Waterways are among the safest, most cost-effective and greenest ways to transport goods. Many items, including bulk material, break bulk items that are loaded individually, and containerized shipments, are shipped either overseas or via inland waterways. Typically, at some point the goods are moved to a truck or rail car for further shipment and logistics. But no matter where they come from or where they are going, most goods spend some time stored at a port, terminal or harbor.
Advantages of Fabric Port Buildings
While there are many reasons to choose fabric structures for port buildings, three stand out above the rest:
- Corrosion resistance
No matter how humid the air at port, the fabric cover will never rust. Fabric membranes resist corrosion caused by moisture, salty sea air or even stored corrosives such as fertilizer and road salt.
All types of metal are vulnerable to corrosion. Rust may start slowly, with a few small leaks around fasteners. But as any warehouse operator knows, a few small leaks can cause big damage to stored goods. If left unchecked, the rust will eventually damage the entire steel building. There is no way to stop rust once it starts - the entire building will eventually need replacement.
In contrast, structural fabric is naturally impervious to corrosion.
Attaching a fabric liner to the inside of the building frame further increases the structure’s lifespan. While the outer cladding protects the building from corrosion caused by rain and humidity, the inner liner protects the frame from corrosives that may be inside the building. The frame is completely sealed, separated from even fine dust particles, and protected from rust.
All fabric buildings are customized to meet the demands of the customer or port authority. Many customers choose a Legacy building because of the wide clear spans that allow more material to be stored without a larger footprint.
But size is more than length and width. Each building also includes a custom eave strut, straight sidewalls and the ability to add industrial doors. This simplifies transloading and transshipment by allowing trucks and heavy equipment to easily pass in and out of the building. Multiple entry points allow dockside cranes and derricks to load and reclaim materials straight to waiting trucks. Industrial doors and conveyor penetrations further simplify transshipment operations.
While steel buildings incur higher maintenance costs due to inevitable corrosion, wooden buildings tend to be more expensive initially. The large timbers necessary for freespan buildings are rare and expensive. And in the damp marine environment, wood is susceptible to rotting and pests.
The longer lifespan of fabric structures is one cost-saving aspect. The naturally well-lit interior is another. Over time, the energy spent lighting a terminal on a sunny day adds up – to money that could be better spent improving other aspects of logistics.
Overall, fabric structures will improve efficiency of port operations. And when you’re an integral link in the supply chain, there’s no time to waste on small, corroded and expensive structures.