Author Archives: Derick

Better Options For Lift Out Gates

An old lift out gate in the wild.

I have a confession to make.  I really don’t like lift out gates.  Every time a customer asks me to put in a lift out gate on their platform, I get a sour taste in my mouth.  Today I want to talk a little about why I dislike them so much, and what other options exist.

Why I Dislike Lift Out Gates

My beef with lift out gates largely boils down to one thing:  safety. Lift out gate are surprisingly heavy. A 6′ wide lift out weldment weighs approximately 180 lbs.  They are large weldments and can be removed with a forklift. Asking your employees to remove one by hand is asking them to stand over the edge of the abyss and lift up an anchor.  It’s just not a safe option.  

If you are not removing them by forklift, there are a few things you can do to minimize the risk.  Your workers should tie off anytime they are manually removing or replacing the gate. They should grab a partner and lift the gate out in pairs.  If at all possible, I’d also recommend keeping the individual gates under 4′ wide each. The best thing we can do though, is recommend a different gate solution.

What Might Work Better

There are typically two main reasons why customers ask for a lift out gate: price and access.  Let’s look at these reasons and see if there’s something better we can recommend.

3-rail style bi-parting swing gate

A bi-parting swing gate like this would be safer and more cost effective then two small lift out sections of railing.

Probably the most common reason customers ask for a lift out gate is price.  They are hoping to save a buck and go with the least expensive option. A single lift out gate is the least expensive gate we can offer, but not by much.  A 6′ bi-parting swing gate is only a couple hundred dollars more than a single 6′ lift out gate, and is actually less expensive than a pair of 3′ wide lift out gates.  When looking at the overall cost of the platform, this is an extremely minor difference. If you have the space available, our standard pivoting mezzanine safety gate is only a couple hundred dollars more than the bi-parting swing gate and will always keep a line of safety railing between your workers and the edge.  If you’re trying to keep costs down as much as possible, these are the two gates I’d be looking at.

Vertical mezzanine gate in raised position

A vertical lifting mezzanine gate like this can have up to a 16′ clear opening, and we can set them up to share columns if you were hoping to have access across multiple adjacent bays.

Most of the other times a customer is requesting lift out gates, it has something to do with the flexibility of the access.  Perhaps they have something fairly large that they will need to put up on the deck. We can do a vertical lifting mezzanine gate that has a clear opening up to 16′ wide.  Perhaps the customer wanted to be able to access all across the front of the platform as opposed to funneling everything through one or two gate openings.  There is nothing stopping us from adding more gates all along the front.

Removable Railings

removable railing weldments

Sure we could do a removable rail using lift out gates, but these weldments are heavy and the price adds up quickly.

The only time we couldn’t solve the access issue with more gates or longer gates is if the object the customer is sending through the gate is longer than 16′.   If this is a frequent occurrence and you’re not able to crane the material onto the deck, then a line of lift out gates would be the best solution we currently have to offer.  

But what if this is one of those “blue moon” occurrences?  In this case, I would recommend you forgo the lift out gates and save yourself a significant amount of money.  Our typical 2-rail handrail is composed of hoops that are screwed into clips on uprights roughly every 8′. You can unscrew the hoops from the saddle clips. You can unbolt the uprights from the face of the mezzanine. We can design the railing to utilize smaller hoops so it’s easier to lift out individual sections. We can change our kick plate so it connects the uprights as opposed to the framing below the decking.  This way it’s not too difficult to remove and reattach the railing should you need to without the added expense of all the weldment sections.

So next time you’re thinking of putting in a lift out gate, let’s discuss it and see if we might be able to come up with a better solution.

Using the Roof of a Modular Office for Storage

office with storage above

The main purpose of the roof deck in a modular building is to form a membrane that holds the whole system together. Due to cost considerations, we typically design them with enough load capacity to support the lights and acoustical ceiling.  That doesn’t always have to be the case though. We can also design it so that the roof of your building can be used for light storage. I recently got some photos back on a project where the customer wanted to do just that.

top view

It was a pretty cluttered area, so hopefully the load bearing roof will give them some breathing room.

The customer wanted to put in an office for the maintenance manager and his team in order to cut down on the noise.  The corner of the facility where they were situated was already pretty cluttered and they didn’t want to lose any more space back there, so they came to us in hopes of putting in a modular office with enough load capacity on the roof to use it for long-term light storage.

interior wall with reception window

The sliding reception window allows the employees to easily communicate between offices.

The office was 20′ wide by 12′ deep.  They wanted to break it into two separate 10’x12′ offices, but they wanted to make it easy to communicate between offices, so we put in an internal partition wall with a sliding reception window.  

recessed beam hangers

Modular wall panels with structural connectors and hangers to support the recessed beams.

There were a few things we needed to do in order to support a 100 PSF live load on the deck. We needed to put 10″ c-sections spanning from the front to the back of the building attached to hangers in the ceiling plenum.  To support these c-sections, we used structural panel connectors between our wall panels as opposed to our typical tongue and groove or I-spline connections. While we could have gone with a 2-wall system due to the modular office’s location in the corner, we put a third wall along the back to support the c-sections instead of dropping columns to save the customer a little money as well.  Due to the size of the recessed c-sections we went with 9′ tall panels so the customer could maintain a 8′ clearance height in the room.

beam in the ceiling

A structural c-section was recessed into the ceiling plenum at every panel connection.

There were a few things we needed to do on top of the deck as well to finish it off.  We covered the corrugated roof deck with OSB so that the customer would have a smooth walking surface above.  We also fabricated and installed some surface mounted handrail and kick plate, as well as a spring loaded access gate to keep their workers from falling off the edge when moving around on the roof.  You would also need to put in a staircase to access the system, but the customer told us they were going to take care of their own egress.

looking onto the load bearing roof

The surface mounted handrail will help keep workers safe when moving around on top of the office

The system went together nice and quick.  Mechanical and electrical installation took a little less than a week, and the customer was really pleased with his new office. Now they just need to start moving things to the roof.

New Product: The Dock Defender Gate

Single rail defender dock gate - closed position

Spring is on its way.  Sunshine. Warmer weather. A gentle breeze carrying the scent of blossoms.  And along with it, a tendency to leave the loading dock doors open. But along with that fresh air also comes the risk of injury for your employees.  It’s a good idea to start thinking about how we can keep our employees from falling through those open dock doors.

A couple years back we introduced our current version of the loading dock gate.  Its compact, easy to use design protects your employees with a line of 2-rail handrail per OSHA.  But what about areas that have heavy fork truck traffic? OSHA handrail is designed to hold back a person leaning on it, but it’s not going to offer much resistance to a rolling fork truck.

opening single rail defender dock gate

After releasing the latch, the dock defender gate folds in half and swings out of the way.

Allow me to introduce the newest gate in our product line: the dock defender gate.  This heavy-duty gate system has been tested to stop a 13,500 lb fork truck moving at 6.5 mph.  Plus, when you need access, it folds in half and swings out of the way. It has either a single 42″ high beam or a double beam set up for additional security.  Standard opening widths are available in 6′, 8′, 9′, 10′, and 12′, but custom opening widths are available up to 16′. The dock defender gate ships out quickly in three pieces with all required hardware (including wedge anchors), making for a quick and easy installation.

2-rail defender dock gate

The Dock Defender gate si also available in a two rail configuration.

So go ahead.  Leave the doors open and enjoy the fresh air.  Let’s just do it in a safe manner.

Using modular building panels to create a CMM enclosure

Finished CMM enclosure

Modular building panels can be used to provide a cleaner environment for your shop equipment.

CMM, or coordinate measuring machines, are a piece of equipment that uses a physical or laser probe to map out the geography of an object.  They are very precise machines and need to be kept in a clean and often temperature controlled environment. I recently had a customer who found this out the hard way when the dust in the air due to production was messing with his machine, so he contacted us looking for an equipment enclosure.

Using modular building panels, we designed a 16′ deep by 20′ wide four wall enclosure.  Due to the maximum height of the mast on the CMM, the customer needed a lot of available head room in the area, so we stacked panels up to 13′ using the A-wall 300 system, leaving us 12’6″ of available head room under the drop ceiling and recessed lights. The customer wanted a way to easily remove the CMM if he needed to in the future, but didn’t want to put in a large door. In order to facilitate this, we put in a 8′ wide by 9′ high removable panel assembly using a tubular steel “goal post” and some additional trim pieces, so if he did need to move the equipment he would just need to remove the extra trim pieces on the outside and pop put the panels. The customer wanted a lot of windows in the enclosure, and since the A-Wall modular building system’s windows are factory installed right into the panel as a single piece, we were able to put one in every 4′ panel (aside from the one with the HVAC system) that wasn’t facing their wall, including the two removable panels. We also outfitted the room with Flex-4 modular wiring inside the wall panels in order to save the customer money on the electrical installation.

CMM enclosure removable panel opening

The removable panels provide the customer with easy access to the equipment should they need it.

Upon contacting us, the customer was looking for a quick solution.  After receiving the order we were able to send him approval drawings the next day.   He was able to quickly turn around the approved drawings so we were able to ship it out to him in two weeks.  The installation took a two man crew two days to complete. Twenty two days after we received the PO, the customer had this great looking equipment enclosure assisting with the smooth operation of the CMM.

The #900 Stair Tread with Riser

We’ve got an announcement! New things are coming to the Floor-Mat Store! We are currently in the process of replacing our Uno-Tread 901 stair tread and riser combo, and bringing production of them back into the states! You will still be able to get the same beautiful, seamless design you have come to expect, but now with our new replacement tread #900 the colors will match with all of our other treads and landing tiles. That means you will be able to coordinate the color pallet across all of your staircases with the new colors, whether they are closed or open risers. Ultimately leaving you with a far more professional and cohesive look.

Our replacement #900 Tread will come in color series 1 and 3. These are made to order with a usual lead time of around four weeks.

For those of you who already have the Uno-Tread 901 series tread, you may want to consider ordering a few extras while we still have some on the shelves. Whatever we still have in stock is all that is left, and a preemptive order of a couple could save you having to redo your entire stair system should one of your steps start to show wear. For quoting on the #900 tread call in or email at (330)650-5561 X: 401 – sales@floormatstore.com

Working around an Obstruction with Modular Wall Panels

Modular building with existing building column in the way

Looking to expand your modular office, but that I-beam is in the way of the wall panels?

One of the greatest advantages of using modular wall panels for your in-plant offices is their ability to easily change and grow as your needs change.  Back in 2010, we provided a customer with a 20’x12’ modular in-plant office with an internal wall, splitting the space into two separate offices.  A few years later they decided to rearrange the wall panels, taking out the dividing wall and creating one large office space.  Earlier this year, the customer contacted us again looking to further expand upon the room, adding an additional 16’ to the system.  This is an easy modification to make.  Typically you would just disassemble the end 12’ wall, add four new 4’ modular wall panels to each of the 20’ long walls, and then close it back off with the existing 12’ end.   But this extension offered a little twist that I thought we could talk about today.  There was an I-beam right where the wall panels would go through.

Using angle and an internal steel stud to tie a modular wall panel to  an I-beam

Conceptual sketch showing how the wall panels would be secured to the I-beam

If the wall panels fall between the flanges, the most cost effective method would be to terminate the wall on both sides of the webbing and secure it to the I-beam using some 1”x6” angle and an internal stud.  This is not the cleanest method though, as the I-beam appears to cut through the wall and typically leaves a gap in the grid ceiling inside the I-beam.

conceptual model of using modular wall panels to box around an obstruction

Conceptual sketch showing how the wall panels can could be used to box out the I-beam

In this particular case the flange of the I-beam lined up with the outer sheet of gyp-board, creating an obstruction.   Because of this we simply boxed around the I-beam with wall panels, closing it off.  While this method requires a bit more in the way of materials, it allows for a very clean and uniform appearance.

modular wall panels boxing out an obstruction

The view from inside the finished modular office extension.

Drain Thru Rubber Matting for Snowy Entrances

Winter is fast approaching, and for many of us that means frigid cold temperatures, snow, and dangerous ice.

All around me I see neighbors battening down hatches to prepare for a long and dark few months. However, preparations aside from plastic window coverings often go forgotten. With the holidays just around the corner, many of us have family on our minds, and it personally has me worried about slip prevention, especially for our youngest and oldest members.

Solutions to combat slipping can be time consuming as well as expensive; luckily, there are many simple preventive measures that can be taken to ease this worry. In my opinion, the simplest preventative measure is a drain thru mat for each of your entryways — and don’t forget your garage entrance after all of that snow shoveling!

Our Olympian series drain thru mats are 100% recycled material made from trim rubber used in tire manufacturing.

Olympian series drain thru rubber mats

These mats are built to withstand the most extreme conditions. While other drain thru mats will crack and fall apart with the cold, these will last and last and last. Olympian mats show no visible cracks or fractures in temperatures as low as -45 degrees Fahrenheit! Then when the spring and summer months come, there is no need for them to be replaced, as our Olympian series shows no signs of deterioration at even 400 degrees Fahrenheit! Whether it’s hot or cold, this mat is built to take it!

detail of drain thru rubber mat

We are already late in the year, and while most slip prevention projects require tedious installation and warmer temperature for adhesives to adhere, this mat is heavy enough to simply be laid out, while still being light enough to hang dry when needed.

The New Pallet Rack Gate System: Improving the Safety on Your Pick Units and Pallet Rack Mezzanines

pallet rack gates protecting two bays of pallet rack

The Pallet Rack Gate automatically closes off the edge as the pallet clears the bay, protecting your employees.

We’ve been adding a number of gates to our mezzanine gate collection over the past year. Today I’d like to take a minute to talk about another of our newly added gates:  the Pallet Rack Gate.

The Pallet Rack Gate System is a self-closing gate designed to improve the safety of your pick modules with pallet flow systems or pallet rack based mezzanines, and are designed to meet or exceed OSHA railing standard 1910.23(a)(2) with a 42” high gate and mid-rail.  

As the name implies, it is specifically designed to integrate with your existing pallet rack. The universal hinge post brackets of the gate connect to the uprights of your pallet rack via U-bolts, minimizing the footprint of the gate, while allowing for an easy installation in minutes without the need for drilling.  The gates are designed to fit standard 60” wide or 96” openings in your rack system, but custom sizes are available. If you need something special we’ll be happy to look into it.

Then protecting multiple bays of rack, the intermediate gates would share a bracket at each upright to minimize the cost

The intermediate sections of the Pallet Rack Gate system combine both a left and right gate on a shared hinge bracket, minimizing the cost.

The gates are available as a single left gate with hinge bracket, a single right gate with hinge bracket, or if covering multiple connected bays of pallet rack, both a left and right gate connected to a shared hinge post bracket.  This helps keep the footprint and your costs down by minimizing the amount of material required.    

These gates are designed to stand up to the rigors of heavy use and require little to no maintenance.  They are constructed out of durable mild steel and have a safety yellow powder coat finish baked on.  The four stainless steel torsion spring hinges connected to each gate assure a safe and reliable operation.

The Pallet Rack Gate System is a simple, durable, and cost effective method of increasing the safety on your existing pallet rack mezzanine systems and pick units.  Give us a call and we’ll be happy to assist in laying out the design of the gates and working up a quote.  And if you’re looking to protect the base of your pallet rack from fork truck damage, or looking for a pallet rack itself, we’ll be happy to help with that as well.

Vinyl Bollard Covers Keep Your Bollards Looking New

 

old weathered bollards

These rusty bollards could use some sprucing up

Winter is beginning to subside. The snow and ice are melting away and all sorts of things are being unearthed — some terrifying. I’m talking about your bollards of course. And they look horrible. Everyone has been out and about enjoying the warmth, but they are also seeing some really nasty weather stricken bollards. Sure you are thinking, “Well I’ll just get someone out to paint that again,” just like every other year. But the fact of the matter is, between now and then, your business is looking shabby, and you are continually paying for product and labor just to keep up. I’m sure we have all heard the saying “Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.” This statement stands true for a lot more than just our personal appearance. I’m far more likely to feel confident about a bank handling my money that looks well maintained than one that has peeling paint and layers of rust. Sunlight and moisture can cause serious damage to bollards, and quickly. The more nicked and flaky they look, the less and less professional the establishment looks, leaving people less likely to trust the service you are providing them.

 

color chart for vinyl bollard covers and sleeves

Available in 10 standard colors, our vinyl bollard covers will help your bollards stand out in a good way.

There are so many benefits to a good bollard cover that I find it difficult understanding why I ever see them without one. Not only does it quickly (and I mean quickly as it often takes about a minute for installation) enhance the aesthetic of your business, but it can also keep your company’s name looking good. Vinyl bollard covers are some of my favorite for the simple reason that they are durable. If one of your trucks comes into contact with a bollard, it easily results in scratches, and even dents. A vinyl cover adds surprisingly effective impact protection. No longer are your vehicles getting an unwanted makeover by a solid metal pole; instead, they now have a sturdy bit of cushion that can far better absorb blunt force impacts. No more scraped rusty bollards, and no more scraped rusty trucks.

In the time that it takes you to tie your shoes, you can easily have eliminated years of maintenance, all while helping cement your place in your customer’s confidence. Your rusted bollards look horrible; it’s time to cover them up.

-Reese @ Floormatstore.com

Two Wall and Three Wall In-Plant Offices

two wall modular building system

Two wall in-plant office system utilizing the customer’s existing block walls

Many of the in-plant offices we provide customers are located around the perimeter of their building, and we are often asked about the possibility of utilizing the existing wall.  Depending on the site conditions, a two or three wall system could offer a significant cost savings versus a typical four wall in-plant office.  Today, I’d like to talk a little about how an in-plant office can utilize your existing building walls and some of the factors to consider if a two or three wall modular building system is a good fit for your space.

Panelized building system connecting to existing block wall

By utilizing the customer’s existing block wall, they were able to design a row of offices along the back wall of their facility without needing to reroute their existing lines

One thing to consider when thinking about designing a two or three wall in-plant office is what kind of walls are in place.  If we are going to utilize your existing walls, we are going to need to tie into them in a couple different places.  We will need to attach a piece of channel called a wall start from the floor to the top of the panel, wherever the panel would connect to the building wall.  As we typically use a corrugated roof deck to form the membrane that holds the building together, we will also need to attach an angle along the enclosed length of the wall at the panel height.  Because of this, the walls need to be substantial enough to be tied into.  Block, stud and gypsum, or concrete walls are great.  Steel skinned buildings are not.  The wall should also be even across the locations where the building would tie in.  If there’s a significant gap, such as in some brick walls, you’ll need to add some flashing to seal off the gaps into the building.  In some buildings there has been a wall built in front of the steel skin wall.  Remember to make sure the height of the front wall is taller than the height of the building panels.

Modular wall system above and below a mezzanine

A four wall in-plant office above the mezzanine with a two wall modular building system below the deck

Recently, we have done a number of mezzanine supported in-plant offices along the perimeters of the customers’ buildings, and are often asked if we could utilize the existing building walls.  The issue here, though, is that even though you might not realize it, there is some movement on the platform different from the existing building wall.  These forces would weaken the structural integrity of the building system.  At the ground level below the mezzanine, we can potentially utilize the existing building walls, but we would need to go with a four wall system on top of the platform.

two wall building system below a mezzanine

This two wall modular building system allowed our customer to separate production from the employee entrance.

A two wall modular building system offers a number of advantages, such as the ability to utilize existing windows/wiring, as well as a cost savings from using fewer materials and labor.  If you are looking at putting in some in-plant offices, it might be worth your while to consider going with a two or three wall building system.