Topping off the country's largest distribution centre through suspended manufacturing innovation - Cladding and Roofing NZ
Topping off the country's largest distribution centre through suspended manufacturing innovation

Topping off the country's largest distribution centre through suspended manufacturing innovation

Roll to Roof—the future of large-scale industrial roof installations.

Words by Justin Foote

Pioneering Kiwis were renowned for their ability to seize on a problem and to conceive of a solution, oftentimes by employing some ‘out of the box’ thinking. There’s even a name for it: Number 8 wire mentality—and it is still alive and well today.

“We—Dimond Roofing and roofing contractors, Kiwi Roofing—realised from the outset that this project was going to throw up some interesting challenges,” says Jason Whiteman, Dimond Roofing Auckland Sales Representative.

The project in question is the new 75,000m2 Foodstuffs distribution centre—with its 77,500m2 roof—located at Auckland Airport’s The Landing Business Park.

As Jason outlines: “A roof of this size has costly logistical and safety challenges with large mobile cranes and coordination between roofing and other trades on site. Early discussions on the construction programme between ourselves, Kiwi Roofing and the main contractors identified site constraints with the footprint of the rollforming machine, the logistics of transporting the long roof sheets around the site and the access and size of cranes needed to lift sheets onto the roof, meaning another approach was needed.”

That’s when the concept of ‘Roll to Roof’ was offered as a solution to this project’s logistical and safety issues, says Managing Director of Kiwi Roofing, Paul Connell.

“After a fair amount of to-ing and fro-ing we came up with the concept of suspending the rollforming machine at roof level and, following discussions with Auckland Cranes as to whether this could be done—and with Dimond that it was possible to do—we had several design meetings culminating in a lifting platform to accommodate both the rollforming machine and the de-coiler.”

Roll to Roof: a containerised solution

A new addition to Dimond’s existing mobile rollforming capability, the Roll to Roof service sees the mobile equipment craned to the building’s roof level to rollform directly to the building. This has multiple advantages, including removing the requirement for onsite material storage and reducing the site space required for processing, says Jason.

“The Roll to Roof system streamlines the two-step process of rolling and shaping the steel roofing at ground level and craning it into place, into one continuous process that is completed on the roof.

“Two containers are used; a smaller one to hold the de-coiler and a larger one to hold the rollforming machine. These containers are craned into place and are secured to anchor points during operation, with the containers being movable to different sections of the roof. The containers are also brought back to ground level for a coil change.

“Although roll to roof systems are widely used throughout Europe and Australia, this was the first time we had employed the system here and it is, as far as I know, the first time a system like this has ever been used in New Zealand.

“I had thought that the first time we used it it would have been on a much smaller building but both the scale of this roof and the desire from ourselves and Kiwi Roofing to try something innovative made the project a perfect pilot for the system.”

Meeting the challenges head on

With a total area to cover equivalent to around nine rugby fields and the rollforming machine producing sheets ranging in length from 25m to 75m, the health and safety of everyone involved was paramount to the process and ultimately the success of the project.

Paul says a lot of effort went in prior to the start of the project to ensure Health and Safety protocols associated with the traditional mobile rollforming process were adjusted to meet the unusual requirements—this included the Health and Safety induction process and the focuses of daily toolbox meetings, crane exclusion zones, PPE requirements and wind controls.

“Even with the roll to roof solution, when the wind is blowing it’s not safe to be working with sheets of steel up to 16 metres in the air. Similarly, because we could only roll form from one side of the site, getting the longest sheets up and over the ridge and down the other side safely—on a building that was over 200m wide—was equally challenging.

“Handling a 75m sheet safely requires a lot of physical labour, which meant there were a lot of men and women on the roof who had no previous experience working at height. Mitigating any risks these individuals could potentially be exposed to was of primary concern to everyone involved. We even went as far as having the egress from the scissor platform modified so they could walk from the scissor platform onto the roof.”

Achieving New Zealand’s largest industrial roof

“When the start day arrived an exclusion zone almost the size of an Olympic swimming pool was set up around the lift area involving two cranes and all the associated equipment required plus all the coils. There was intense scrutiny on the operation and most key stakeholders had H&S representatives on site to observe,” says Jason.

“The first run went off without any issues and after the coil exchange was completed it was obvious all the planning and collaboration had been a success.”

Working at height in exposed conditions also throws up a number of exigencies that needed to be accounted for and which required several modifications to be made to the rollforming system including the adaptation of the de-coiler to accept larger coils—6-tonne instead of the usual 4-tonne.

“The larger coils meant a reduction in the total number of coil change outs of around 30 per cent. Coupled with the change-out process becoming more expedient as the job progressed, meant our guys completed the job much sooner than usual, cutting down the total amount of time needing to be spent at height.”

Roll to Roof: the proof is in the pudding

“Perhaps the biggest benefit to the client was in cost savings—including reducing the need for the usual amount of on-ground support staff and the amount of roof-level labour normally needed with a traditional mobile model. Similarly, by rolling directly to the roof, significant time benefits were achieved, with work being completed within eight months rather than the 10 months a more traditional system would have taken,” says Paul.

In all, the team of 14 workers installed a staggering 108km (more than 1300 sheets) of Dimondek 630 concealed clip profile roofing, creating, in the process, the largest commercial roof in New Zealand.

That’s not where the innovation ends, either. The roof will become home to the country’s largest solar panel farm when it’s installed later this year.

Learn more about the Roll to Roof system and its suitability for your next commercial project.

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