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Modern warehouse design driving down costs for UK business

Posted by Mark
November 18, 2014 in Features

A new approach to composite panel construction is helping to slash the costs of warehouse design and construction. Known as single-envelope technology, it complements the improvements in insulation and thermal protection offered by composite panels, improving further the performance of warehouse construction, as well as speeding up lead times for the build.

Cost efficient and green

One of the biggest costs in warehouse construction is the length of time from first striking ground to client handover. Reducing these lead times, just one of the benefits of single-envelope technology, can boost the cost effectiveness of a project.

The technology is also helping firms to reduce the size of their carbon footprint, both in construction and through the lifetime of the build through reducing HVAC costs.

The move to the new method of construction is increasingly replacing the traditional concrete and masonry approach. It is a lightweight method too, and yet the end results prove incredibly durable and much easier to maintain.

Cold hotspot

Where single-envelope cladding is really leading a charge is in cold storage. Thanks to its increased insulation and thermal control properties, build costs and running costs are significantly reduced.

A stellar example can be found by looking at Wisbech, in Cambridgeshire. Encompassing a total  warehouse flooring  warehouse flooring capacity of 77,000 pallets, the high bay reaches a peak height of 35m. The total flooring space is spread over an area of 175m x 88m and uses 36,000m² of composite panelling.

Through the approach, the costs of the project were slashed by around 20%, with the project completed 20% faster than a traditional building programme would have been able to deliver.

The build was still reportedly challenging one, requiring the building to have a clear one-hour fire safety rating up to one elevation. It was also necessary for the warehouse racking to perform to very high floor loading.

Additionally, it required a more careful assessment of the location in which the warehouse would sit. Everything from the ambient temperature ranges to the wind cycles had to be thoroughly assessed, ensuring the building was able to remain airtight and have a tolerance of expansion and shrinkage up to 40mm.

The final solution delivered a facility that is able to work under normal operations even with oxygen depletion too – reducing it from a 20% level to just 15%.

This is a perfectly acceptable level for safe and healthy employee working conditions but, critically, it ensures that fire cannot burn. This in turn leads to further cost savings, through better optimised fire prevention and sprinkler systems, and lower insurance premiums from the premises.

Room for growth

Despite the growth in the single-envelope approach, there are still just four such large facilities in the UK, including the one in Wisbech. However, with less land needed for the build, lower construction costs, lower operational costs, and lower levels of capital investment, the rate of growth is expected to be high.

More projects are already in the pipeline across the country, while others are already under construction, as temperature-controlled industries start to push the envelope for their logistical solutions.

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