This paper is a primer on issues in high-density filing. The purpose is to outline many of the typical questions clients have regarding the benefits of various types and styles of high-density filing.
High Density Filing Questions
Why should we worry about paper records any more? Aren’t computers supposed to eliminate paper?
Yes, theoretically. However in reality, sales of paper, files and filing equipment continue to increase. While the portion of organization’s information stored paper format is decreasing, the volume of information stored is still increasing so that in most situations, paper is still the most practical method of storing critical information.
Our file room is full of rollout cabinets and there is no more room. Do we need a mobile filing system?
Possibly. Most rollout cabinets are only four levels high. Some people may have five level cabinets. Simply converting to shelf style filing can double the filing capacity of a typical room. Mobile files can triple the space available. Alternatively, some systems are installed to “free up” floor space instead of increasing capacity.
How can floor space be freed up?
Space is wasted in the typical rollout cabinet in many ways. Any space used by the cabinet that does not hold files is waste. Space is wasted at the ends of each drawer for mechanisms. Space is wasted with the file holders that hang from the bars. Space is wasted vertically as four or five levels are all that is practical. Shelf filing is far more practical as it is typically seven levels high. Space is also wasted with rollout cabinets as the typical aisle has to we wider to accommodate the drawers when they are out.
The identification information is on the top of my files. How can I read this with a shelf filing system?
It is not practical to use “top tab” files with shelf filing systems. You should convert to “end tab” files, so that the file identification information should be seen from the side of the file.
How can I convert to end tab files?
In one way or another, the contents of the files in the old system have to be moved to the new system. You can buy new end tab files and simply move the contents from the old folder to the new one. Pathfinder/TAB can help with the conversion.
Isn’t this a lot of work?
It can be but Pathfinder/TAB can help. We can provide you with new end tab files with the identification information already labeled and ready to go. We can even supply people to come in and shift the contents of the old files into the new ones and place them in the new system.
How do you determine the size of the system?
Typically, the Pathfinder/TAB representative will conduct a file survey to determine the linear feet of files currently used. Then, we will determine if some of the material can be destroyed or moved off site. We then need to determine the anticipated growth for the next few years. With that final estimate and based on the number of users, the frequency of use and the room dimensions we can choose a size for the system. Pathfinder/TAB provides a CAD layout of the system or we can e-mail an AutoCAD of the system to be placed directly into the plans.
What is the difference between a Databox system and metal shelves?
The Databox system is made up of plastic file boxes than hang on rails instead of traditional metal shelves. The advantage is that these boxes can be moved along the rails with the files or shifted to other levels quickly. This is a huge help when you have a level or row that is full and more files need to be added. With metal shelves, you must grab groups of files and pile them while trying to make space. This is a time consuming and frustrating process. However, metal shelves can be less expensive and sometimes take up slightly less space.
What if I buy fixed shelves this year and next year I find I need a mobile filing system. Do I have to get rid of the shelves and start again?
No. All of the various styles of shelf filing sold by Pathfinder/TAB can be converted to mobile filing, including some cabinets.
When we are re-filing, we put files on top of the cabinets. What will we do with taller shelves?
Many offices find it practical to get a file cart to assist in this process. Another practical solution is the retractable work shelf. This is a thin shelf that that rolls out from between two levels to hold files temporarily and then retracts when you are finished.
What is the difference between an electrical assist mobile system and a mechanical assist?
Mechanical assist systems are the most common. These systems gears do most of the work moving the shelves. You simply rotate the handle and the system does the rest. Electrical assist systems have electric motors to handle the movement of the shelves. These are more prevalent in the largest or most active systems. Typically, an electrically assisted system will cost 20 to 30 percent more than a mechanically assisted system.
What about Safety?
Mechanical assist systems can be ordered with a lock on the handle so that when you are in an aisle, no one can move the system. This feature is standard on electrical assist systems. Safety sweeps are also standard on all Pathfinder/TAB electrical assist mobile systems. These sweeps are panels extending the full length of both sides at the base of the shelves. If the system starts to move, anyone in the aisle can touch the panel with their foot immediately disabling the system. Additional safety features are also available.
Can you lock a mobile system?
Yes, the system can be made to lock. However, often it is less expensive or more convenient to make the room secure rather than the system.
How long does the installation take?
Installation takes place over 3 to 5 days or even more for a large system.
What disruption can I expect?
You will need some “swing ” space. When the system arrives, you will need space for the system before it can be assembled. This space needs to be near where the system is to be assembled but not the same space as the floor assembly takes at least a day. There will also be drilling into the floor. This usually takes place on the first day and can be disruptive for your office or anyone else nearby. You will also need space for your existing files to be held until the system is ready.
What about my carpet?
To install a system we must remove the existing carpet. Re-installation of existing carpet is not recommended. Often it is better to install new carpet on top of the new floor. You may wish to co-ordinate a carpet installer to work with our people during the installation. Alternatively, this can be done after the installation is completed. This approach may be more time consuming for the carpet installer. Pathfinder/TAB can install our own carpet or vinyl flooring during the installation to eliminate scheduling difficulties. VCT or tile is not recommended for installation on wooden decks.
What about weight?
Mobile file systems when loaded do weigh a substantial amount. When your system is designed, your quotation will show a weight for the system in both unloaded and loaded states. The paper media weighs much more than the system itself. The full floor load will be shown on a separate sheet included with your quote. Pathfinder/TAB needs someone to sign off on that floor load before we can proceed with the order. In the past, when weight was an issue, we have reduced the number of levels and increased the number of aisles to lessen the load.
How does a mobile system affect the fire code?
Right now, the local fire code says that there must be at least 18″ between the top of the system and the sprinkler heads. To accomplish this sometimes it is necessary to uses lower profile shelving or carriages. It may be necessary to raise the ceiling in that area to meet the code and space requirements.
Can the systems be moved?
The larger systems can typically be dismantled and reinstalled in another location. New decking and rails are required in these situations.
We may be moving around a bit. Do you have a more “portable” system?
Yes, we carry a modular manual system that can easily be dismantled by and moved by our service people. This system goes directly on top of the carpet or tile floor.
What services does Pathfinder/TAB provide?
- Pathfinder/TAB will review your current file structure and classification system and make recommendations if necessary.
- Pathfinder/TAB will review you storage needs and make suggestions about equipment that might be most suitable.
- Pathfinder/TAB will design the system to your requirements providing a CAD layout and system weight estimates.
- Pathfinder/TAB installs the equipment.