The Problem: For the University of Wisconsin's State Surplus SWAP Shop, used materials are big business. The SWAP Shop is part of the University of Wisconsin-Madison's SWAP (Surplus With A Purpose) program, a multifaceted property disposal operation that collects and processes over 20 tons of surplus material from university and state agencies each week. What it doesn't reuse or recycle is offered for sale to other agencies, nonprofit groups, and the public, either at the shop itself or on its online auction site. The shop's weekly sales draw bargain hunters hungry for deals on everything from computers and office furniture to books and athletic apparel.
As part of a master plan to consolidate resources and streamline operations, the state in 2007 decided to close two smaller SWAP Shop sites and build a new 101,000-square-foot facility in the Madison suburb of Verona to house both the program's warehouse and the store. The question then became how to make the best possible use of the available space.
Customer: University of Wisconsin's SWAP (Surplus With A Purpose) Shop
Primary Business: Collecting, processing, and redistributing surplus property generated by all University of Wisconsin-Madison departments, UW state schools, municipalities, and state agencies
Headquarters: Madison, Wis.
Suppliers: Wildeck Inc. and Storage and Handling Systems
Solution: Repurposing an existing work platform and adding a second platform
The Solution: In this case, the answer turned out to be mezzanine work platform systems, which would take advantage of unused overhead space while maintaining open productive space below.
In keeping with its mission of redistributing surplus property, the SWAP Shop elected to reuse some of its own equipment, relocating a Wildeck industrial steel work platform from one of the closed facilities into the new building. The platform, which was installed in the late 1980s, had performed well and still had several serviceable years left, says Robin Nicholson, SWAP Shop warehouse supervisor.
"The work platform, albeit more than 20 years old, works great for our needs, and we had no reason to replace it," Nicholson says. "Relocating the structure was easy and cost effective."
In addition to the repurposed unit, the SWAP Shop decided to invest in a second mezzanine platform for the new facility. Choosing a vendor proved to be easy, according to Nicholson. "We've had great success with Wildeck's work platforms, so we purchased another one for the new facility," he says.
For help with the platform's design and layout, Nicholson contacted Madison-based equipment supplier Storage and Handling Systems, which came in to evaluate the application and offer recommendations. The arrangement they settled on called for the top level to be used for general storage, with a portion of space being rented out to other state agencies to accommodate their storage needs. The lower level would serve as a library that would include a workstation for processing incoming book orders and transfers.
"This was a pretty straightforward design, but it met all of the client's needs in terms of functionality, safety, and appearance," says Bill Berg, president of Storage and Handling Systems. He notes that the work platform not only fills the client's immediate needs for storage space and the library, but can also be expanded in the future to adapt to new applications or provide additional capacity.
The new work platform, which has a sprinkler system on the lower level to conform to state fire codes, was installed in November 2012. The older Wildeck work platform is now being used for storage by the university's School of Music. The lower level is secured with fencing and used to store computers and other electronic equipment. Both platforms are freestanding modular structures that can be disassembled and relocated to accommodate changing needs.
As for how it's all working out, Nicholson says the work platforms are exceeding expectations, and he's very happy with their performance.
"I would certainly buy Wildeck products again," he says. "For what we need our work platforms to do, they do the job extremely well."
There are many companies that design, manufacture, sell, and distribute mezzanines (or what some in the industry prefer to call equipment, work, or storage platforms) as well as related products, like flooring and safety guards. Here are just some that we've run across: