STEELWORK - Range of Structures and Scale of Construction.

Structural steelwork for industrial use is characterized by its function, which is primarily concerned with the support, protection and operation of plant and equipment. In scale it ranges from simple support frameworks for single tanks,motors or similar equipment, to some of the largest integrated steel structures, for example complete electric power-generating facilities.

Whereas conventional single- and multi-storey structures provide environmental protection to space enclosed by walls and roof and, for multi-storey buildings, support of suspended floor areas, these features are never dominant in industrial steelwork. Naturally, in many industrial structures, the steel framework also  provides support for wall and roof construction to give weather protection, but where this does occur the wall and roof profiles are designed to fit around and suit the industrial plant and equipment, frequently providing lower or different standards of protection in comparison with conventional structures. Many plant installations are provided only with rain shielding; high levels of insulation are unusual, and some plant and equipment is able to function and operate effectively without any weather protection at all. In such circumstances the requirements for operational and maintenance personnel dictate the provision of cladding, sheeting or decking.

Similarly, most industrial steelwork structures have some areas of conventional floor construction, but this is not a primary requirement and the flooring is incidental to the plant and equipment installation.

Floors are provided to allow access to and around the installation, being arranged to suit particular operational features.They are therefore unlikely to be constructed at constant vertical spacing or to be laid out on plan in any regular repetitive pattern.

Steelwork designers must be particularly careful not to neglect the importance of two factors. First, floors cannot automatically be assumed to provide a horizontal wind girder or diaphragm to distribute lateral loadings to vertical-braced or framed bays: openings, missing sections or changes in levels can each destroy this action.

Secondly, column design is similarly hampered by the lack of frequent and closely spaced two-directional lateral support commonly available in normal multi-storey structures.

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