Ask an Engineering Expert: What trends do you see today in the design of industrial, manufacturing, and warehouse facilities?
Industrial projects – which can include anything from warehouses and distribution centers, to printing plants and manufacturing facilities – can have complex MEP/FP engineering needs. They aren’t just big storage facilities; they often house advanced equipment and technology, and need to be designed for optimum productivity and safety.
As engineering consultants, we approach each industrial project with the goal of preventing production delays or errors that could have costly or dangerous results. We stay updated on the latest industry trends and changes so we can provide the most efficient, reliable, and secure solutions for our clients.
When our team designs industrial, manufacturing, or warehouse facilities, one trend we’ve noticed is that we’re usually more actively involved in the construction phase of the project than we are for other buildings.
The MEP engineer must be diligent about tracking the current industrial systems and equipment information throughout the project. These details are often not ready when we begin designing, and they can go through multiple changes and revisions, all the way through the last day of construction. The engineer also needs to coordinate with non-traditional trades, such as specialized equipment manufacturers, system vendors, or refrigeration or waste-handling system companies.
On a recent industrial project in the Chicago area, RTM worked with a client to convert a 113,000-square-foot warehouse into a commercial kitchen, catering, and food storage facility. The space needed to accommodate both food preparation and cooking areas, so we designed special mechanical systems to handle intense exhaust, make-up air, and grease collection. The client also had specific requirements, due to religious reasons, for handling and storing food. RTM designed two separate, identical food process lines for food preparation and cooking.
When designing industrial facilities, the engineering team may need to address two factors: humidity control and space pressure control. It’s often necessary to combine traditional HVAC and refrigeration equipment, as well as establish redundancy and backup power, in order to meet the facility’s needs. Throughout the food processing facility project, our MEP team worked closely with the refrigeration and control engineers to make sure the industrial freezers and coolers were properly installed and met safety standards.