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AL Railcar Plant Takes National Honor

Thursday, October 20, 2011

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National Alabama Corp.’s railcar manufacturing facility in Cherokee, AL, has taken national honors in the 2011 Innovative Design in Engineering and Architecture with Structural Steel awards program (IDEAS2).

The annual IDEAS2 awards, presented by the American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC), recognize outstanding achievement in engineering and architecture on structural steel projects. The 14 winners of 2011 were chosen from nearly 100 submissions.

 NAC railcar manufacturing facility, Cherokee, AL

 Photos: Justin Maconochie

The facility can produce up to 12,000 cars—each nearly 90 feet long, 20 feet high and 70,000 pounds—annually.

NAC’s facility was a National Award winner in the category of projects greater than $75 million, making it one of only eight projects nationwide to receive the honor. The award was presented Wednesday (Oct. 19) during a ceremony at the facility.

The project team members include owner NAC; architect and structural engineer Albert Kahn Associates Inc., Detroit; steel detailer McGill Engineering Inc., Tampa, FL; steel fabricator Cives Steel Co., Roswell, GA.; steel erector Midwest Steel Inc., Detroit; general contractor Yates-Walbridge Joint Venture, Philadelphia, MS, and Detroit, respectively; and joint manufacturer Quincy Joist Co., Quincy, FL.

4 Operations, 1 Facility

Completed in 2009, NAC’s 2.1 million-square-foot facility houses fabrication, construction, finishing and administration operations under one roof. The $300 million facility can produce up to 12,000 cars—each nearly 90 feet long, 20 feet high and 70,000 pounds—annually.

Located on 635 acres in Barton Riverfront Industrial Park, the facility’s orientation followed the existing topography, which minimized site grading, allowing natural areas to remain untouched.

NAC facility floor plan

NAC’s railcar manufacturing facility, ¾ mile long, was a National Award winner in the category of projects greater than $75 million.

The facility accesses the Norfolk-Southern rail line along its southern boundary, and a 500-car capacity storage yard was built east of the manufacturing facility. Steel rail sidings connect to the existing rail line to facilitate delivery of completed railcars.

By the Numbers

The project included:

• More than 22,600 tons of structural steel erected in four months;

• A superstructure of 27,000 pieces of steel; 200,000 bolts; three miles of handrail; and more than five miles of crane runways;

• More than 50,000 detailing hours and 305,000 fabrication hours;

• Four erection crews with four crawler cranes working concurrently to keep pace with the arrival of 100 truckloads of steel per week; and

• Installation of an average 1,600 pieces of steel per week.

Because the fabrication and construction of railcars makes extensive use of cranes for material handling, the plant’s construction area incorporates jib cranes, semi-gantry, gantry cranes, and top-running bridge cranes, all of which are integrated into the building.

Typical bay size parallel to the process flow was set at 30 feet to optimize crane runway support framing. Bay sizes perpendicular to the process flow ranged from 93 to 120 feet.

‘Close Attention to Detail’

Competition judge Robert Theel, AIA, called the result “an expansive facility that pays close attention to detail.”

“Aesthetically, the building embodies stylistic elements from the golden age of American industrial design, the strong linear character associated with railway functions, and the NAC brand image,” AISC said in a release.

“The facility incorporates broad expanses of glass curtain wall and roof monitors that permeate the manufacturing spaces with daylight and natural ventilation. The exit for finished railcars has a transparency and light quality rarely seen in conventional industrial facilities.”

 NAC manufacturing facility
More than 22,600 tons of structural steel were erected in four months.

Other environmental features include the harvesting of rain water from more than 37 acres of roof and hard surface areas and diverting it to a two-acre irrigation pond.

The facility is expected to achieve LEED Silver certification. If so, it may become the largest industrial project to achieve this distinction in the new construction category, according to AISC.

   

Tagged categories: American Institute of Steel Construction; Awards and honors; Design; Railcars; Steel; Structural steel

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