Mobile shelving units are a highly effective way to increase your file storage capacity and improve access to active records.
However, not every mobile storage solution will work well in every environment. There are many factors to consider before you can determine the optimal system.
In the first of a two-part blog post, we will look at several important questions to ask before you start your search for a solution. In next week’s post we will explore the various types of mobile shelving to help you make the best choice.
Five key mobile storage questions
- What are we storing, now and in future? Understanding exactly what you’ll be storing, both now and in the future, is an essential part of getting the right mobile storage system. If you are storing a combination of media, you’ll need a flexible storage solution that will accommodate that.
- How much are we storing, now and in future? To start with, you’ll need to work out the quantity of records on hand today. Before moving to a mobile shelving system, many of our clients find it helpful to conduct a structured file purge in order to minimize the storage of unneeded documents. From there, you need to estimate your yearly growth in physical records. Again, this will depend on your situation, but many organizations use a 15-20 percent rule of thumb in the absence of any other factors such as a planned merger or acquisition.
- What is our space situation? As a baseline, it helps to establish the total square footage available in the proposed space. You should also make note of any obstacles and required allowances around doors, pillars, and other fixed objects. The composition and “level-ness” of the floor are also important factors to consider when planning the system. Finally, and most importantly, you need to get an exact idea of the weight bearing capacity of your floor. Ground floor installations typically don’t present problems, but on upper floors you must ensure the total system weight falls within safe ranges. Consult with your facilities manager or building engineer to determine the floor’s weight capacity and any requirements regarding the alignment of the shelving system (for example, whether it needs to run perpendicular to floor supports).
- What do our workflows look like? As part of your space evaluation, you need to think about daily workflows. Which workers are creating and using these files? How often? Where are they located? These questions will help you determine the most appropriate location and design for your filing system. You’ll also get a better idea how many aisles need to be created. A good rule of thumb is to have one aisle per active user in the space. For example, if you typically have two workers retrieving or returning records at any given moment, you’ll want to have at least two aisles.
- What are our security and compliance obligations? When inventorying the records that will be stored in the mobile system, you should get a clear idea about any security and compliance requirements for the records. Will some of the records only be accessible by authorized users? What compliance guidelines exist regarding the storage of sensitive records? Depending on the level of security you want (or that is required by law), you can create different levels of security—from room level to an individual carriage within the mobile unit, or right down to individual shelves within the shelving unit (tambour and doors), as well as different types of locks (end-panel or in the floor).
Answering the questions above will ensure that you go into the purchase process informed and aware of your requirements. Ultimately this will reduce your chances of ending up with a system that is inefficient, under-built, or at worst, dangerous. An experienced provider such as TAB can review your answers and guide you in the direction of the best solution.
In next week’s blog post we will review the different kinds of mobile shelving solutions and explore which ones work best for specific situations. Read Part II here »