Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Commercial Design Tips For Livening Up Your Workplace

Anyone who works in commercial design will be familiar with the client who walks in and quickly becomes stuck with the direction of the project. Most of the time, this is because there is simply so much you can do with a workplace that they have no idea where to start. Other times, it is because the client is more familiar with residential design and are, therefore, completely unaware of the potential that their workplace holds. Here are some tips that can help you to liven up a commercial space:


Most clients envisioning a 'professional' commercial design will automatically steer towards white or grey colour palettes; fortunately, professional doesn't have to equal dull. You should try to pick a colour that embodies the personality of your business - bold shades can actually be quite energizing, whilst calm hues can help to create a serene environment.


This is often an area that many clients tend to neglect until the end or forget about altogether. Try using a variety of light sources and even fixtures to create points of interest within your workplace. Why not install some creative pendants in your reception area simply for a decorative touch? Or add some coloured lighting to the walls to add that special touch.


Many clients will be looking for ways that they can prevent their commercial design from becoming too flat and uniform; this is where the use of multiple textures comes in. You could paint some of your walls and cover others with wooden slats or embossed panels. Just make sure that you use similar materials on all of your surfaces to tie the whole design together.


When clients have quite a large workplace to work with, space dividers are often a vital part of the commercial design, as they can be used to stop the space from feeling cavernous. Use glass partitions or screens to separate areas without cutting off their natural light sources; use opaque or more solid ones for areas that require an amount of privacy; and use unexpected materials for added pop.

When it comes to putting together a commercial design for a client who really has no idea what they want, you should try incorporating one or more of the above points in the plan to see how they are achieved. Whilst some clients will still want to stick to something stark and plain, it is likely that you will find other clients who are very open to these changes and are willing to make them work for their business.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

What Are the Benefits of Having in-Plant Offices?

Construction takes a lot of time and is usually expensive; many companies have to put construction projects on hold for precisely this reason. If there is a need to have an additional room built, or there is a need for more cabins to be made, the company will have to put the project on hold because it will take up time and cause a hindrance in the routine business activities. As a solution to these problems, the concept of in-plant offices has been introduced.

These modular constructions have been beneficial for all those who have wanted to maximize the use of space they have access to. Many businesses have wanted to maximize the use of floor space, and the space in warehouses and in-plant offices has proved to be beneficial for this purpose. These modular constructions are best for businesses that are restricted because of time limit and have few resources at their disposal to allow any construction projects. It's actually possible to construct a complete office within a few hours using these modular constructions!

There are other advantages linked to in-plant offices. Let's take a look at these. Firstly, when normal construction takes place, it's very disturbing and disruptive for the working environment. People are unable to work because of the noise and mess created by the construction taking place. This is not the case with modular construction. Construction does take place but without the noise and the mess created in the regular construction process.

Secondly, the process is a quick one. Those businesses who are pressed for time and have to make sure construction is completed quickly will find modular construction to be the best option for them. The time taken for regular construction is about 5 to 6 times more than the time needed for modular construction, so you can imagine the advantage you are at, in terms of time, with modular construction.

The use of modular wall panels in this construction allows these walls to be redesigned or changed later on, without any trouble. If you want to shift the cabin to another area of the room, you simple have to call the professionals who will take it apart and set it up for you once again, within a few minutes. This just goes to show that there is room to accommodate any sort of requirements that might come up later on, after the construction takes place.

Modular offices have a lower rate of depreciation in businesses because they are termed as furniture in the accounts of any company. This allows businesses to make savings and higher profits than they would have reported otherwise, if they had used the regular construction procedure for their business.

The maintenance required for these structures is low-cost and minimal, plus you can have any kind of designing that you want with these models, the models allow you the flexibly of choosing colors to paint them with as well.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Access Audit Advice

What is an Access Audit?

An Access Audit (also known as a DDA audit, Disability Discrimination Act Audit or Disabled Access Audit) is an assessment of a building, an environment or a service against best practice standards to benchmark it's accessibility to disabled people.

The audit should set out clear recommendations with priority ratings and costs to enable you to plan and budget for necessary adjustive works.

An access audit consultant should focus on reasonable adjustments, as is required by the Equality Act, thus avoiding unnecessary and costly measures which can often be seen within Audits prepared by less experienced and unqualified auditors.

So what is the DDA/Equality Act?

The Disability Discrimination Act came into force in 1996 and made it illegal to discriminate against a disabled person for reasons related to his or her disability. This covered the fields of employment, service provision, transport and education. The DDA required employers, service providers and education providers to make reasonable adjustments to avoid discrimination.

The Equality Act 2010 brought together all anti-discrimination legislation into one Act and covers disability, race, gender, religious, sex and age discrimination and supersedes the DDA but the requirements remain much the same.

The Equality Act has different requirements depending on whether you are an employer, service provider or an educational establishment. The best way to establish these is to speak to an Access Consultant who will advise how the Act applies to you.

How is the DDA/Equality Act enforced?

Unlike other statutory law there is no Local Authority or Government Officer who enforces the legislation it is left to an individual disabled person to bring a civil action against an organisation where they feel aggrieved.

Why do I need an Access Audit?

An Access Audit helps you to understand your obligations under the Equality Act. It identifies barriers to access, sets out options for removing these barriers, assesses which option is the most reasonable and then makes a clear recommendation as to which option to implement, when to do it and how much it will cost.

By having a DDA audit and then implementing it's recommendations you will be able to demonstrate that you have adopted a reasonable approach which will help you to defend a complaint or action brought against you by a disabled person but, more importantly you will be improving access for disabled people and, in all likelihood many other users.

The Equality Act Code of Practice states that the completion of an Access Audit by a 'suitably qualified person' will 'help service providers to meet their obligations under the Act'.

What should an Access Audit cover?

The scope of the audit will depend on how the Equality Act applies to you which an access consultant should discuss and agree with you before quoting. A thorough audit should generally cover all elements of your building and environment following the 'journey' of a disabled user. Typically an audit would cover:

    Approach and Car Parking
    Horizontal Circulation - corridors
    Lifts and Stairs
    Internal Doors
    Signage and Wayfinding
    Means of Escape for Disabled People

There are usually many other site specific elements which may also need to be covered so ensure you check these with your access audit consultant.

As section 3 of the Equality Act covers all elements of your service we can also offer audits of other services such as:

    Communication Audits (leaflets, menus guidebooks etc)
    Website Access Audits - checking accessibility for users with visual impairments and learning difficulties
    Policy and Procedure Audit - checking that you policies and procedures do not discriminate against disabled people

Our audits are presented in a user friendly format using photographs to illustrate each issue with clearly defined recommendations which are prioritised and costed. We are happy to supply an example on request.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Proper Setup And Execution For Dry Ice Blasting Historical Structures

Dry ice blasting any historical structure is a huge responsibility for a cleaning contractor. The owners are counting on your expertise and professionalism to...

A) Salvage their historic structure without the cost and time delays of replacing the classic, original materials with new, more modern, but less artistic building materials and...

B) Protect the job-site from flying debris, secondary waste and potentially hazardous, airborne dust, debris, toxins and hazardous wastes.

As a professional dry ice blasting contractor on a historical restoration project, your safety and compliance responsibilities include (but are not limited to) the following:

    Protect your Employees with the appropriate Personal Protection Equipment (PE's). Be sure that all employees have been trained in proper PPE use and are aware of what contaminants they might be expected to encounter on the job. Hold daily 'Toolbox Talks' to reinforce good behaviors and curtail bad practices before they become dangerous habits.

    Protect all other Trades and contractors by containing and isolating your work area. Construct appropriate work partitions and control pedestrian traffic, directing trades away from or around your work zone. Never allow other trades inside your work area unless absolutely necessary. Insist on detailed orientation sessions for any trade scheduled to work within your work zone and always include these trades in your daily Toolbox Talks and safety meetings for as long as they are working alongside you and your crew.

    Minimize Dust, flying debris and airborne particulate. Tight ambient controls are mandatory. Use filters, back-stops and seal all possible exfiltration potentialities. You are responsible for any and all debris you create and it will always be on your best interest to contain and control all the dust your create before it infiltrates other work areas and damages other structures.

    Air Quality! You are responsible to capture and treat all ambient air and control all air-flow in your work area. Dry ice blasting creates no breathing or safety hazards on its own, but the contaminants you are cleaning will likely become airborne. The air you contaminate is always your responsibility. Control every aspect of your work zone for maximum safety.

    Contain & Collect all hazardous materials such as lead-based paints, asbestos, heavy metal coatings, mold, mildew, char and misc contaminants. Wherever hazardous materials are present, tighten up your control methods to ensure job-site safety at all costs.

Of course, as important as containment and segregation is to ensuring the safety of your employees and the other trades on the building restoration site, it is also imperative that all modes of safe egress are maintained at all times.

Post exit strategies and alternate egress pathways at any place where your work zone interferes with the normal traffic routes, pathways and exits.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Before Building or Leasing a Building in Miami - 8 Point Checklist Prior to Purchase or Lease

I met with a prospective client yesterday who is looking to lease space for a pre-school facility. This space is going to need substantial remodeling in order to bring it to code. Here in Miami when a the use of a building is going to be changed, as in this case, from office space to a pre-school facility, the entire area must be brought up to the current building code. In the case of Miami, this means complying with the Florida Building Code.

What parts of the building may be affected? The Florida Building Code may require installing a new fire alarm system, a sprinkler system, increasing the number of plumbing fixtures, revamping the electrical and air-conditioning systems, adding accessible doors and entrances, and even adding insulation to the existing walls where there was none before. It may even require upgrading the structural system if a substantial portion needs to be revised due to the new programmatic requirements of the new use.

As I went through the list of things which had to be reviewed as noted above, I also remembered those things which prospective building owners fail to look at until they have already leased or purchased the building.

It is important that the following checklist be used, as a minimum, to analyze the potential of a building and its potential cost in remodeling:

    The zoning for the building. Would the use being considered for the building be acceptable in the zoning district in which it is located?

    If a later addition is being considered, then will the setbacks and Floor Area Ratio (FAR) allow for such an addition?

    Is the building on sewer line? If a building is presently on septic tank, and it is a commercial building, any substantial remodeling or addition would likely require that the building be connected to the sewer line. If the nearest sewer line is two blocks away, for example, that cost, which is in the many thousands of dollars, needs to be factored into the budget for the project. I have seen projects cancelled due to the exorbitant cost of bringing a sewer line to a commercial building. And is the sewer line of sufficient capacity for the proposed use? If an addition will be considered in the future, is the sewer line of sufficient size for the new addition?

    If it is an existing building and it dates from the 1970's or earlier, make sure that an asbestos report is done. Also consider doing lead and mold inspections as well. The building may be full of asbestos. This is quite costly to remove and should be factored into the buying price or in the budget for remodeling, if it is to be leased. You can read more about asbestos abatement in the Florida Statutes, http://www.leg.state.fl.us/Statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&Search_String=&URL=0400-0499/0469/Sections/0469.002.html.

    Is the building in a flood zone? The Federal government is the exclusive seller of flood insurance in this area. And they have a rule called the 50% rule. The 50% rule says that a "substantial improvement" cannot be undertaken to a building in a flood zone without raising the ground floor to the base floor elevation. A substantial improvement is defined as an addition or remodeling that will cost more the 50% of the building on the lot. Note that the cost of the lot is not included in the calculations.
    For example, suppose a two-story building with the lot appraises for $3,000,000. Let's say that the building itself is accessed at $700,000 then an addition or remodeling could be built that costs $350,000. However, it cannot cost $350,001, or the ground floor would have to be brought up to the base flood elevation. Suppose the ground floor of the building was originally built at 6'-0" NGVD and that the new base flood elevation calls for the new ground floor elevation to be at 10'-0". Bringing up the ground floor elevation 4'-0" higher is likely to be impossible because the existing second floor is still where it was. There will not be enough headroom when the ground floor is raised.

    Is the electrical service of sufficient capacity for the new use?

    Does the building have an entrance which is accessible to the handicapped? If it does have a ramp where the handicap can enter, does the ramp have the right slope?

    If the building is going to be subdivided, is there an elevator to the upper floors accessible to all the areas in the building?

Although each project may have more specifics which are important, these few questions, if answered in the affirmative prior to closing on the purchase of a building, or signing a long-term lease, will go a long way towards a good purchase or lease and a feasible remodeling project.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Historic Buildiing Restoration With Dry Ice Blast Cleaning

Historic building restoration requires serious considerations in a multitude of different processes. One of which, is the decision to remove and replace original building materials and structural elements or attempting to restore original materials and structural elements by carefully cleaning them.

When removing and replacing materials in a historic restoration project, much of the beauty and value of the original structure is forever lost. Modern building materials will never aesthetically match up to the original structural look and feel of an old historic building. And secondly, removing and replacing old, dirty or contaminated structural elements is an extremely expensive proposition; adding much undue cost and time to the project.

Of course, there will be situations that require certain elements of the historic structure are replaced. Not every element of an old historic building can be cleaned, reused or repurposed. But ultimately, the more materials that can be salvaged, cleaned and reused, the more successful the restoration project will be.

What Cleaning Method Offers The Best Results?

Once the structural engineers have determined what materials need to be replaced and what materials can be cleaned in place, it's time to decide which cleaning method is going to fulfill all the requirements.

To thoroughly clean and restore a historic structure, the chosen cleaning method must be:

    Safe: Construction projects are inherently dangerous. Adding risk to a restoration project by introducing a cleaning method that adds secondary waste, unnecessary chemicals, solvents or puts other trades at risk is definitely not a good option.

    Ecologically friendly: Using solvents, acids and harsh cleaning chemicals needlessly endangers operators, trades, secondary personnel and ultimately the environment. Historic restoration is rooted in the idea of saving and protecting our natural resources and historic structures. The appropriate cleaning method will respect and fulfill that goal without damage.

    Economical: With all the choices available, using the most effective and efficient means to clean is an obvious requirement. Dry ice blasting is the obvious choice here.

    Efficient: Time is money. Dry ice blasting is fast, effective and very efficient.

    Mobile: In order to clean historic structures in place, without dismantling, moving, replacing and rebuilding crucial elements, the cleaning method must be able to go to where the problems are.

    Clean: Does your cleaning method make a mess? CO2 blast cleaning does not add any secondary waste to the project and containment is a breeze, making clean-up fast and easy.

Once the structural engineers have decided what can be cleaned in place and you have chosen the best cleaning method to keep your project profitable, now it's time to find a responsible cleaning contactor to do the work.

In our next installment, we will explore what to look for in a dry ice cleaning contractor.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Advantages of Portable Buildings

Portable buildings are basically buildings that are manufactured in factories and the parts are shipped to the building site where they are assembled. Portable buildings are not always portable once they're constructed, the only reason they're named this is because they're shipped to you.

Advantages of portable office buildings:

There are plenty of advantages of portable office buildings, let's take a look at some of the many advantages that these marvels bring us:

They're cheaper

Before you think of anything else, you should know that these are a whole lot cheaper than building one from scratch using all the raw materials usually needed. The main reason being: less manual labour that is needed when most of the parts are manufactured in a factory.

Also, the factories would be able to manufacture them much faster than a team of individuals would ever be able to, so they can reduce the margin of their profits on each piece and still make a good profit on the whole. That's the reason you can get them at a cheaper rate.

Your choice on materials

The materials used in the construction vary and you can choose what you need. There are plenty of options and the manufacturers usually build a variety of structures. However, if you're not happy with what's being offered you could always give them a custom order.

Quick construction

Very often your office would need to shift due to unavoidable reasons and in such cases you may need a building to be built within months. In such cases you could opt for portable buildings as your workers would be able to get them up within weeks.

They're ready for use

Most of the portable office buildings that are manufacture come equipped with everything needed for your office such as electric connections, the necessary ducts and a lot of other necessary instalments too. Therefore, you would not need an expert electrician to plan the ducting system for your newly built office.

Expand your office instantly

You may already have a huge office set up, but as your business grows there's going to be a need to expand even further. If that's the case you would also need more office space and portable office buildings would be the best option.

The above reasons are just a few of the many reasons as to why portable offices are superior to the ordinary buildings. There are plenty of other benefits that you would receive when you opt for this kind of construction.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

What Are Portable Office Buildings?

If at all you want your business to be successful you're going to need to make sure that it keeps growing. Any phase where growth is halted is usually considered as a failure in the business world.

However, expanding a business in today's world is really difficult not just because of the competition; but, also the lack of time and space to construct your office buildings. Yes, with the expansion of your business you're also going to need more office room and to do this you would either have to rent out an office or build one up from scratch.

Portable office buildings are now taking over the world by storm due to their ease of construction and cheaper rates. They're basically buildings that are manufactured in a factory and transported to the building site in parts where they are re-assembled. That's the main reason as to why they're usually used when people need temporary office space.

They're really easy to construct

These buildings are really easy to construct as there's not much that you need to do. There's absolutely no wood that needs to be cut and no metal needs to be forged. To top it up, most of the portable buildings come along with in built ducts and electrical sockets as well. There's no need to hire an electrician to set up your AC's and computers!

Don't use them just for temporary purposes

Even though most businesses use portable office buildings just for temporary purposes, you shouldn't do that. If you were smart you would use them as a permanent office site as they're cheaper, possess the same strength as other constructed buildings and are really easy to construct.

They're huge and small at the same time

Usually whenever people think of portable buildings they consider them to be something really small, more like a garage. Of course, you do get portable garages, but when it comes to portable buildings you've got a lot of options to pick from.

There are a few that are multi-storey apartments and others really huge offices and most of them are made up of a metal skeleton. But, if you want your home or office to be built up of wood there are plenty of wood based portable buildings too.

However, if you do opt for a portable building and are planning on using it for a long term, go ahead and pick the metal skeletons as they're sturdy and can withstand blizzards, storms and many other natural phenomena.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

10 Reasons to Select a Steel Building

If you are looking for an inexpensive, stylish and durable building that is fast to build then you should go for Steel Building. There are many benefits of having offices, residential and other structures made from steel and some of them are listed below:

1. Stylish Modern Designs:

Steel buildings are no longer just boring blocks of metal. The new age metal buildings are made with modern and stylish designs and can have a look of any traditional exterior.

2. Environment Friendly:

It is an environment friendly and it is made from steel which can be recycled. It helps in conservation of energy and also reduces the demand of wood which causes deforestation.

3. Durable Structures:

One of the key benefits of steel building is that it is made of durable and prefabricated material. It need low maintenance and come with 40 years warranty.

4. Speedy Construction:

As these buildings are made according to the specifications given by the builders they come with prefabricated pieces ready to install. Kit to construct the building is delivered in just few weeks time. It is also very easy to put up the structure; anyone can do it by following the instructions from the manual and with little help from the crew.

5. Cost Savings:

Steel buildings allow cost cutting at every stage. First it saves on labor cost as the buildings are fast to construct. Once it is ready to use is helps to save on maintenance cost. The need of renovating the building is also eliminated so such expenses can also be avoided.

6. Better than Conventional Buildings:

It is better than other conventional buildings. Problems like pest infestation are not seen with metal buildings. They are better at resisting fire, damages caused by rains and other natural forces like hurricanes, tornados and earthquakes.

7. Long Life of the Buildings:

Steel buildings are made from inorganic material and can withstand harsh weather conditions. They are mildew and mold resistant and have longer life. It is also easy to make structural changes. Walls can be added or deleted without affecting the strength of the building.

8. Insurance Benefits:

Insurance premiums can be availed at discounted rates as steel is known for its sturdy and fire resistant qualities. Even the construction insurance is needed for a shorter time as metal buildings are constructed and put up faster than other buildings.

9. All Types of Buildings:

Steel buildings can be used to make all types of structures including social, commercial and residential buildings. Kit buildings are used to make schools, shops, business buildings, homes, industrial parks, and even churches.

10. Energy Efficient:

Energy efficiency is an inherent quality of a steel building. Metal roofing and siding reflect sunlight and heat; this keeps the interiors cooler so there is less need of using air conditioners. They keep the interior temperatures moderate during winters so use of heater is also reduced.

Steel buildings are beneficial to its users in more than one way and that is why they are becoming so popular in the cities.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Green Architects: Why You Need Them

Green architects are becoming increasingly common because more people want to do right by the government. Green buildings are popping up all over the world as people wish to use sustainable materials and re-appropriate materials. When you are looking to make your mark on the environment and be able to promote yourself as green, you need to find architects that know how to give you what you want.

First, it's important to know that there are essentially two types of green architects. The first is an architect that is going to build a home or building using sustainable and green materials. From the foundation to the roof, everything can be green. This will ensure you are environmentally friendly from start to finish. The other type of architect is one that will use adaptive reuse. This is where you choose a pre-existing building and use the entire structure for your new building. You can turn just about any building into what you want.

There are benefits to both types of green architects. You need to determine which one is going to be best for you. Do you want to build something from the ground up or do you already have your eye on a property that just doesn't meet your current needs? The latter can be more affordable because you don't have to build everything. It also eliminates the need to use a bulldozer on a perfectly good building. However, if you want to say you used sustainable and green materials in every part, you may need to start from the beginning.

Green architects are going to be able to guide you into the right decision based upon what you want to build, where you want to build and what your budget is. If you want to build on the waterfront and there are already pre-existing buildings and no empty lots, then it would be advantageous for you to consider adaptive reuse architecture. There's no need to bulldoze if you can use the building. If you feel the need to bulldoze, you're better off finding an empty lot to save money and help the environment.

When you work with green architects, you have to find out where their strengths lie. You don't want to use someone who specializes in adaptive reuse when you are building from the ground up if they aren't familiar with where to get all of the sustainable materials you want to use. Take your time and ask a lot of questions - including how much it will all cost.

The environment needs all the help it can get. While some companies are looking at solar panels and water conservation modules, you can choose to build your entire structure with the environment in mind. If you want to add solar panels and water conservation features in your building, then you can choose to do that as well. When you work with green architects, they will guide you through the entire process to help you make the most environmentally sound decisions every step of the way.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Acoustic Ceiling Panels: Improve the Privacy of Your Corporate Meetings

Business meetings include sharing of confidential information, which can damage the company's success if overheard. If you are planning to build your own commercial structure or improve your current one, soundproofing is an important factor to take in to account. Ensure with reliable panels that which is discussed during board meetings remains within the room. They provide highly effective solution to prevent reverberations.

Improve Privacy and Aesthetics

Acoustic ceiling panel systems are made of sound-absorbing material. This prevents reverberations; that is, sound waves bouncing off the ceiling. The feature makes your discussions inaudible to those outside. In addition, noises from streets or the workplace do not disturb your meeting. Acoustic insulation options are very popular in the business world.

Another added benefit of the ceiling panels is that they enhance the aesthetics of commercial interior spaces. They are suspended from the concrete ceiling and cover wires, fixtures, pipes, and construction blemishes above them, giving the room a clean finish. They are easy to maintain and clean, and can be painted to suit the interiors.

Overview of Acoustic Ceiling Panels

Sound waves are capable of being deflected, reflected, and absorbed. Acoustic ceiling treatment deals with these characteristics of sound. Panels systems utilise specialised materials to diminish or block excessive and unwanted sounds. There are different types of acoustic insulating materials; the most popular being viscoelastic polymers and porous foams. These materials are not hard and rigid like concrete, which augments reverberations. Instead, they tend to warp slightly when sound waves reach them. Moreover, small dents are created to improve their audio absorbing features. Unlike concrete, wood and other hard materials, soundproofing solutions are lithe.

Choose Quality Soundproofing System

When choosing sound insulation for your corporate boardroom, make sure to consider high quality. Your business meetings are top-secret affairs, which is why only the best panel systems should be integrated. There are countless suppliers of acoustic insulation, but not all guarantee 100% satisfaction. If your prime reason for sound panel installation is to maintain business secrecy, avoid cheaper alternatives of soundproofing. Buy acoustic solutions of a reputable brand, which also offers professional installation service of the system to help prevent information theft.

With high-tech sound insulating options available today, you can readily find the perfect choice for your corporate needs. Besides soundproofing, panel systems are also known to provide thermal insulation, which cuts down on the utility bills. There are many benefits to soundproofing your office, making it worth the investment.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Precast Concrete Retaining Walls

Precast retaining walls are now widely used across a variety of industries, most notably construction and agriculture. Ease of construction and durability are the products two main benefits.

Precast concrete products in general have some obvious benefits over pouring concrete on site. The ability to make something in a factory controlled environment makes it so much easier to produce a good quality product with the right type of finish. This means products can then be delivered to site and installed with minimal hassle.

Concrete retaining walls are used across a variety of areas, one of the most common uses is creating storage bays for aggregates and similar products. Once a flat base has been created, the product can then be installed in a number of ways. The type of product used will depend on what needs to be achieved, the standard product tends to be an L shaped retaining wall unit. This is more often than not bolted down to a concrete slab. The slab itself needs to be approximately 200mm thick or more. The units are then put into place, and then a drill is used to drill out the fixing points. Once this is complete, the holes need to be blown out, and then resin is placed in, and threaded bolts are placed into the resin and then it is all left to go off. The final stage is then tightening the nuts onto the threaded bars.

One potential issue which can arise from this method of installation is that the foot of the units is a potential hazard to machinery or diggers. It also means that the fixing points are left exposed to potentially corrosive materials. If either of these things is an issue, then the other method of installation is to cast in the retaining walls units into the floor slab. This means the units will be tied into the floor slab, and avoid the problems discussed earlier.

The nature of precast concrete means that the units should last for a long time, depending on how careful people are when using them. Obviously diggers can make a large dent in concrete if people are not careful! Barring heavy handed machine drivers, the units will last a very long time.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Cooling Towers: The Perfect Atmosphere for Failure

Cooling towers - the name itself gives the air of the opposition to fire. Their existence is for the soul purpose of removing heat. However, cooling towers contain very real fire hazards: Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) fill; Fiberglass Reinforced Plastic (FRP) walls (FRP is often mistaken as an acronym for fire resistant plastic), fan stacks, fan decks, fan blades, louvers, partitions, and catch basins; Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS) and Polypropylene nozzles; and wood. Cooling towers are susceptible to fire when they are online or off. When a cooling tower is online, there are several dry areas within the building with fire hazards available to fuel a blaze. When cooling towers are offline, they are at greater risk for fire with a larger volume of dry space to invade. Don't wait until a fire erupts in a cooling tower to find out the fire sprinkler pipes have failed.

Causes: Cooling Tower Pipe Deterioration

Pipe corrosion and scale formation are part of the lifecycle of pipes within a cooling tower. The humid living conditions of these pipes are the perfect catalyst for the deterioration of fire protection pipes. In fact, without pipe and general metal component up-keep, it is estimated that a cooling tower will need to be completely torn down and rebuilt approximately every twenty years. There are three main triggers of pipe break-down in a cooling tower.

1. Contaminated Water
Many cooling towers are open and exposed to the outside environment. Air pollution particulates and dissolved gases contaminate the water. When evaporation occurs, the pure vapor water enters the atmosphere, while the contaminated water remains in the cooling tower in a concentrated state. This accelerates the corrosion process.

The corrosion process is dictated by the velocity of the water. High velocity water increases the volume of corrosion by transporting oxygen and particulates to the metal pipes at a quick rate, providing the opportunity to contaminate a larger volume of piping. When the water velocity is low, it localizes the particulate distribution, causing greater damage to a smaller area. The deteriorating matter is sitting in one spot, giving it the opportunity to eat away at the pipe in a concentrated manner.

Contaminated water affects the pH balance of the water, providing new opportunities for deterioration and corrosion.

2. pH Balance
Water in cooling towers comes from a variety of sources, and the source will dictate the pH balance of the water. The damage caused by particulates becomes exasperated when the water loses its pH balance and becomes either too acidic or too alkaline. The imbalance of pH can cause either scale formation or corrosion, depending on the number it reaches on the pH scale.

Water that is a pH balance of six or lower is acidic and increases corrosion. Acidic water mixed with oxygen and contaminates like chloride or sulfate will cause corrosion. Corrosion is the deterioration of metal through chemical or electrochemical reaction with its environment.

Water that has a pH balance of 8 or higher is too alkaline, causing scales to form. Alkaline water has high concentrations of calcium and/or magnesium. The calcium or magnesium carbonate becomes deposited on pipes, creating scales. When scales build up, it can trap oxygen, causing corrosion. Without annual inspection, testing, and maintenance, a facility would not learn of the pipe deterioration until a fire event happens, leaving the facility without water supply for their fire protection sprinklers.

Scale buildup may cause microbial growth between the scales and pipes. This can cause pipe corrosion called microbial induced corrosion (MIC) in addition to the already present scale problem.

There are three different types of attacks on the metal:

• General Attack: Corrosion is evenly distributed over the metal surface.
• Pitting Attack: Small areas of the metal are corroded, like in the case of MIC.
• Galvanic Attack: Corrosion when two different metals are in contact.

3. Warm Environment
The warm environment is the perfect atmosphere for microbes to thrive. The microbial growth causes differential aeration. Differential aeration, also known as oxygen concentration cells, occurs when oxygen is trapped between scaling and the metal pipe. This entrapment will not allow the oxygen to diffuse naturally and uniformly. Without the ability to diffuse evenly, oxygen develops into a concentration of cells, causing the cell concentration to eat away at the pipe where it is trapped. Every 25-30 degree increase in temperature doubles the corrosion rate.

The contaminated water, pH balance, and warm atmosphere all act in combination to corrode or scale fire protection pipes.

Ensuring Safety in the Event of a Fire

Because of the nature of a cooling tower, it is difficult to find a convenient time to take it offline for inspection, testing, or maintenance. However, annual inspections could lead to a longer lifespan for cooling tower fire protection. The environment of a cooling tower is the ideal formula for pipe decay. It cannot be stopped, but it can be delayed.

To delay pipe decay, annual inspection and testing needs to be completed by a qualified fire protection solution provider. If corrosion or scale build up is found early, it could be rectified when it is only a small problem and delay the need for a completely new system. If corrosion or scale formation is found and maintenance is needed, the piping system can be replaced with stainless steel, which decays at a much slower rate than standard steel.

Do not delay in replacing a fire protection system when it has corroded beyond the point of repair. Cooling Tower fire protection systems, in general, need to be replaced every 7-10 years due to corrosion. Without annual inspection, the only way for a facility to learn that the fire protection pipe system is corroded or has significant scale formation is if there is a fire and the fire protection solution fails.

When a fire protection sprinkler system replacement is needed, choose a fire protection solution provider that can meet the accelerated timeline that cooling towers require. Many aspects of the installation can be done beforehand or offsite to minimize the outage: design, survey, material drop off, safety training, and custom pipe fabrication. For more information on cooling tower hazards, FM Global has compiled an in-depth data sheet available here or click here for FEMA's cooling tower fire hazard training.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

How to Locate the Best Steel Sheet Suppliers for Any Project

If you are in the construction business, you have to make certain that you get only the best quality materials if you want to avoid any accidents or structural failures. One of these materials is steel sheet and to find the best suppliers, you have to bear in mind a few things.

Factors to Consider When Selecting the Right Supplier

Before choosing a steel sheet supplier from your list of candidates, you need to consider two main factors: the quality of the products they are offering and the reputation of the company in terms of customer service. There are many companies these days but only a few can deliver both high quality items and high quality service. In terms of reputation, you can check numerous references such as reviews from the company's previous and existing clients. Of course positive reviews are a sign that the company can be trusted to offer top-of-the-line customer service and the best quality products. When you say, "best quality products," this means that the company has excellent plant management as well as top quality assurance. Steel sheets that have passed quality tests and third-party inspections are the best option if you are looking for this particular material for your project.

More Factors to Consider

The other factors you need to consider are the size, thickness, finish and other features. Every project is unique therefore each project requires specific materials. If you find the right supplier or manufacturer, you can have your steel sheets customised according to your needs. With customised materials, you will be able to do the project with no hassles and it is very likely to be finished on time.

Moreover, your budget is a factor to be considered as well because you do not want to embark on a project that will over-exceed the budget that you allotted for it. That is why it is best to check on the prices of several suppliers and see which one offers the best quality materials at reasonable rates. You may get in contact with a supplier that offers wholesale prices to those who require a large quantity of steel sheet so you can enjoy discounts and other benefits.


Embarking on a certain project requires that you are well-prepared so planning is very important. Your planning should include finding the best suppliers for your materials because your project will be a success only if you have proper planning and if you make the right decisions.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Carbon Mild Steel Sheet Information

Carbon steel is unique in terms of qualities making it a sought-after material in different home or business construction projects. If carbon is the main alloying constituent, then it is called carbon steel. However, not all carbon steel products contain the same amount of carbon so there are different types based on the product's carbon content. They are as follows:

• Mild Steel - This carbon steel product, like mild steel sheet, contains about 0.16% to 0.29% carbon. Mild steel is relatively cheap compared to other steel variants and can be used for many different applications. This material is commonly used for construction purposes which require large amounts of steel.

• Medium Steel - This product is strong and has good resistance to wear and tear. Medium steel is commonly used for large metal structures as well as automotive components.

• High Steel - As the name implies, this type has high carbon content and is mainly used for the manufacture of high-strength springs, wires, and others.

• Ultra-high Steel - This type is used for manufacturing hard products like masonry materials and cutting tools (i.e. knives, axles) and for non-industrial purposes because of its high-level of hardness and strength.

Mild Steel Sheets for Welding

As mentioned earlier, a mild steel sheet is one that has a low content of carbon in it and this type is a favourite in construction and also in industrial and commercial fabrication. It is used in about 85% of welding. Aside from the sheets, wire and mild steel pipes are also used for welding. This type of steel is welded by using resistance welding or by using gas. The great thing about this material is that it can be bent, moved, twisted or worked into different shapes as it is welded.

It is used in various types of welding such as:

• Flux-covered arc welding - This type of welding is preferred by many when it comes to welding done in outdoor environment and makes use of a flux-covered wire.

• Gas-metal arc welding - This type of welding makes use of solid electrode wire that is made of mild steel that is in copper colour for rust prevention.

• MIG welding - This type of welding is one of the easiest and is ideal for welding in an indoor environment.