Efficiency and adaptability are important concerns when planning new construction or renovations. Rising costs of commercial space and rapidly evolving business practices make it mandatory to look to the future in the planning stage. Storage considerations are an important component of any plan, not only because storage consumes, on average, 21 percent of total floor space, but because of its impact on efficiency and productivity. High-density mobile storage is a solution that optimizes space today while providing the flexibility to accommodate future needs.
The concept behind mobile storage is simple: Storage units mounted on carriages and rails compact to eliminate aisles and maximize space. Mobile systems are available in four types: manual, mechanical, powered, and programmable powered. Each offers a different level of features and density.
When to Consider Mobile Storage
Although virtually any facility can benefit from high-density mobile storage, it’s especially desirable in the following situations:
Space is at a premium. A mobile storage system provides twice the capacity of stationary shelving, or frees up half the space for other activities.
On-site storage is essential. With a mobile system, more items can be stored on-site, often in the department where they are used, making it easier to serve customers and access and monitor materials.
Item security must be maintained. Companies that store and monitor the use of confidential or sensitive information can choose code-access or remote control features. Powered mobile systems can be tied into a fire alarm or building management system to minimize physical damage in the event of a catastrophe.
Flexibility is important. Mobile systems can store a wide variety of items in one unit and are easily reconfigured as needs change. Companies that rearrange floor plans frequently may want to consider a top-of-the-floor system, which can be easily moved from one space to another.
What to Consider When Specifying
After making the decision to “go mobile,” consider the following when choosing and installing the system:
The ability to reuse existing storage units. The best mobile systems can incorporate storage units from any manufacturer.
Available space and required capacity. Small spaces and lighter loads are often best matched with manual or mechanical assist systems; powered systems are typically the best fit in larger spaces or for heavier items.
ADA requirements. Powered systems provide easier access for all users with features such as push-button entry; adjustable, aisle-width openings; and automatic, passive aisle-blocking features.
System users. Manual mobile systems may be a good option if access is limited; mechanical assist and powered systems are a better choice for areas with public access.
Turnkey solutions. Choose a supplier who can provide an on-site needs analysis, engineering and design assistance, customized construction, and system installation and maintenance.
Floor loading. Increased capacity means increased floor weight. To ensure a floor can accommodate the additional weight, work with a structural engineer licensed to practice in the state where the system is being installed.
Christopher T. Batterman (firstname.lastname@example.org) is director of marketing at Fort Atkinson, WI-based Spacesaver Corp. (www.spacesaver.com), a leading manufacturer of high-density mobile storage systems.