What's in vogue for industrial estates?

Article4 min03 August 2017By Angela Young

Industrial tenants gain from greater building efficiencies and better products.

The days when construction materials were limited to bricks, steel and concrete – or, in the case of many industrial estates, corrugated iron – are long gone.

Construction companies now have a much wider choice of materials and methods. As well as the advantages this evolution offers the builder, the new materials also benefit the end user. Namely, the tenant.

Industrial facilities typically start with a prefabricated steel portal frame structure, which can be built offsite then transported for erection when needed.

Illustrating that there are no set and forget methods in today’s dynamic construction industry, some companies have started to examine the potential of timber portal frames. Timber frames are yet to take off as an industrial building base in Australia, but they offer a key benefit over steel frames when it comes to fire resistance. It may seem counter intuitive, but there’s plenty of evidence to suggest that while steel can suddenly melt in a fire, the char on the outside of a thick timber post tends to protect the wood inside from decomposition.

As well as the frame, the walls can also be prefabricated. Precast concrete wall panels can be manufactured offsite, then delivered and bolted together shortly after the portal frame is erected – a process which can save many hours of building time and offer greater speed to market.

But perhaps the ultimate in prefabrication is a new construction trend you may have noticed popping up on industrial estates around the country: the use of old shipping containers. Built to withstand heavy loads and stacking, the sturdy units can form the basis of industrial office spaces, café facilities, or practically anything else you can think of. They boast plenty of inbuilt advantages, not least of which is cost and time savings.

There’s no stopping technological innovation when it comes to other parts of the building, either.

Danpalon was used in the construction of Toshiba's facility at Quarry at Greystanes

Natural light

Danpalon is a flat, dual-skinned translucent sheet that can dramatically raise the lighting quotient of interiors. It is used as cladding, roofing, skylights and shading. Available in a range of colours to funk up aesthetics, many architects find it more attractive than the traditional polycarbonate roofing materials that have met this need for so long. Danpalon has better thermal qualities than Colorbond steel, so it’s a winner on heat protection as well as light provision.

Use of Danpalon enables lights to be switched off during the day in even the largest warehouses, saving power bills and providing a more natural environment for workers.

Klip-lok roofing is a concealed fixing roof cladding system that does not require screwing into the roof sheet, and thus minimises the potential for roof leaks. That’s excellent news in a world expecting more extreme weather events


Another new development is klip-lok roofing, a system that does not require holes to be screwed into the roof. That’s excellent news in a world expecting more extreme weather events.

The beneath-the-roof sheet fixing detail uses a bracket arrangement that both negates the need for leak-inducing holes and also prevents ice accumulating at fixing points. That results in a better product warranty and a greater sense of security from the weather for tenants.

Insulation is a key consideration for companies, in light of rising global temperatures and the trend towards better staff comfort. So another new component appearing among roofing membranes, the insulation-backed Sisalation, is welcome. The new material is an improvement on the regular aluminium foil-like Sisalation. It has an additional blue backing that not only prevents moisture build-up, but can also help a structure’s thermal insulation. It’s a brilliant example of improving a material already in use.

Klip-lok roofing

Customisation and temperature control

A growing preference for logistics and automation within warehouses, plus enormous racking apparatus, is leading to a demand for buildings built to specifications – something that’s now entirely possible for any company with a particularly large requirement needing housing under their roof.

Temperature control, too, can be about more than just air conditioning and staff comfort levels. For food and pharmaceuticals providers, for example, temperature fluctuation can be catastrophic for the product. That’s where refrigerated panel walls come in. Kingspan and Bondor are two manufacturers of insulated wall panels, which can be anywhere from 65mm to 150mm thick. The Styrofoam-based panels are constructed to maintain their integrity and performance over the long-term.

The future, it seems, has a longer lifespan today!



And finally, if your company is running machinery behemoths under its roof, you don’t have to panic too much about power bills these days. Many industrial constructors now prefer to create buildings structurally sound enough to withstand future solar installations. It’s better for both tenant and builder if the construction has taken into account where solar panels can be fitted, and what support they will need if your cost-benefit analysis decides that they will be a worthwhile expense.

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