy loading. Following our client’s request, each of the ancillaries were finished in a vibrant yellow powder coating with full gloss retention.

The project was expertly wrapped up in two days as our installers worked alongside the client’s team during their operating hours. As a result of close communication throughout the project, we were able to fulfil their specifications to our continuous high-quality standards within the allocated time.

Client Operations Manager Comments

“Hi-Level were very efficient with little disruption to the warehouse working practices”

Please get in touch with our sales team if you have any questions regarding previous projects.

 

IntraLogisteX 2019

Dates:            Tuesday 26th to Wednesday 27th February 2019

Venue:           Ricoh Arena, Coventry

Stand:            422

Join Hi-Level at the fastest-growing annual exhibition for the intralogistics industry, covering all key aspects of your business operations. The two-day event will be packed with everything practitioners need to improve productivity, safety, maximise space and cut costs.

Come and meet our team of experts who will be at hand to provide the most effective and practical space-boosting solutions. Attendees will have the opportunity for all their burning questions to be answered with genuine ideas for improvement. With nearly 28 years in experience working with storage, warehousing and distribution facilities, our team can confidently support you with all space-related challenges.

Visit us at stand 422 as we look forward to hearing all your ideas and comments!

Click here for your free registration

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What our clients say

“Hi-Level’s willingness to engage with us to identify the project requirements and to make positive suggestions which finally convinced us that they were the right partner for this critical project”.
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