Industrial Structures: Designing Industrial Structures with Precast/Prestressed Concrete

No matter what sector the building may be for, whether it’s manufacturing, food processing, distribution, or any other industrial application, utilizing precast as the primary building material lends itself nicely. By essentially becoming another piece of equipment whose function is to provide the platform for a smooth process flow, this option not only leads to a quick return on investment but also helps maximize operational efficiency.

Using precast can result in a quicker return on investment by first and foremost shortening the overall lead time on the building. It’s no secret that precast has very beneficial aspects in regards to construction schedule, but those are only enhanced when a total precast building system is used, as is often the case for industrial markets. Precast production can begin shortly after shop drawings are approved, generally around the same time that site work begins, so as soon as portions of the site are ready, precast components can start to be delivered and installed. The total precast aspect means that as the precast is installed, the building enclosure is essentially ready to have specialty equipment installed, often at the same time as the precast to utilize the same installation equipment. Going with interior finish options on the precast that are adequate for a finished wall product eliminates the need for any additional materials to be installed after the precast, minimizing trades that need to be on site during construction and the coordination beforehand. Even for buildings that include windows, Wells can literally provide a wall enclosure system from in-to-out in a single piece as soon as it arrives on site. The windows can be installed at the plant, which is also where stringent finishes often required by USDA specifications are achieved, so work required at site is minimal.

A total precast system has the flexibility to either be designed around specific equipment or to provide an open layout to be used in whatever manner is needed at that time. The layout of the building can also be used to seamlessly incorporate elements such as shipping and receiving loading docks, planned future expansions utilizing current elements of the building, and interior walls that double as fire, sound, or thermal barriers. Concrete performs excellently as a fire barrier and as a sound barrier, making it ideal to enclose rooms that have a fire hazard associated with them or contain loud equipment. This can reduce noise in the facility, and enclosing the building in architectural precast not only aids in reducing the overall noise effect of the facility on the surrounding area but can help what otherwise might be large, intimidating structures blend in. Interior walls can also be insulated to separate rooms with different thermal requirements, whether it be for sensitive equipment or food storage or production. All of this is inherent while still being a low maintenance, durable material that can withstand the sometimes necessary harsh environments present. Along with this, special steel materials and sealants are provided in these cases, typically dictated in the specifications, to match the durability of the concrete.

Using the precaster as a resource early on in the building framing process is highly recommended for these types of buildings. Not only does this allow us to get a handle on the specifics as they are being nailed down, but we may be able to find more economical situations to achieve the same end result and we can start sizing members to bring attention to any conflicts and work around clearance requirements. Building with precast in industrial applications allows for the needed structure to be provided quickly, and perform with superior attributes in both the short-term and long-term. This lets the owner get to work and gives them peace of mind that they’ll be able to stay focused on handling day-to-day business. For more information on the specifics for precast of each industrial market follow the link below, otherwise feel free to contact Wells Concrete with any questions.

PCI Designing with Precast

Chase Radue, EIT
Design Engineer