Steel facility raises fire standards

Construction of Corus’s new warehouse in Jebel Ali Free Zone (JAFZ) is unlikely to attract much attention, whereas what will come out of the facility when it is up and running later this year will turn more than a few heads.

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By  Zoe Naylor Published  July 9, 2006

|~|update2.jpg|~|Fletcher says the facility will produce around 5,000 tonnes per year.|~|Construction of Corus’s new warehouse in Jebel Ali Free Zone (JAFZ) is unlikely to attract much attention, whereas what will come out of the facility when it is up and running later this year will turn more than a few heads. The UK-owned steel distributor believes that the demand for steel-structured high-rise buildings in the region is likely to increase and is therefore investing in a new facility capable of manufacturing composite steel decking. What sets this facility apart from its local competitors is that it will produce the first fire-rated composite decking in the Middle East — which up until now has had to be imported. “This is the first time this product has been manufactured in the region,” says Haydar Ibrahim, general manager (business development), Corus Middle East. “Previously, people used locally-manufactured corrugated metal for flooring. But Corus is the first company to bring the technology and manufacturing into the Middle East.” According to Ibrahim, the investment that Corus has made in terms of its technical presence in the region echoes what the company is seeing as far as development is concerned. He says: “The local market for steel buildings stands very low at the moment in comparison to concrete buildings — I’d say less than 1%. “But we see the market here evolving into high-rise and speed construction. There is also a lot of confined construction zones i.e. buildings are being built in relatively small plots, and are very slender because they’re going to be very tall. “The buildings are also very narrow in the basement, which means the amount of space for the foundations is not always enough to go up in concrete structures, whereas steel is usually lighter than concrete.” One recent project in Dubai to have bucked the trend for concrete structures is the Rose Rotana Tower. This 333m steel-decked building achieved record three-day floor cycles never before seen in Dubai, and when completed at the end of this year will become the highest operating hotel in the world. Another mega project (still in the design stage) that could also be built in steel is the Princess Tower, which is likely to stand around 420m-high in Dubai Marina. This project is a typical example of what Ibrahim sees as a move towards steel structures. “We do see the prestigious projects going in the direction of steel,” he says. “As buildings here get taller and taller, there will be a requirement for more steel in construction.” But it is not only this potential demand for steel buildings that Corus is looking to satisfy — its new factory in JAFZ will also produce the region’s first fire-rated composite decking, which can ultimately help to economise a project’s construction. Composite here refers to two materials working together homogeneously, in the same way that reinforced concrete, for example, is a composite product made up of a concrete column or beam with rebar in the middle. “A composite deck is exactly the same thing,” says Ibrahim. “It’s a homogeneous product that consists of two materials: concrete material on top of the steel deck, with the steel acting as a reinforcement to the concrete on the deck itself. “When you talk to the big name engineers here they often cite obstacles such as the fact that proper materials are not available for the structure and have to be imported. “By manufacturing these products in the Middle East it is giving the construction professionals here a product to specify with confidence,” he adds. Corus will produce two metal decking profiles in its new factory, CF46 and CF80, both of which are certified by the UK’s Steel Construction Institute (SCI) for composite action and fire resistance. CF80 is a relatively new profile developed in the UK by Corus with a long span and up to four hours’ fire rating. “It’s very much targeted towards projects with long spans where you want to economise with the use of hot rolled steel work by reducing the amount of beams, so you make the deck and the concrete above it deeper,” explains Ibrahim. Corus will be supplying CF80, with a 4.5m-span between beams, on Index Tower in Dubai, which Ibrahim believes will be the longest span ever built with composite metal decking. CF46 is again a composite metal decking but is older, having been used for around 25 years. It has a shallower profile, and with a normal weight of concrete will give around 2.85m double span and two hours’ fire rating. “The CF46 can still give much further spans than whatever is available locally. It’s not a question of length, since production lengths can be varied in terms of metres — it is the span between the beams that is the critical factor.” There are numerous advantages of using these certified products. Ibrahim explains: “It means you can economise on the construction — if you use a locally roll formed non-certified product, the specifying engineer will have a limitation in confidence. “This means they have to overcompensate, which becomes expensive, and then you’re back into the scenario where steel is more expensive than concrete. “We looked at the market and none of what is available is certified. But with the airport developments (which are generally steel construction), shopping malls (which also use a lot of steel), and the high-rise that we’re already seeing here — we thought there was room in the market.” Construction of Corus’s new factory began in January this year and the facility is due to begin production of the CF46 and CF80 profiles in August. The 3000m2 warehouse itself measures 36m by 80m with a height of 8m. The main contractor is Sands Contracting, Corus is the project manager and Space Electro Mechanical is doing the MEP work. Around 120 tonnes of Zamil steel from Saudi Arabia is being used to construct the pre-engineered building. According to Bob Fletcher, GM (commercial), Corus Middle East, health and safety plays a key role when it comes to the construction of the building. “The selection of Zamil and Sands was based on the health and safety of these two organisations,” he says. “One of the main health and safety challenges on the project is policing it. We have some of the best health and safety policies in the world and qualified personnel on site who are au fait with all the rules and regulations — but getting them to implement it 100% of the time can be difficult. “The only way you can police it is by being there all of the time, and that’s what we do.” A critical part of the project in terms of health and safety was the installation of two 12-tonne capacity gantry cranes in the warehouse.||**|||~||~||~|The cranes will be used for unloading steel coils that are delivered to the warehouse on lorries. After offloading the coils, the steel will go through the machines and the cranes will then be used to lift the finished product back onto the trucks ready for delivery. Manufactured in Scotland by PCT, the two Matteson King cranes were installed mid-June. At that point the warehouse structure itself was finished, which meant Sands Contracting had to remove some of the purlins to enable the 18m-span cranes to be lifted into position. A key consideration here was to ensure that the warehouse remained structurally sound. “It took two hours to install the cranes,” explains Lubna Karim, contracts manager, Corus Middle East. “We removed the necessary purlins half an hour before the arrival of the cranes and immediately after the cranes were installed using a 120-tonne mobile crane we replaced the purlins as a top safety precaution. “The entire installation process, including the welding and the returning of the purlins, was all finished in three hours.” The actual machinery that will produce the steel decking is being commissioned in the Far East. It is currently being dismantled and shipped, and is due to arrive on site on 19 July. In terms of production capacity, Fletcher says the facility will probably use around 5,000 tonnes of coils per year. “The project that we’ve just secured for the Index Tower in Dubai’s Financial Centre is to provide 70,000m2 of the CF80 profile. We’re due to start production here in August and should start supplying to the Index Tower by October.” Despite the well-documented increase in steel prices, Corus is sufficiently confident to invest in a facility that will bring the benefits of its fire-rated composite decking to the region. In a market where height, cost and speed of construction are the main watchwords, any products that satisfy all three criteria are likely to face an eager audience. And by carrying an SCI stamp of approval for composite action and fire resistance, the decking produced in Corus’ new facility could well steel the show. ||**|||~||~||~|Corus warehouse - Site team Main contractor - Sands Contracting Project manager - Corus MEP contractor - Space Electro Mechanical||**||

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