Warehouse, manufacturing facilities go high-tech: Electrical and power

Warehouse, manufacturing and logistics buildings are more than simple boxy structures used to make products and store them before they move onto their next destination. Electrical, power and lighting systems add another layer of complexity

By Consulting-Specifying Engineer May 26, 2020


Leonard Belliveau Jr., PE, SET, vice president, strategic accounts, Jensen Hughes, Framingham, Mass.: Belliveau has more than 22 years of experience managing fire protection engineering design and code consulting on government and commercial projects. Clients include a large shipping company, U.S. Department of Transportation and Leidos Corp.

Jason R. Gerke, PE, CxA, LEED AP BD+C, practice area leader – Mechanical/Plumbing | Principal, GRAEF, Milwaukee.: As a practice area leader, Gerke has worked on a broad range of projects, including convention centers, schools, airports and others. He has more than 12 years of mechanical design, commissioning and project management experience.

George D. Halkias, AIA, LEED AP, NCARB, senior principal, Stantec, Pittsburgh: Serving as senior principal, Halkias brings more than 20 years of experience — as well as knowledge on a wide range of project types — to the company. He has designed, consulted on or managed more than 2 million square feet of U.S. Green Building Council LEED certified buildings.

Josh Meinig, PE, senior mechanical engineer, CDM Smith, Maitland, Fla.: Meinig is the lead mechanical engineer in the southeast region at CDM Smith. He has more than 14 years of experience in mechanical design and construction services for environmental, industrial, military and commercial facilities.

Doug Sandridge, PE, principal, RTM Engineering Consultants, Wheat Ridge, Colo.: Sandridge, principal, comes to RTM from Concord West, an engineering firm specializing in design, construction and management services that the firm acquired in June. His portfolio includes a number of liquor distilleries and international projects.

CSE: Are there any issues unique to designing electrical/power systems for these types of facilities? Please describe, particularly for large-scale manufacturing plants.

Sandridge: Large facilities will require the installed electrical systems to be compliant with OSHA arc flash requirement. Not only can we provide arc flash studies, which are required at least every five years, but also the OHSA compliance training required for the facility engineering and maintenance staff. For advanced manufacturing facilities, electrical systems have to installed with conductivity breaks, for security requirements.

CSE: What types of unusual standby, emergency or backup power systems have you specified for warehouse, manufacturing and logistics facilities?

Gerke: A recently completed design included a roof mounted solar photovoltaic system rated at 1 megawatt and a large containerized battery storage installation. The project was very interesting in that the owner initially considered a standard generator solution, however during the design data collection phase it was uncovered that the machine tools required a bumpless transfer from normal to backup power. These machine tools create parts that are in some cases hundreds of thousands of dollars and days to create, so the loss of a few parts in a single power outage would pay the premium for the battery system over the generator solution. The battery solution allowed the machine tools to “spin down” and stop safely while preserving the work. The budget for the battery system was approximately double a standard generator installation cost but required for the process equipment.

CSE: What are some key differences in electrical, lighting and power systems you might incorporate in this kind of facility, compared to other projects?

Sandridge: In operation centers, lighting studies are conducted to develop ideal lighting levels to prevent screen glare and give workers optimal lighting for a comfortable working environment.