How a Turnkey Supplier of Fabric Buildings Can Save Time and Money
Meghan Brown posted on December 23, 2016 |
Legacy Building Solutions’ range of custom fabric and steel frame buildings bring cost savings for c...

(Image courtesy of Legacy Building Solutions.)

(Image courtesy of Legacy Building Solutions.)

Manufacturers know that quick-to-build facilities for factory space or storage present unique challenges in their construction. Will a clear span for tall machinery and long production lines be necessary? How can operations be established in a remote or inhospitable location?

These requirements and more add complexity to a project, and the longer it takes from breaking ground to operation, the greater the costs in both construction and lost productivity.

So, what’s the solution? A turnkey supplier of fabric structures can provide cost-effective solutions to tough structural challenges such as clear span requirements and working in remote locations.

Requiring a High Bay Height and Wide, No-Column Span for Production Equipment or Storage

Historically, manufacturing plants with space free from support columns tended to be very long, but were limited in width by the available span of trusses for roofing.

Columns are difficult for manufacturers to work around, because they significantly constrict the ways in which a plant’s machinery and production lines can be laid out. This creates issues for everything from on-floor material handling to safety – especially when the structure can’t support the load of systems such as overhead cranes, lifts and trolleys.

Clear span structures, also known as free span or open span, feature no interior columns. This allows for floor plans that can accommodate complex production lines and storage of large vehicles or equipment, such as airplanes, mining, forestry and transportation equipment.

Custom Fabric Structures Can Be Engineered for Any Height and Width

Fabric and steel frame structures offer an ideal solution to the challenge of clear span structural requirements. A company such as Legacy Building Solutions can offer highly engineered open-span fabric structures that will allow any facility to use the most advantageous and efficient layout for their production lines.

“We can go 400 feet wide without support problems, and that’s at any length, any height,” said Ben Fox, President & CEO of Legacy Building Solutions, a provider of industrial fabric structures.

(Image courtesy of Legacy Building Solutions.)
(Image courtesy of Legacy Building Solutions.)

Clear span buildings adhere to the same rigorous safety standards and building codes as conventional column-supported structures. In a well-engineered clear span building, the weight of both the building as well as any additional weight placed on the structure is transferred to the walls and foundation. Legacy’s engineers can help custom design a clear span building with the same flexibility as conventional structures, including adding large doors and supporting hanging loads such as cranes and overhead conveyors.

“Our fabric cladding and steel beam design allows for unlimited design flexibility,” said Fox. “This includes adding, cranes and conveyors, catwalks and so on. From the initial concept through the fabrication and installation, we take care of every step and can really customize to the needs of each structure.”

This means that it’s easy to add on to an existing fabric or brick and mortar structure to extend operational space, whether it is to add new production lines, new machinery or expand the overall operations. 

Having a customizable, clear span fabric building will therefore save money and time by allowing manufacturers to plan and utilize the most efficient plant layout possible.

Installing fabric roof panels on a Legacy fabric structure. (Image courtesy of Legacy Building Solutions.)
Installing fabric roof panels on a Legacy fabric structure. (Image courtesy of Legacy Building Solutions.)

A great example is when the best production floor plan requires that tall equipment be situated somewhere other than along the center line. 

“If you need an offset peak, for example to position a conveyor in a better location, we can engineer the structure so that the building peak and your conveyor are exactly where you need them,” said Fox.

Also, the materials used in fabric structures are easily packed for transportation to any build site. “The fabric is rolled into bundles, and we would put them on a truck and transport them to any location, no matter how remote,” Fox said.

Remote and Off-Grid Locations Introduce Environmental Challenges

A fabric building installed in the Andes mountains. (Image courtesy of Legacy Building Solutions.)

A fabric building installed in the Andes mountains. (Image courtesy of Legacy Building Solutions.)

Alternatively, construction challenges may not come from what’s inside a structure, but rather what’s outside.  Facilities may need to be close to outdoor operations – wherever those operations are located. 

Building in remote or harsh environments can involve environmental factors that must be taken into consideration. Temperature, rainfall, snowfall and intense sunlight need to be compensated for in the design process. Other locations may have unstable sandy or rocky ground. 

The last consideration is whether the operations are far away from critical infrastructure such as power grids, leaving no easy access to electrical power.

Building in remote areas can therefore be both costly and time consuming.  Finding construction companies with the ability – and the willingness – to work in these areas can be challenging, especially when one contractor can put in a foundation, but another must be hired to build the structure itself.

Fabric Structures Can Be Customized to Both Location and Environment

Fabric structures can surmount these challenges with full-service installation of both the foundation and the structure itself. A supplier like Legacy offers several foundation options, along with the engineering expertise to help circumvent the challenges of remote locations.

  • Cast-in-Place Concrete: Used for most traditional structures, this common foundation option is also suitable for many fabric structure installations. The foundations are comprised of poured concrete walls, floors, grade beams and reinforced piers at or just above grade.
  • Pre-Cast Concrete: Depending on the size of the structure, pre-cast concrete blocks and panels can be an ideal cost effective option, saving both time and money during the building process.  Not only is installation less labor-intensive than poured concrete, but precast blocks are portable. The blocks can be trucked into a remote location for construction, reducing the costs associated with installation and/or relocating the building should operations need to move.
  • Earth Anchors, Screw Piles and Helicals: Requiring minimal to no excavation, these foundation components are quick to install. These are perfect for environments where subsurface objects can not be disturbed. Helical anchors are an especially good foundation for a fabric structure expected to be relocated.

Even a remote location in the Andes will still need the best structure available. (Image courtesy of Legacy Building Solutions.)

Even a remote location in the Andes will still need the best structure available. (Image courtesy of Legacy Building Solutions.)

Additionally, a variety of fabric types and insulation options are available to custom-suit any environment.

Snow load can pose serious safety risks, so structures must be strong enough to hold up under heavy snow loads.

“Our roofs have been engineered to support 250 pounds per square foot of snow load,” said Fox.

For off-grid operations where electricity and lighting is the main concern, fabric buildings can be very beneficial. Not only are the steel frames used in construction strong enough for roof-mounted solar panels to provide electricity, there are many fabric options that allow natural light to augment interior lighting.

“In an uninsulated building, depending on the fabric you use, you’ll get up to around 11 percent translucency, which can easily suffice on a day with decent sunlight,” Fox said. “If you are in an insulated building, then the lining that we would use to protect the insulation is a bright white, which really magnifies the light that’s inside the structure. Ultimately, it requires less lighting to create the same amount of visibility inside the building.”

Why a Turnkey Provider of Fabric Structures Is Cost Effective

For the most cost-effective installation of fabric structures, a dedicated turnkey provider offers a one-stop construction experience, from design to installation to operation. Ultimately, this means lower costs and quicker time to completion.

As a turnkey provider, Legacy Building Solutions handles all aspects of the building process with a staff of building and design experts, who can help at any level the customer needs.

“We have worked with everybody from experienced engineers to clients with little to no construction experience and don’t even know what they need for permits,” Fox said. “We can explain what they need for permits or equipment and materials and we’ll help them through the process.”

The engineering experts at Legacy can custom design a fabric structure to meet specific project requirements, as well as applicable building codes, using industry-proven CAD and FEA software. Because a turnkey operator keeps the whole process in-house it is much easier to customize the design of structures to suit the customer’s needs both inside and out.

Examples of CAD designs for custom roof and structure options. (Image courtesy of Legacy Building Solutions.)
Examples of CAD designs for custom roof and structure options. (Image courtesy of Legacy Building Solutions.)

As with any project, however, it is still best to give as much lead time as possible for the project. “Lead time requirements will vary,” said Fox. “We could start construction in a couple weeks, or sometimes it takes six months from design to operation.”

The cost savings that come from a turnkey solution in terms of maintenance and repair are also significant. “We have a warranty on all our buildings, and the only maintenance that we require is for the building owner to do periodic inspections,” said Fox.

Punctures or tears are rare, Fox added, “But they are absolutely repairable. We can either talk the building owner through how to patch a tear and supply the materials for them to do it themselves, or we can come out to look at it and complete the repairs.”

Finally, there’s the fabric building’s appearance. While specific fabric choice will still depend on the application, the customization options available from Legacy include color choices and branding.

“We have six standard colors to choose from, and if you want a custom color those are absolutely available, too. We can also incorporate company logos onto the fabric cladding,” Fox said.

Want to learn more about how fabric and steel structures can save you costs? Visit the Legacy Building Solutions website.

Legacy Building Solutions has sponsored this post.  All opinions are mine. --Meghan Brown

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