Something inside so strong
04 June 2019
HTS Industrial tackles the question of whether temporary warehouses are strong enough?
Temporary and semi-permanent modular buildings are a long-established option in the warehouse operator’s tool box, but some potential customers question the strength of such structures. Here, HTS Industrial equips managers with some key advice on what to look for.
How strong are temporary warehouses?
A misguided perception of temporary warehouses can sometimes be they are not strong enough for long-term industrial use. Perhaps this is the aluminium ‘tent’ like frame, or the fact they are referred to as temporary, or just misinformation. Whatever leads people to this conclusion, the point is it’s incorrect.
Temporary warehouses are engineered and built for long-term industrial use, and can be used in place of a steel warehouse or a traditional building. The main reason they are classed as ‘temporary’ is because they ‘can be’. The installation process of anchoring onto existing concrete surfaces means they can be easily dismantled and removed and therefore used for temporary/hire applications as well as long-term permanent needs.
What standards do they meet?
In order to be installed for long-term use any structure needs to be able to be strong enough to withstand the maximum snow and wind loads of a region, or ideally a local site.
For example, a site based on the coast could be in the same ‘region’ as a site 50 miles in-land, but the wind tolerances would probably need to be much higher for the coastal site. Similarly with altitude, but with snow loading needing more consideration as well in this case.
A temporary warehouse must meet whatever building codes are relevant for a country or region in terms of Loading for Buildings in order to be used on a long-term basis – ie months / years, instead of days / weeks for an event structure. In the UK it is Building Code BS-6399.
What makes them stronger?
Calculating a structure to BS 6399 in this country means it meets the minimum requirements of this standard, which makes it strong, safe and durable, long-term. Temporary warehouses and other structures can however sometimes be structural calculated and manufactured to a higher level of strength to accommodate greater wind and snow loading tolerances.
A good example of this is when HTS recently engineered, manufactured and installed a temporary warehouse in the Chilean Andes, 5,000m above sea level.
The altitude was a significant factor, but more serious than that was the fact the warehouse was being built in a major earthquake zone and therefore needed to comply with the Chilean anti-seismic building codes – basically earthquake proof!
The main reason HTS could accommodate this request, and many others where bespoke structural calculations (basically stronger buildings) are required is because they have our own in-house design and engineering team and advanced production facilities. So as long as they can design the structure accurately in line with whatever building codes they are given, they can produce it.
For many suppliers installing ‘off-the-shelf’ temporary warehouses, this isn’t the case. It’s a one size fits all in terms of frame size and structural credibility.
For the customer though this can sometimes be minefield and you can end up using a warehouse that is not strong enough for your site or region and potentially not safe enough.
What makes them not strong enough?
There are two things to clearly look out for if you’re thinking of using temporary warehouses.
First, ask to see the structural calculations of the building and show them to an engineer if you’re not sure.
Secondly, be wary of hiring or buying a temporary warehouse from a supplier that is taking it from ex-hire stock.There is the potential for the frame to be out of warranty, perhaps having seen 10+ years of use. There is even the possibility the building will be made up of mismatched components, some older than others, some even from different systems. All of these factors might weaken a structure.
If you can, always use a brand-new factory ordered temporary warehouse or structure whether it’s for a short or long-term use.