Providing Realistic, Responsible, and Sustainable Design Solutions

Sustainable Design Solutions

Earth Day – 4.22.12

Earth Day 2012On April 22, more than one billion people around the globe will participate in Earth Day 2012. People of all nationalities and backgrounds will voice their appreciation for the planet and demand its protection.

You can do your part.

When selecting a storage and equipment partner today, it’s important to look at all facets of an organization’s commitment to environmental sustainability.  Sustainable, or “green,” design solutions are not new to the design industry. You should partner with environmentally responsible manufacturers who have well established “green” manufacturing processes in place to minimize their impact on the environment.  In addition to cutting costs and benefiting the environment, it just makes good economic sense whenever you can save space and reduce costs over the long run.

Compact storage (also known as high density mobile shelving) reduces space needs, which in turn can minimize a buildings total volume and reduce construction costs, as well as saving energy and reducing operating costs over the life of the building. Compact storage has also helped reduce site disturbance in new construction and has aided in the adaptive reuse of existing buildings. In one project alone, it saved over 30,000 square feet and $6 million in construction costs. In others, it helped prevent the need for costly renovations and additions. Compact storage is a viable alternative to traditional, fixed storage products, and green in terms of Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) which is a tool to measure, assess and manage the environmental performance of a product from raw materials through production, use, and end-of-life phases.

With over 28 percent of all office furnishings expenditures typically spent on storage equipment, and space is at a premium in most industries, high density mobile shelving is an appropriate solution. It is the most space efficient of all storage equipment in terms of optimizing space utilization, yet initial costs per storage inch for high-density mobile equipment are less than for most other storage products. When evaluating energy-saving strategies, high-density shelving gets high marks.

Green Buildings for Earth Day 2012

The high density shelving concept fosters the use of smaller buildings reducing the amount of building materials consumed and saving energy by having to heat and cool less square footage over the life of the building. It also fosters the use of on-site storage, which requires less energy to retrieve than items stored in an off-site location.

As a facility’s needs change, high-density mobile shelving equipment may be relocated and reused — and at the end of its useful life, because it is manufactured primarily of steel or aluminum, it can be recycled again. {Read more of this article in the Washington DC Capital Connection}

Find a storage design consultant knowledgeable in ADA, HIPAA, fire code compliance, and floor loading implications who can provide innovative layouts for a variety of storage designs.

In keeping with your commitment to sustainable, reusable workspace interiors, consider engaging National Office Systems in a discussion to design your environmental friendly space.  They can be reached at 1.800.840.6264 or by email at

I look forward to your comments on this important discussion.

~Jane McDonald


Posted in ADA Compliance, Asset Tracking, Compact Mobile Shelving, High Density Shelving, Hospital Laboratory Storage Shelving, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Document Management Thoughts

Electronic or Hard Copy – You decide

I was organizing my home office library the other day and came across a book that was published in 1983 by Mary Jane Forbes who was a Senior Executive Secretary at Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) from 1971 to 1983.  “Word Processing Procedures For Today’s Office” [Digital Press ISBN 0.932376-42-8] included tips and techniques for users and was used as a great learning tool by early computer users.  

Since this blog is dedicated to the management and protection of documents, records, and assets, you might be wondering what does a book on word processing from 1983 have to do with records management in 2012.   The focus of the book was to eliminate file folders and keep all information in electronic format and we’ve been chasing that goal since 1983.  Only recently have we seen success in the electronic medical records marketplace.  But what about other industries that have mounds and mounds of paperwork to protect, manage, and organize while at the same time remain compliant with government and industry regulations?   It can seem overwhelming.  Digital Equipment Corporation circa 1983

This picture was scanned (sorry for the poor quality)from this 1983 book and has a caption “Hello electronic filing … goodbye file folders”.  When I saw the picture I wondered how file folders would (1) ever been eliminated and (2) with the increase in documents and files where and how could they be stored today in 2012.

The answer could be found in an early vision.  In 1986 when Systematics began in business as a storage and filing company, one of their very first customers was a former employer of mine — Digital Equipment Corporation (Headquartered in Maynard, MA) who  purchased automated retrieval and filing systems and high density mobile shelving systems to store parts, equipment, and documents.   The concept of high density filing is a simple one.  By eliminating aisles and compacting storage units together you can save over 50% of floor space.  You do this by only opening an aisle when you need to access the contents inside.  Simple enough.  In a blog post yesterday, I discussed high density shelving design and even posted an InfoGraphic that explained how to move from a file cabinet scenario to a high density system and reduce the amount of floor spaced needed and save money.

So the moral of the story is that time does not always change approaches to solving problems but engineering does continually improve product to market as we have seen with the latest improvements in high density shelving manufacturing.

To learn more about implementing a records management program in your organization, contact the team in Washington, DC or in New York or New England.  They’re experts in their field.  For a question or comment, call me at 617.548.2481.

Thanks for stopping by!

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Compact Shelving Design Thoughts

High Density Shelving Design Considerations

Before you buy your next file cabinet, take a look at this InfoGraphic on the costs of filing cabinets vs. high density shelving systems.  Infographic-HighDensityStorage

Once you’ve decided to purchase a high density shelving system, I’d encourage you to take the following information into consideration:

High Density Shelving Structural Track Considerations

High Density Shelving Structural Tracks are available in standard or seismic anti-tip versions depending on the requirements of the project. Structural Track spacing can be adjusted to meet floor loads requirements for facilities in high-rises. Structural Track can be embedded in concrete for flush installs or anchored onto existing slabs using an elevated deck and ADA compliant entry ramp for system access.

High Density Shelving Wheel Assemblies

Not all high density manufacturers offer the same wheel assembly sizes. The size of the wheels in your high density system will help to determine how much weight the system can hold and how many turns of the handle in a mechanical system it takes to open an aisle. 1″ wheel assemblies require 16-20 handle rotations to open a 36″ wide aisle. 3″ wheel assemblies require 10-12 handle rotations to open a 36″ wide aisle. 5″ wheels assemblies require 6-8 handle rotations to open a 36″ wide aisle.

High Density Moveable and Fixed Carriages

Carriages are available in both welded and bolt and rivet models from various manufacturers. Carriages allow the storage units to roll from side to side on the structural tracks, creating collapsible aisles in the high density system. Carriages are also rated for different pounds per lineal foot, with versions at 700, 1,000 and heavy-duty high density systems are available at 30,000 and 60,000 pounds per lineal foot.

Shelving Systems for High Density Storage Systems

Shelving Systems available for use in high density storage systems include four-post shelving, cantilever shelving, case style, high density drawer systems, museum cabinets, weapon racks, pallet racking in heavy-duty systems and most other shelving systems available.

End Panels

End Panels available in high density shelving systems range from chain box covers to full steel end panels, high pressure laminate (HPL) end panels, wood veneer and fabric covering. Each manufacturer offers various finishes and colors to decorate the face of your high density shelving system. You can also have custom graphics of your company logo or other decorative logos or symbols to the end panel of your high density shelving system.

High Density Shelving System Controls

There are three different ways to operate a high density shelving system. A Manual operated system has a fixed handle on the end panel, which requires grabbing the system and pulling the system side-to-side to create an access aisle. This system is only advised for the smallest and lightest applications for safety considerations. Mechanical Assisted systems are the most common and cost efficient high density shelving systems. Mechanical Assisted systems have three spoke ergonomic handles attached to each moveable carriage in your system and rotate like a steering wheel with the spokes rotating in your hand as you rotate the handle. Electric high density systems are the third control consideration for operating your high density system. Electric controls allow you to operate the shelving system with the push of a button. These systems provide advanced safety features not available in the manual and mechanical assist systems.

Height Requirements

High Density Shelving System heights vary based on your components involved including the track, wheel assembly and carriage. On average the components will add 4″-9″ with 7″ being the most common to the height of your shelving being used.

Aisle Width Requirements

Aisle Widths vary by local and state codes. Please check with National Office Systems for your aisle width requirements. 36″ wide aisles are the minimum average necessary aisle widths to access your high density shelving system. Add 1-1/2″ per carriage to incorporate the true depth of each carriage. For example, a 30″ wide section of shelving would be 31-1/2″ wide on a carriage.

High Density Shelving System Clearances

High Density Shelving Systems require a minimum of 2″ clearance from the rear wall and a minimum of 3″ overhead clearance from ceilings. Most cities follow a common regulation of 18″ of overhead clearance from fire sprinklers. Please consult with National Office Systems New England regarding overhead clearance regulations as fire and building regulations vary from state to state and sometimes even city to city.

Safety Requirements

High Density Shelving Systems offer several different safety requirements ranging from a mechanical aisle lock to a passive infra-red safety sweep available both in mechanical and electric systems. Please check with NOS or Systematics for your required safety considerations.

Warranty for High Density Shelving Systems

Each manufacturer offers its own unique product warranty. Upon receiving your proposal, make sure the vendor presents the product warranty available with their presentation/proposal.

Call me for additional information and I’d love to hear your comments. 

Jane McDonald

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Compact Shelving Thoughts

Is All The Buzz about Mobile Shelving Confusing?

With so many compact shelving vendors in the marketplace, I’m sure you often wonder how you can break through all the clutter, online social media messaging, and vendor marketing to better understand the differences? I was thinking about this the other day and since this blog focuses on the truth in storage, I thought this would be a good time to share my experiences. I’ve been in the mobile shelving industry for nearly 10 years and during that time, I’ve come to know most of the compact shelving manufacturers either from direct relationships or from a competitive position.

No matter which manufacturer (and ultimately that vendor’s dealer/distributor) you’re working with, all compact mobile shelving systems have the same components – rails, floors, carriages, shelves, uprights, end panels, and a method for movement (electrical or mechanically assisted).  So why is it so confusing from one manufacturer to the next?  Doesn’t a compact shelving system just move back and forth on a series of rails like railroad tracks and compact together to save floor space and use vertical height?  Of course this is true and it is one of the most common explanations you may hear describing how high density storage systems work.  But from a consumer’s perspective, it’s all in the design and the early planning.


So how do you plan for the design of a compact shelving system?  Start with a trusted advisor who has the design and installation experience with the major manufacturers in this competitive marketplace, not one but all of the top manufacturers.  An advisor who will design a system that will achieve your business objectives with the best solution available at a cost that is within your budget.  It’s easy to see a bias if you’re working with a vendor that only has access to only a single  sourced manufacturer. Could it be true that there might be a slightly biased recommendation towards the proposed solution?  Ask about options and vendor choice.  If you’re not presented with options, I’d be skeptical and ask those hard questions of why they are not providing choices.  An answer of “we’re the leading manufacturer of storage systems” just cannot be true any longer.  In this age of social media conversations, there is much more information available to customers today to research products well before they even approach a company to begin discussions.    This is a great advantage for the consumer.

If you’re looking for some early planning information to assist as part of a your vital project planning, this article  just might help.


Rails for Mobile Shelving SystemsThe rail is the basis of all high density mobile shelving systems – no matter the manufacturer.  Mobile carriages are supported by this component.  As seen in the image to the left, this system is riding along the rails that make for smooth operation back and forth. Various types of rails are available for every type of mobile system available and the beauty is they will accommodate any type of material to be stored with proper design and planning.


floor for high density shelvingMobile systems are typically installed on top of an existing floor and are often referred to as raised floors.  A raised floor is usually provided between the rails to compensate for the rail height.  Raised floors are installed to be flush with the top of the rails which include the finished floor (tile, carpet, linoleum, wood).  The floor is installed flush to the top of the rails to eliminate any tripping hazards.


high density carriage with end panel designThe movable carriages and stationary platforms are a serious component of all mobile shelving systems.  They do all the work because they accept all the storage equipment that ultimately holds the material that will be stored and form the core of the mobile system design.


Hey Move It!

To move a compact shelving system, there are actually three options: electrical, mechanically assisted, or manual pull handle systems.

Electrically Powered High Density Touch Pad LCDElectrically Powered Systems are always controlled by a push button (on a liquid crystal readout display) attached to the front of movable carriages.  The user controls the start-up of the movement of each movable carriage but the start and stopping of the carriage is controlled by the carriage itself.  Electrical systems typically include options for safety to detect if someone or something is in the aisle prior to movement.

mechanical assisted high density shelving systemMechanically Assisted Systems are found in all environments today – legal, law enforcement, military, manufacturing, healthcare, pharmaceutical, etc., and are controlled by the user turning a handle at the front of the system that starts the movement and the stopping of the carriages.

manually operated high density shelving systemManual High Density Systems are  powered by human strength alone.  The user has full control of the starting movement and the stopping movement of this type of system.  Weight loads of the media stored in a manual high density system should be a consideration when designing this type of system as media can become heavy and difficult to move by manual operation only.

Decorative End Panels

End panels have multiple functions in that they provide a place to install the LCD controls. End panels make the front of a mobile system more attractive and can be designed to match most office decor (wood, laminate, steel) and can also be designed to include a company’s logo, theme, or graphic banner across all end panels.

decorative end panels

high density mural end panel

Decorative Colors for End Panels

By incorporating decorative end panels, you can design your storage system to reflect your organization’s decor, personality and branding message.  With a wide array of design options, high density mobile shelving systems are attractive additions to any office environment and any decor.  The design options are virtually unlimited with a range of colors and finishes to compliment and match any interior – designs are only limited by your imagination.

Good Business Decisions

Attractive, versatile and easy to access, high density mobile shelving systems are adaptable to any environment and are a cost-effective solution to store virtually anything you can imagine.

I’d love to hear your thoughts as I continue to blog about choices in high density shelving storage systems.

~Jane McDonald

Posted in ADA Compliance, Compact Mobile Shelving, High Density Shelving, Hospital Laboratory Storage Shelving, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

I Know MORE than 10 Things About RFID Asset Tracking



Managing Medical Equipment & Supplies Using RFID Technology

Asset tracking is rapidly becoming one of the most common applications for RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) which identifies unique items using radio waves.  By placing RFID tags (also known as chips) on or inside high value assets, hospitals and medical offices are now able to gather data on the item location and usage with little or no manual intervention.  By tagging assets, healthcare organizations of all sizes can increase asset utilization, identify the last known user of the assets, reduce lost items, and even automate equipment service and maintenance routines.

How Does It Work?

 If You Can TAG it we can TRACK it!


RFID is a technology for identifying unique medical equipment and supplies and other high value assets using radio waves. Typical RFID systems are made up of two (2) major components:  Readers and Tags. The reader, sometimes called the interrogator, sends and receives RF data to and from the tag via antennas.  A reader may have multiple antennas that are responsible for sending and receiving the radio waves.  The tag, or transponder, is made up of the microchip that stores the identifier (data), an antenna and a carrier to which the chip and antenna are mounted (label). The RFID labels draw their power from the reader. The reader transmits a low power radio signal through its antenna to the tag, which in turn receives it through its own antenna to power the integrated circuit (micro-chip) that is built-into the label. The tag will briefly communicate with the reader for verification that the tag was “read” and the exchange of data.  RFID Asset Management software keeps track of all items based on the location of the reader (and the item being read), as well as the date and time that “reads” occur. All RFID “reads” are then updated to a central database.

What Does A Typical Deployment Look Like?

There are many methods for deploying RFID technology.  A sample design in a medical office would include the following:

  • Portable RFID readers and download cradle for importing inventory reports, updating locations and instant “find an item” requirements. 
  • Check-in/Check-out RFID Controller in the Medical Equipment or Supplies room with an RFID reader and antenna for passive record Check-in/Check-out.
  • Office wide tracking of items in and out of doorways and common areas or specific rooms with fixed readers and antennas.
  • RFID Workstation for Administrators. 
  • Color printer for producing RFID labels.
  • Mobile RFID cart for inventorying and transporting items throughout the office.

Sensors to detect the movement and direction of items and  can be placed around the doorways of rooms or at traffic-flow “choke points” to passively track equipment as they move in or out of rooms or around the office.  Radio waves keep track of the items without staff having to manually intervene.  RFID labels can be placed on Staff ID badges or Name Cards and the RFID will know what items moved in what direction by what person at what date and time.


What Are the Benefits Implementing RFID for Tracking Medical Equipment?

In a world where companies are being asked to conserve valuable resources and deliver accountability for an organization’s vital assets, RFID Asset Tracking will allow you to have complete control over all of your physical organizational assets and inventory. An RFID Asset Tracking solution for medical equipment and supplies will help eliminate lost or misplaced supplies and equipment throughout the Asset Management process.

Departments that can benefit from RFID Asset Tracking are found in all areas of a healthcare setting.

  • Ambulatory Care Facilities
  • Ancillary Services
  • Active Storage Areas in Acute and Non-Acute Care
  • Medical Supplies Dispensing
  • Sterile Processing Departments
  • Medical Records Filing Rooms
  • Nursing Central Supply Stations
  • Medical Libraries

What Resources are available to learn more about RFID?

There are many educational resources and suppliers of RFID solutions. 

If you’re new to the world of RFID, visit the RFID Journal and browse through the “New to RFID” section at

NeoCon Gold Winner

Systematic Asset Management

If you’re interested in learning more about asset tracking, visit National Office Systems and browse through the “Software” section at or visit a NeoCon Gold Technology winner for 2011 Systematic Asset Management.

If you want to learn how to evaluate different suppliers of RFID tags and readers, visit  They help you to make a decision that will impact the long-term success of an RFID project.


Follow my tips and information on Twitter at @BrandingJane.  

I can be reached at 617-548-2481 or – I am always excited to talk about different RFID strategies. 


Posted in Asset Tracking, Compact Mobile Shelving, High Density Shelving, Hospital Laboratory Storage Shelving, Medical Equipment & Supplies, RFID | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

10 Things I Know About Records Management

Why Implement Records Management In The First Place ?

Every business or program must address well-defined objectives which will add value, either directly to the bottom line or toward the achievement of the organization’s goals and objectives.  Records Management objectives usually fall into one of three categories:

  1. Service (effective and efficient)
  2. Profit (or cost avoidance)
  3. Social (moral, ethical and legal) responsibility

Records Management programs must manage organizational information so that it is timely, accurate, complete, cost-effective, accessible and useable.  Better information, at the right time, makes better business.  Records Management programs are not generally an organization’s primary business, and even though records management programs don’t usually generate income they are of paramount importance to an organization.

Here are the 10 Things I Know {and consider important} when planning to set up a records management program in an organization of any size.

  1. To Control the Creation and Growth of Records
  2. To Reduce Operating Costs
  3. To Improve Efficiency & Productivity
  4. To Assimilate New Records Management Technologies
  5. To Minimize Litigation Risks
  6. To Ensure Regulatory Compliance
  7. To Safeguard Vital Information
  8. To Support Better Management Decision Making
  9. To Preserve the Corporate Memory
  10. To Foster Professionalism in Running the Business

Despite decades of using various non-paper storage media, the amount of paper in our offices continues to escalate.  An effective records management program addresses both creation control and records retention which stabilizes the growth of records in all formats.

Impacts to Productivity & Efficiency

Systematic Asset Management SoftwareTime spent searching for missing or mis-filed records is non-productive.  A good records management program can help any organization upgrade its recordkeeping systems so that information retrieval is enhanced with corresponding improvements in office efficiency and productivity.  A well designed and operated filing system with an effective index can facilitate retrieval and deliver information to users as quickly as they need it. 

Call 617-548-2481 to get labels todayConsider implementing a technology that will provide a complete suite of asset management, records tracking, and labeling functionality.  Systematic Asset Management available exclusively from National Office Systems in the Mid Atlantic, Washington, DC and Baltimore, MD areas and Systematics in New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island provides an ideal alternative for streamlining your filing processes.  Eliminate lost files, save time creating files, retrieve current data quickly, and implement integrated color coded labels with SAM (Systematic Asset Management). 

Continue reading

Posted in Compact Mobile Shelving, High Density Shelving, Hospital Laboratory Storage Shelving | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

10 Things I Know about Floor Loading


It’s About Uniform Building Codes

The subject of actual floor loading versus design floor loading is often misunderstood.  Did you know that the Uniform Building Code requires, at a minimum, floors be designed to support the dead load of the floor and the required live load?  For an office building, the live load is normally a uniform load of 50 pounds per square foot (psf) over the entire floor area for a framing member or a 2,000 pound load placed upon any 2 1/2 x 2 1/2 square foot space.   The load producing the greatest stress in a framing member is the governing load for that member.  The Load is an Average Value.

Here are 10 Things I Know About Floor Loading:

  1. The requirement to design a floor for a uniform load of 50 PSF over the entire area for a particular member does not mean that this is the largest load that can be placed on the floor.
  2. The load is an average value for a typical office space with desks, filing cabinets, aisles, etc. As can be seen by the concentrated load requirement, the 2,000 pounds in 6.25 square feet (2 ½ x 2 ½ ft) is a load of 320 PSF.  This high loading assumes that the area around the concentrated load is unloaded. This would occur if the heavy object was surrounded by aisle space. Each loading condition must be reviewed individually.
  3. The typical floor load for high density filing is 250 PSF.  This is greater than the 50 PSF uniform design load.   Since the design load is assumed over every square foot of floor area, including aisles, the floor is not overloaded if there is four square feet of aisle area for each square foot of file storage floor area. This statement is a simplification of the issue and cannot be used as a basis of approval for every high density storage application.
  4. Each installation must be considered as a separate case. To avoid the danger of overloading the floor, the approximate weight of the system and the materials to be stored should be calculated and evaluated individually by a licensed architect or engineer. 
  5. As mobile storage increases the capacity in a given area, the weight of the system automatically increases. To verify whether a mobile storage system is within the approved floor loading weight as indicated by building specifications, the following calculations can be used.  NOTE: It is extremely important to obtain the approved floor loading for each individual system and installation, prior to any calculations and final evaluations being made.
  6. Determine the area the mobile system will utilize. Take the actual length and width and add 3’ to the width for the main walking aisle. In some cases, if the mobile system is the only equipment within a room, take the area of the entire room.
  7. Calculate the weight of the system, including the mobile components, storage units and stored material. The mobile product and storage unit weights can be calculated from the estimate of what is to be included within the system. The weight of the stored material is calculated by multiplying the capacity (linear measurement) by the stored material weight (per linear measurement).   NOTE: In many cases, a mobile system will never be loaded to more than 80% of its full capacity.
  8. To obtain the total system loading weight, divide the total weight of the system by the system floor area.
  9. Ensure the total system weight does not exceed the specified building floor loading.

Calculation Example: 

Lateral Sliding File System, Letter Tiers, 8 high, in a 10’x17’ room

Floor area 10’ x 17’ = 170 sq ft.

System Weight:
Mobile (Sliding File System) Weight: 190 lbs.
Storage Unit (Tier) Weight: 1,240 lbs.
Stored Material Weight: 7 units x 8 shelves/unit x 90lbs/ shelf = 5040 lbs x 80% (average load factor): 4032 lbs.


Floor Loading: 5,462lbs/170 sq ft. = 32 lbs/sq ft. 

Approved floor loading (Data obtained from Engineer/Architect) = 50 lbs/sq ft 

10.  Weight of Stored Material — Some commonly stored items and their approximate weights can help you to plan. For storage of other types of material – parts, industrial supplies, samples, dry goods, etc. – an estimate should be obtained.



Lbs. /Inch


Lbs. Per 36” Section

Letter size documents




Medical records




Legal size documents

2 ½



X-ray film w/jackets




Printouts (in binders)

3 ½




1 ¼




You now have several methods for calculating and accommodating floor loads for high density shelving systems. 

When working with an outside professional check their qualifications closely.  Work with a structural engineer who has experience with the specific floor system involved.  Equally important, you should work with a storage and filing system supplier who can give you the storage capacities and loads – both uniform and line loads.  They should be knowledgeable in a wide variety of structural system design strategies.  While floor loading issues are difficult and complex, structural engineers and firms like National Office Systems can help to guide you through the process without restriction to a single high density shelving manufacturer.  Look for a company like National Office Systems in the Washington, DC and Mid-Atlantic Regions or Systematics in the Northeast who is open to creative solutions to achieve maximum space efficiency at a cost you can live with.  For additional information not included in this post or for your specific interest, ask me your question here.


Posted in ADA Compliance, Compact Mobile Shelving, High Density Shelving, Library Bookstacks, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

10 Things I know about Healthcare Storage

Prescribing Healthy Storage Solutions

The efficient storage and organization of medical records, supplies and equipment is vital to the health of any medical facility.  I often hear that there are dual objectives when it comes to storage – (1) providing quick, convenient access to essential equipment and supplies and, (2) freeing up critically needed examination, procedure, and diagnostic space.

The Cure for any Storage Condition

Healthcare facilities have the challenge of providing exceptional patient care while containing costs, increasing efficiencies, and managing legal and compliance issues.  Whether your facility is a small private practice, a large regional medical center, or an outpatient surgical center, the challenges remain the same – maximizing patient care space while maintaining easy access to the life-saving supplies, medical records and other critical items.

Here are the 10 things that I know about designing efficient healthcare storage for all of your items … from fast mover shelves for frequently used medications and supplies to space-saving high density mobile shelving systems that allow surgical supplies to be within arm’s reach in the operating room.

  1. Central Monitoring Systems.  Ensure safety and security with central monitoring consoles.  Pick consoles that are designed with adjustability and ergonomics in mind so that users are completely satisfied.  Consoles can manage large quantities of computer equipment at each workstation.  Focus on ergonomic satisfaction!
  2. Sterile Supplies.  Ensure superior patient care with sterile storage solutions that provide quick access to supplies while protecting them from dust and damage.  Efficiently stored items from sutures and dressings, slides and chemicals to surgical kits and bulk materials.
  3. Pharmacy.  Dispense medications quickly and accurately with storage that can be configured to hold pegs, bins and baskets for anything from unit dose storage to bulk containers.  Remember to include locking options to limit access and give you inventory control.
  4. Secured Medical Records.  Safeguard confidential patient records, maintain accessibility of vital medical information and do it in half the space of regular storage.  Think about using lockable mobile shelving and rotary storage cabinets.
  5. Emergency Room.  Maximize costly surgical space.  Plan to keep fast-moving sterile items steps away by utilizing high density mobile shelving.
  6. Medical equipment.  Organize bulky hard to manage medical apparatus that comes in many shapes, weights, and heights (orthopedic equipment, diagnostic imaging, prosthetics, etc.) with customized compact storage.
  7. Linens.  Eliminate up to 50% of wasted space and protect linens from dust and contamination with specially designed mobile shelving that is configured for easy access while keeping linens on site, clean, and ready to use.
  8. Food Service.  Store more bulk food items on site in less space.  Maximize the square footage of limited freezer and refrigerated areas that are costly and difficult to expand.
  9. Business Office/Human Resource Departments.  Improve the management, control and accountability of paperwork, including insurance documents, personnel files, patient financial records and payroll documents with secure (HIPPA Compliant) high density shelving solutions.  Consider implementing color coded labeling to improve accuracy in filing and productivity.
  10. Vendor Selections & Product Availability.  When planning for storage, work with a vendor who can represent the top manufacturers in both storage and casework.  Insist on a range of products and accessories where you can be assured you’ll achieve a configuration that will meet both your needs of the needs of your work environment – storage and shelving, millwork, casework, lab, and nurses stations.

So, even if your storage is “code blue”, rely on a vendor who will prescribe a storage treatment that reduces space requirements while maintaining quick access to the items vital to patient care.

For a complimentary cost containment analysis to assist in both short and long-term storage planning, contact National Office Systems in the Mid-Atlantic and Washington DC areas and National Office Systems New England in the Northeast.  For general inquiries call toll-free 800-229-8393.

Posted in ADA Compliance, Compact Mobile Shelving, High Density Shelving, Hospital Laboratory Storage Shelving, Modular Millwork and Casework, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

10 Things I know about Laboratory Storage

Hospital Laboratory Storage Ideas

Each lab in a hospital has its unique characteristics and function, and depending on its size, market, and specialty, has certain functional areas in common. The information reported by a laboratory determines a patient’s diagnosis and initial treatment – as well as keeping track of the patient’s continued treatment and progress.

Many areas within a laboratory have a need for storage and the location of the storage depends on the physical layout of the lab.  A lab designed with individual department rooms may require storage within each room, while an open concept plan may have central storage with small areas dedicated to various functional areas.

Here are the 10 things I know to consider for the storage of records, specimen collections, slides, glassware, cultures, bulk storage, and more.

  1. Don’t forget about Protected Health Information as it pertains to HIPAA.  This includes any samples, specimens, DNA, etc. if it contains protected health information because they fall under the rules and regulations of HIPPA.  Treat them the same as medical records – keep confidential and accessed only by those who need access.
  2. Consider retention carefully.  If the lab is involved with research, there are specific retention schedules to apply.  Slides (25 years), Paraffin Blocks (10 years), Reports in paper format (12 months in binders and then 25 years in pathology books). Since state regulations do differ, make sure to check your facility/state’s retention schedules carefully when planning for long-term storage.
  3. Glass is very heavy.  If storing glass slides, plan to use heavy-duty shelving because of the weight.
  4. Structural Engineers are Critical.  Because glass slides are very heavy, work with a structural engineer and facilities in the hospital. They will guide you in making an informed decision.
  5. Avoid Vibration and Jarring. Work with a storage provider with expertise in this type of storage who will typically design a system that is electric to avoid any vibration that could damage the media.
  6. Paraffin Blocks need Protection.  Keep blocks off floors to prevent damage from possible flooding.  Also, remember to keep items stored in areas where there is no rodent problem or severe heat that could compromise the paraffin blocks.
  7. Slides are Very Fragile.  Try to keep as much of the inventory on-site in order to store and preserve them correctly.  If you’re considering an off-site storage site, be aware that this type of storage is very expensive, retrieval is time-consuming, and often the off-site staff may not be aware of how fragile blocks and glass slides can be during transport.
  8. Don’t forget Refrigerated Storage.  In refrigerated areas consider the use of wire shelving to store chemicals, blood collections, reagents, etc. that require refrigeration.
  9. Consider specimen control (and receiving).  Create a workstation for the receiving and logging of all orders by physicians for tests and specimens.  Once they are received and logged, they can then be distributed to the appropriate areas within the lab (i.e., histology, cytology, toxicology, urinalysis, chemistry, etc.).
  10. Use Technology Best Practices.  Consider either bar code or RFID technology to manage and track and easily locate inventory. 

Creative Solutions for Highly Sustainable Environments

Sustainability is now more important than ever, given our shrinking resources and our need for conservation.  All institutions, from hospitals, surgical suites, clinics, physician’s offices, and laboratories use high density shelving solutions.

If you’re stressed out trying to solve a laboratory storage problem on your own, call 800.229.8393 and speak with experts who can compile a design efficiency survey for you.  Or to submit your detailed information to designers — in the Mid-Atlantic and Washington DC area get in touch with National Office Systems or in the Northeast get in touch with National Office Systems New England.


Posted in ADA Compliance, Compact Mobile Shelving, Consoles, High Density Shelving, Hospital Laboratory Storage Shelving, Modular Millwork and Casework | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

10 Things I Know about Library/Education Storage

Every Need, Like Every book, is Different

The ways in which people use your library space and their expectations of the resources you provide have definitely changed recently.  However, one factor has not changed – you still need an individual solution.

Storage and Furnishings Needed in Many Areas

  • Resource Management
  • Sciences
  • Computer Labs
  • Music, Art, Sports, Law and Theater
  • Administration

Periodical Storage

Media and Periodical Storage




Here are the 10 things that I know about planning and designing storage spaces in a library or education setting.

  1. Public Libraries – Plan to store anything and everything that defines your library, no matter the size or shape – and make room for more in the process.
  2. Academic Institutions – Plan to overcome unique architectural challenges in academic areas and libraries by turning wasted space into productive space.  Plan to efficiently store your myriad of resources.
  3. Corporate Libraries – Think about how you can enable greater efficiency by helping employees quickly retrieve frequently needed resources.  Also plan on the best alternatives for inventory management.
  4. K-12 Storage – Think about removing clutter from classrooms and libraries.  This is a perfect opportunity to create more precious space and improve the learning environment.
  5. Media Centers – Plan to overcome the growing storage challenge with compact, but spacious, systems designed for DVD’s, CD’s computer data, tapes — You name it!
  6. Athletic Storage – Here’s the opportunity to help athletes suit up faster.  Consider high density shelving to manage equipment easily and efficiently.  Store any equipment — shoes, helmets, uniforms, and more — for any sport!
  7. Locker Storage – Promote efficiency and organization in academic personnel storage areas through the use of configurable locker storage.
  8. Workspace & Classroom Storage – For easy expansion and relocation, consider rotary files for compact back-to-back storage of most materials.  Turn any tight or neglected area into a functional, highly organized storage space.
  9. Mail/Copy/Fax Areas – Think about customizing your copy center, mail center by forming storage or workroom areas using modular sorting stations. Consider adding cabinets, bins, tubs, shelf dividers, and display boards.
  10. Focus on the bottom line return on investment –   Incorporate storage and furnishings that pass the test of time, punishment, and style.  Your materials are subject to a highly repetitious cycle of storage and retrieval.  Your finishings are sat upon, written upon, and otherwise relied upon at almost all times.  Ensure the products you select provide exceptional durability and safety.

Create Space.  Expand Resources.  Grow Minds.

Reference Area in LibraryYour space is a hub of frenetic activity filled with growing resources and increased visitor expectations.  So, how do you store what you have, gain space for what’s coming, and free up space for resource areas?  Start with an educated storage plan.

For assistance in developing a storage plan in the Mid-Atlantic and Washington DC areas contact National Office Systems and in the Northeast contact National Office Systems New England.  Ask about their installations and references or feel free to call me direct at 800.229.8393 or get in touch with me to request collaboration.

Posted in ADA Compliance, Compact Mobile Shelving, High Density Shelving, Library Bookstacks, Modular Millwork and Casework, Uncategorized | Leave a comment