Super-sized collaboration brings the best out of 3750 tonnes of steel

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In terms of tonnage, Lion Nathan’s iconic new $250 million manufacturing and warehousing facility in Auckland might not be the biggest steel job ever, but it certainly comes close, with 2500 tonnes of structural steel and approximately 1250 tonnes of steel in 16km of driven pile.

The sheer scale of the project is more easily seen by comparing it with a modern high-rise. The 20-storey Deloitte Centre in Queen Street, Auckland, is 34,000 sq m including the basement.

Project Century covers 60,000 sq m, and incorporates seven buildings, the largest being the warehouse and packaging hall (at more than 45,000 sq m) and the smallest being the brew house (at around 900 sq m).

Scale aside, the really huge story behind what made the construction of the new brewery a world-class success is the extraordinary collaboration that took place.
As Mike Sullivan of D&H Steel Construction points out: “It doesn’t matter how well we perform in the factory, ultimately you are measured by what happens on site and how you work as a team.

The interaction between Mainzeal, Beca and D&H showed how working together early in the design phase allows smart problem solving, and creates considerable savings in time and costs.”

The project benefited not just from state-of-the-art technology, but a commitment to making the most of everyone’s specific expertise from the earliest stages,” Mr Sullivan says.
Mike Turner of Mainzeal agreed. “I was impressed with the structural steel trade. What was achieved by the ‘solutions-based attitude’ we all shared is one of the many success stories of the project.”

Project Century, as the project was known to all stakeholders, had to be the ultimate in collaboration for many reasons.
The imperative was to ensure it was sustainable from economic, social and environmental perspectives. With construction under way before design could be completed, the early focused teamwork allowed for creative solutions, quality management and greatly reduced wastage — increasing the effective and economic use of steel.

High-level collaboration was needed for solving complex and intricate tasks on the one hand, and at the other end of the scale the sheer size of the trusses.
Perhaps the most notable collaboration was the design and methodology input by D&H Steel Construction, Beca and Mainzeal into the 150m-long multi-span steel trusses in the warehouse — a process managed by Mainzeal.

The trusses were assembled on the ground and erected in three parts, two or three bays at a time. This required careful design of the splices, the lifting points and the exact placement of the four cranes. The steel frame consisted of 33 trusses spanning 150m, with two massive spine trusses running the length of the building.
The truss connections were designed and fabricated in a way that would accommodate the temporary deflections expected during the erection phase.

The stunning glass entrance facade is another impressive collaboration. D&H was engaged by Glass Metro Tech to design and build the steel structure to support the inclined glazed cylinder.

“The accuracy required was to the millimetre, and when you see the size and complexity of the glass structure you can appreciate why this tolerance had to be applied,” Mr Sullivan says.
Also of note is the Tank Farm structure with no vertical columns. To erect this required some very innovative solutions.
Structural steel played a significant part in this project along with precast and insitu concrete to form the structure. Steel was used primarily because the long spanning trusses could be erected faster than any other product.

Also, as Mr Turner points out, “steel has the ability to transfer loads over a great distance — for example massive trusses supported by just two columns”.
From a site point of view, steel is very convenient. Fabrication and painting is done off site, with only the erection process required.

Objectives and deadlines have been well met. The first test beer was produced in the new brewery plant on 15 September, with intentions to start producing and packaging product for retail sale early this year.

The project certainly passes the taste test and the ingenuity test brilliantly! Not only did the team develop a deep respect for each other’s expertise, but the whole industry can now celebrate what New Zealand specialists in this field can achieve.
Worth raising a glass or two over! Cheers!

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