May 22nd, 2023 | 3PL, eCommerce, Logistics

Introducing a mezzanine floor and what it means for your WMS

Shot of legs wearing red shoes climbing open tread industrial stairs

Introducing a mezzanine floor and what it means for your WMS

Shot of legs wearing red shoes climbing open tread industrial stairs

What do you do if business is good and you’re outgrowing your current warehouse space? Before browsing for commercial property in your area the first option is often to take a fresh look at your existing warehouse space and consider whether a mezzanine floor might work for you.

The installation of a mezzanine floor needs careful planning, if it’s not done right it has the potential to significantly disrupt your warehouse operations. However, it may well be less disruptive and potentially much more cost-effective than moving to new premises. As with every significant business change, the key to success is in good project management and a careful consideration of all the implications.

One aspect of the project that is often overlooked until the final stages is the demands the new mezzanine will place on your Warehouse Management System. You should expect your WMS to be able to support your new business processes through configuration rather than custom development but it’s important to discuss your requirements with your WMS supplier at an early stage in the project and make it clear what you need.

If your WMS isn’t able to allow for the fact that your stock is no longer held in  single contiguous space the efficiency of all your key warehouse opeations will be compromised. At it’s most basic your pickers will spend all their time running up and down stairs or sending totes between the two levels. With this in mind, the cost of not asking your WMS supplier if they have the tools and strategies to cope with a mezzanine floor, can be alarmingly high.

Take the following example of a mid-range e-tailer with a mezzanine floor looking to pick an order pool of 1000. With the right WMS software, it should be easy to identify the multi-line orders where all the items are located at ground level and the ones where everything is available in the mezzanine. The very simple apporach can dramatically reduce the number of picks tht are spread across both areas.

Alternatively, consider a consolidation process. This allows picking from different areas to be performed as efficiently as possible, the items are brought together in a consolidation area before being prestented to the pack process. Another option is to provide a handheld process that allows a picking cart or tote to be sent between the areas, typically by a conveyor, the process allows any user to continue the pick by scanning the cart when it arrives in their area.

Effective WMS software can also tell you where to put away incoming deliveries so that the distribution of stock supports an efficient picking process. This putaway logic, also known as product slotting, should allow you to enforce whaever rules you define for the mezzanine, perhaps ensuring that heavy items are always held on the ground floor and your most popular SKUs are spread across both areas. The picking logic will therefore always be optimised for split-floor operations.

In short, warehouse operators looking to increase their picking face by installing a mezzanine floor can avoid any potential pitfalls by making sure their WMS software is up to the job and their software supplier is part of the project.

Are you thinking of investing in a mezzanine floor? Please drop us a line – we’d love to chat and discuss your WMS needs further.