Sunday 23rd Oct 2016 - Logistics Manager

Relocatable storage increasing in popularity

Nowadays, fewer and fewer companies hold stock and product reserves on site, as this can often tie up critical cash requirements. More and more businesses are following the just-in-time (JIT) route, i.e. ordering up product to meet orders as they are placed. Also, other factors such as the development of electronic communications, like e-mail and Internet use have added to the pressures to provide instant and flexible storage to meet changing demand patterns.

One obvious solution to the problem is to simply store product, if it is relatively weatherproof and of low value, in the open air. However this strategy is becoming increasingly questionable as regulations make the physical covering and protection of product necessary.

A number of companies are now meeting the market’s need for a rapid storage response by providing relocatable, flat storage buildings as an alternative to traditional solutions. These buildings are extremely rugged, meet stringent standards, and are made of a steel framework – usually glavanized – covered in PVC impregnated polyester fabric. They offer many advantages over traditional storage amenities. In the first instance, they are more economical and quicker to install, furthermore they are not hampered by many of the planning requirements associated with other buildings.

The result is a storage facility that is erected in weeks, rather than months. Just as they are easy to erect they are easy to dismantle too, and so provide a cost-effective storage solution that can be moved at short notice, from location to location, to meet demand as and where needed. Furthermore, relocatable buildings are flexible in design format and can be provided with steel or metal sides as required, with easy to move interior retaining walls as well.

Gateshead company Rubb Buildings provided such a building recently in Cumbria where the Port of Workington is now benefiting from the ability to provide high quality storage requirements, thanks to the recent construction of two relocatable Rubb buildings (25mspan x 32m long and 25m span x 60m long). The brief was to provide storage facilities for animal feed, which needed to be completely secure against weather and light. There was also a design requirement for the units to provide split storage usage.

Ray Colby, sales manager of Rubb Building’s UK division, explains the solution to the client’s problems: “Because that part of the West Coast of England is susceptible to severe winds and rain, the building was purpose-designed to meet these conditions, taking into account the fact that it was to be erected on top of a 4m high retaining wall. The walls comprise a steel support structure complete with pre-stressed concrete infill panels, allowing for quick and easy construction. This method not only provides a fully sealed facility to prevent water ingress, but also allows for internal retaining walls to be built for different storage needs.”

Colby continues: “In addition, the client required a dark covered structure as animal feed is susceptible to light. However, clearer PVC material can be used to provide a brighter working environment without the need for real windows.”

Apart from the advantages of lower costs and speed of erection – the contract was completed within four months – Colby says that Rubb buildings are flexible enough to be built on ground susceptible to differential settlement, and have much lower maintenance costs then traditional storage facilities.

Another important benefit of relocatable storage is its ability to meet critical requirements such as climate control and dust and odour containment. Rubb Buildings’ associate company in the US, Rubb Inc in Sanford Maine, has just completed two such contracts.

When Silver and Baryte, North America, Inc. needed a state-of-the-art bulk storage facility for perlite, it again turned to Rubb, which had previously provided two bulk storage facilities to its predecessor company Eastern Industrial Minerals in 1998 and 2001. Silver and Baryte required the new facility, a 40m span x 132m long building, to serve its customer base in the southern US, near the Gulf of Mexico.

The new facility, sited near Mobile, Alabama, is equipped with a sophisticated dust containment system provided by Wheelabrator Corp in Canada. In addition, the structure has large 5m x 5m roller shutter doors in each gable end to facilitate the loading and unloading of large trucks. The new facility is ideally situated on a deep water port so that shiploads of material can be transported and stored for nearby clients who require delivery of perlite to match their production schedules.

Another critical storage requirement was met in Brunswick, Georgia, where Logistec needed to replace aging wooden covers for two circular bulk storage facilities and contacted Rubb Inc to design, fabricate, deliver and install two 35.4m diameter custom dome covers. The material being stored in bulk was urea, a material used in fertilizers which, because of its chemical properties, required a departure from Rubb’s usual practice of post fabrication hot dip galvanizing.

With this in mind, the black steel frame was delivered to site and painted with a special paint to protect it from the corrosive components associated with urea. Tensioned over these steel structures was heavy-duty PVC-coated, polyester membranes. In addition to these covers, Rubb also designed a custom canopy to link the two structures during transfer of materials. n