The booming logistics sector is pivotal to the growth of the UK economy – but success brings its own challenges.
The so-called Golden Triangle of logistics stretches between the M1, M6 and M42 motorways, from Birmingham in the west to Nottingham and Derby in the north. From here it’s possible to deliver to more than 90% of the UK population within four hours as distribution centres put businesses within easy reach of major motorways, ports, railways and airports. The upshot is stark: warehouse real estate in this area comes at an absolute premium.
That’s where mezzanine floors come in, allowing logistics operators to double, triple or even quadruple their usable space without the expense and inconvenience of moving to new premises.
Here are our 5 top benefits of mezzanines for logistics:
1. Mezzanine floors are scalable and primed for automation. They are perfect for growing 3PL businesses, allowing companies to start with a few robots and scale up. According to 3PL Central’s 2022 Benchmark Report, major challenges for the industry include many warehouses operating above capacity and operational efficiency, while labour shortages and labour costs are leading to increased automation. Logistics firms are increasingly investing in robotics to store, manage and dispatch products.
For online retail giant ASOS, for example, Hi-Level Mezzanines installed a three-tier mezzanine to create space for several new conveyor systems, provide additional storage and streamline the automation process inside its current distribution centre. Industry demands are why we have also developed our unique Hi-Tile robot-ready flooring able to withstand the stringent requirements of robotics.
As Bill Somerton, Solutions Director at Bisham Consulting, and a leading Logistics director and Consultant, says: “When warehouses include robotic operations the Logistics Director needs to work with the mezzanine supplier to ensure a suitable robot-ready floor surface is fitted, something robust enough to take the robots’ weight and hardwearing so that they will not gouge grooves into the floor. Hi-Level Mezzanines’ robot-ready flooring, Hi Tile is a good example.”
2. Relieving the pressure of geography. Intense pressure for warehouse space in the Golden Triangle is leading our clients to take the only reasonable solution – install a mezzanine. While there may be c. 150 million square feet (14 million m2) of warehouse space in the Midlands – more than Greater London, Wales and Scotland combined – vacancy rates have hit record lows of under 2%, compared to 7% a year before, according to research by Knight Frank reported in LogisticsManager.
Mezzanines are the answer to intensive demand and premium cost, allowing our clients to side-step the crisis in warehouse property by making the very best use of their existing space so they can service customer demand into the future. An example is how we installed two two-tier mezzanines over 14,000 m2 in total for Global Reach Logistics in Daventry, with shelving to put the space to its full potential.
3. Avoiding global instability and supply chain crises. Rather than be at the mercy of unexpected shortages, missing supply deliveries, last-minute substitutes and quality failures, our clients have installed mezzanines so they can keep more stock on site.
Moving away from pre-Covid “Just in Time” business models, they are turning to “Just in Case” models to avoid the disruption caused by events such as the war in Ukraine, the pandemic and the turbulence of Brexit. Creating more space in your premises to hold more stock allows you to better withstand supply chain fluctuations, with the reassurance of being able to keep serving customers even while competitors flounder.
Building contractor Magrock invited Hi-Level to tender for a mezzanine for Clipper Logistics, a UK leading logistics solutions company, the result was exemplary:
“Hi-Level were appointed to carry out a single-storey extension within a live warehouse environment. The project was delivered on time and to a high standard throughout. This was our first project with Hi-Level and we would not hesitate using them again as their attitude from tendering the project through to completing the works was second to none.” David Brewer, Construction Director – Magrock
4. Increasing consumer demand and expectations. Pre-millennials reading this will remember the days of ordering goods from newspaper ads that warned: “Allow 28 days for delivery.” Today’s consumers want their purchases in 24 hours, if not the same day. It means logistics businesses need to expand to meet this intense demand.
An example is how Hi-Level was the selected mezzanine floor provider for a global transport and logistics company that had built a new warehousing facility in Peterborough to enhance services for its 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. Read here how Hi-Level rose to the challenge of providing flexible working space within a tight deadline.
5. Sustainability. Mezzanines help logistics firms meet their sustainability goals by allowing them to receive stock from suppliers in one bulk order then hold onto stock longer so they can be more efficient in their delivery schedule, saving CO2 impact by re-organising routes and delivering less frequently. Rather than ordering a small truck of goods to arrive once a week, they are placing a bigger order once a month. It makes sense both for carbon footprint and reducing costs.
If you’d like to know more about how mezzanine floors can future-proof your logistics business, get in touch at email@example.com or call 01730 237 190.