Managing the limited space available inside a warehouse or factory can be tricky, but wire cages are one of the easiest and most cost-effective options to do so. Cordoning off work areas is important for worker safety, and managing the flow of people and items through your facility can help you streamline your operations. Even climate control and visitor management can be improved by using strategically placed wire mesh partitions instead of walls.
Plus, wire mesh partitions are more cost-effective and flexible than walls. Building new walls often require reworking lighting and sprinkler systems, while wire cages can be installed quickly and at low cost. They’re an excellent choice for new businesses, well-established facilities with the potential to grow, and businesses facing the challenge of moving into a new warehouse.
There are multiple sizes, styles, and colors of wire partitions available. Full wire cages with four walls, a ceiling, and an electronic lock system can be built for areas that need high security. Other partitions can be single-wall and low enough to see over. Depending on what kind of rooms and floor space your facility already has, you may need to build a large number of cages or try to leave as much space open as possible for forklifts and other equipment to move around.
1. Storage for Equipment
At the end of a shift, you need forklifts, hand carts, and other equipment returned to a sensible location so the next shift of workers can find what they need. You also want that area to be as secure as possible, especially if you have a large warehouse where you can’t keep an eye on everyone at once.
A wire mesh partition is ideal for this purpose, as it allows supervisors and other staff to see at a glance what hasn’t been returned to this proper location. A lockable gate is optional but allows improved security. Gates don’t have to be a hassle, either – they can be left open during the shift, if space and security needs allow, and then locked after the shift ends. Sliding doors can help maximize clearance for equipment to move in and out.
You can also build one or more smaller wire mesh enclosed areas for storing tools. Consider placing them near the entrance to individual work areas, so workers don’t have to go out of their way to get everything they need. For low-value tools, the areas can be open and unlocked, minimizing hassle for supervisors. You can also install a fingerprint pad or keycard system to eliminate the need for a physical key.
2. Securing Machinery
Factories with heavy machinery must make every effort to protect workers from dangerous areas. No matter how well you train staff, someone will inevitably forget that a particular area under or next to a machine is dangerous. Even warning signs can be overlooked while a worker is carrying multiple boxes or lugging heavy tools across the factory floor.
Installing machine guards on small parts of equipment only helps protect the user. To prevent other workers or equipment from entering dangerous areas, use wire fence partitions to separate them. If flying debris is a potential concern, you can get welded wire mesh with holes as small as ½” square, angled and shaped to match any equipment. A customized wire partition fence around or under machinery can have as many gates as you need to facilitate access for maintenance staff.
While solid panel cages may be a more appropriate choice in some cases, wire mesh allows supervisors to see line employees and all staff to communicate with each other more easily. Plus, staff can easily hang tools on fencing wherever it’s safe to, increasing the amount of usable space in an area.
3. Restricting Access to Items
Sometimes, certain things just need to be kept separate from each other. Whether you manage a warehouse and need an area to keep damaged goods, or you work for law enforcement and need to store confiscated items, a wire cage can help.
Factories sometimes have flammable liquids, dangerous equipment, or valuable materials stored on-site. Even if workers need to use these goods regularly, it may be wise to keep them in a locked area that only supervisors can access. While this can seem inefficient at first, it could prevent significant theft or abuse of company property in the future.
While a walled-off area can also work for these purposes, having a fully visible storage area can be much better for preventing theft and other problems. You can make the area as small or as large as your facility needs. A floor-to-ceiling wire mesh fence isn’t always necessary, either, so you can keep costs to a minimum and flexibility as high as possible.
4. Protecting Fragile Goods
Partitioning off certain goods is a worthwhile investment, especially if your operation still relies heavily on forklifts and other heavy machinery. Some goods stored in a warehouse may be more susceptible to damage than others and could be destroyed if the corner of a heavy pallet hits them. For some factories, the expensive finished goods are fragile and need to be kept out of harm’s way before being shipped out. Keeping these goods in a separate area may seem cumbersome, but it’s a worthwhile investment.
Plus, having a clearly marked wire mesh partition around these goods can help as a visual reminder for employees to handle the contents carefully. In the hustle and bustle of a warehouse or factory, it can be easy to forget that some boxes need an extra-gentle set of hands. Having wire mesh instead of a wall also helps supervisors ensure that products are being handled appropriately, too.
5. Protecting Small Boxes and Packages
Some facilities deal with a variety of sizes of goods, and it can be easy for smaller products to get crushed or lost if they’re not quarantined properly. For example, some warehouses deal with both pallets of goods and individual boxes. While it may seem intuitive to keep all of the same types of goods in the same space, having a separate fenced-off area for smaller products can help maximize your space by allowing you to install different shelving configurations.
Even if you enact a policy that requires workers to put smaller boxes on a separate, nearby shelf, people inevitably forget or get lazy. Keeping the small boxes completely separate can reduce loss and improve efficiency by reducing the amount of time workers spend looking for the product they were looking for. Having a separate area reduces overlap between forklifts and other traffic, too.
6. Managing Employee Movement
When your employees first enter the premises, they have to move from the parking lot to the timeclock before heading to the warehouse or factory floor. Depending on the exact policies of your facility, your employees may need to be inspected before and after entering the warehouse, or they may need to make sure to clock in and out at a certain location.
High mesh fencing can help control traffic flow and prevent employees from skipping necessary steps as they start or end their shift. Even if your team is generally diligent and tries to follow procedures, new employees can benefit from having a clearly marked route through the facility. It can also help steer staff away from uneven flooring, trip hazards, and other sources of potential accidents.
Plus, fencing can serve as a clear indicator of off-limits areas for human resources staff and other untrained personnel. If the newly installed fencing is clearly marked, you’ll have minimal issues with retraining staff on the new policies. You can even get color-coded fencing to make the warnings even more obvious.
7. Creating a Customer/Client Area
If you occasionally have clients or customers visit your building, you may need an area to host them in. Ideally, this area will be a walled-off, air-conditioned office for maximum comfort and privacy. For some older buildings, though, this simply won’t be possible. Other times, you’ll want to give clients an up-close view of the facility for at least part of their time there.
Depending on the type of businesses your facility serves, some of your visitors may not be used to the hustle and bustle of a warehouse or factory. Having a wire mesh fence in place can allow your clients to be within eyesight of the warehouse or factory floor, without risking them wandering into the action. It also provides a sense of security for them, as they know they won’t have to worry about dodging forklifts behind the safety of a fence.
Of course, some clients will want a thorough tour of the facility, in which case you can safely escort them through and then have longer discussions from the safety of the fenced-in area. You could also extend the wire fence a little farther into the facility and conduct the entire “tour” from behind the fence, especially if you have a small building. It’s a small investment that helps you manage visitors while also appearing more safe and professional.
8. Making Training and Supervisory Areas
For supervisory staff, juggling the management of various employees is easier said than done. New employees often need extensive training on policies and equipment. This training may require dedicated space, a television for training videos, and a computer or table for completing paperwork. Sometimes the human resources office can manage some of this themselves, but depending on the complexity of the training, supervisors and managers who handle training may need their own space.
If you’re lucky, your facility may have sufficient walled-off space for training or may be small enough that supervisors can handle the occasional new employee without dedicated space. However, you’ll probably find yourself short on space at times, such as if you’re bringing in several seasonal hires. Having a fenced-off space at a quiet end of the facility can be a lifesaver when you’re trying to get people ready to work as soon as possible. Plus, having clear line of sight with the shop floor can help supervisors point out the different areas, signage, and other parts of the warehouse while they train.
Even after training duties are finished, supervisors sometimes need their own space for completing paperwork and other tasks. Ideally, this space will be within shouting distance of the shop floor – but that’s not possible if there are walls in the way! A lockable mesh cage area provides a great space for supervisors to get their day-to-day work done while still being available to line employees.
9. Setting Up Break Rooms
In some facilities, a separate break room is available for workers to sit and rest. However, even when such a room exists, it’s not always the best option for short breaks, as it may be far from the worker’s assigned post or restrooms. Plus, monitoring the room to make sure all of the employees have reported back to work can be a headache for supervisors.
A fenced-off break area can benefit workers and management, especially in large buildings where it’s hard for workers to get to and from the main break area in a timely manner. It’s easy to add fans, water coolers, and other amenities. The loops in the wire fencing are also ideal for hanging bulletin boards and safety reminder signs.
10. Achieving Climate Control
In some climates, warehouses and factories can get unbearably hot in the summer months. Warehouses are expensive to air-condition, so many rely on fans and open loading dock doors as much as possible. Minimizing walls and other obstructions inside the facility can improve air circulation, helping you improve employee morale and prevent heatstroke. While OSHA regulations on safe facility temperatures are flexible, you shouldn’t take the risk of having a heatstroke-related accident on the clock.
If your facility is particularly humid, walls also can allow areas for mold and mildew to build up. As a general rule, any area that stores cardboard or pallets for long periods should have the best ventilation possible. Any area that is walled off, such as restrooms and management offices, will need to be air-conditioned and cleaned more frequently in warm, humid weather.
11. Storing Electronics
It’s somewhat counter-intuitive to think of servers, security systems, and other high-value items as appropriate for storage in a wire cage. However, the climate control reasons mentioned above can make wire fencing a good option for making sure that electronics are accessible yet secure. Large server banks for your business can overheat, just like people. Even if your facility is relatively well air-conditioned, you shouldn’t keep a large group of computers cooped up in a small room.
Instead of storing these systems in the same cage as other valuables, consider putting them in a separate cage that even fewer people have access to. After all, most businesses won’t need access to their servers and security hardware daily. If your facility stores a large number of servers, you could even segregate servers to make sure that technicians and other staff only have access to what they need to fix.
For more information on how Shelving + Rack Systems, Inc. can help you with your wire partition options please call us on 800-589-7225 (RACK).