Photo courtesy of Jetstar Airways. Creative Commons License.
When used for commercial, industrial building applications, steel shines. Most industries – food, oil & gas, wind energy, agriculture, automotive, and manufacturers, for example – currently utilize steel buildings extensively. Steel structures are used in almost every way imaginable: as offices, as storage sheds, as operations and maintenance buildings, as factories, the list goes on and on. Steel is usually the first choice when it comes to industrial uses and here’s why:
Its strength has been proven. Steel, while it has always been strong, has increased in strength in the past 10 years. In fact, the increase alone of strength used today, compared to that of 10 years ago, is greater than the total strength of other materials that call themselves “high strength,” according to The American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC). To put it simply, steel is much stronger than anything out there! AISC also notes that structural steel has a yield stress of 50 ksi. This means that it can handle 50,000 pounds per square inch in both compression and tension. High strength concrete has a yield stress of a mere 12-15 ksi. Steel is lighter than concrete, yet can bear more weight, resulting in a lighter, less expensive building.
A steel building is made to last. Those is the industrial world don’t want to maintain, redo, and rebuild their buildings every 5-10 years. When things need to keep moving and businesses need to keep producing, any sort of downtime is costly and unproductive. Maintenance and rebuilding is expensive. That’s why it is best to choose something that can last 30-40 years with minimal maintenance. Steel is that something.
Steel buildings allow for long, wide, open spaces. This is especially important for industrial purposes. Take an airplane hangar, for example. Large airplanes can’t park in the building if there are a lot of columns supporting the ceiling. Steel buildings, depending on their size, require little to no columns to support the weight of the steel. Airplanes, machinery, combines, trucks, and even wind turbine parts will be able to be stored inside with ease.
The designs can be flexible. Many industrial buildings need more than a big, open space to store machines. They also need insulated offices for people to work in. This can definitely be accomplished with steel. The office portion can be designed with any style in mind in order to give the business a professional storefront. Also, steel buildings are easily modifiable, even while occupied, in case the business grows. There will be little disruption to workflow when it comes time to expand.
Steel buildings are fast to erect. Many parts of a steel building can be prefabricated to exact specifications off site. When the parts arrive on site, they can be put together quickly and easily, compared to other materials like wood, brick, and concrete. This allows the frame to be created quickly so other subcontractors can come in right away and do their work and so the building owners can occupy the building sooner.