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Steel creates icons

The logistics park is said to offer unrivalled connectivity.

Located adjacent to Manchester Airport, one of the North West’s most strategically-located logistics parks is expanding with two new steel-framed distribution centres.

Icon Manchester Airport
Main client: Icon Industrial
Architect: Webb Gray
Main contractor: Winvic Construction
Structural engineer: Complete Design Partnership
Steelwork contractor: Caunton Engineering
Steel tonnage: 1,000t
Icon Industrial – a joint venture between Stoford Developments and TPG Real Estate – is continuing the expansion of its Manchester Airport logistics park.

Two new BREEAM ‘Very Good’ rated distribution warehouses, known as units three and four, are set to complete later this year, both of which are steel-framed units offering ample column-free floor space and integral offices.

Commenting on the scheme, Dan Gallagher, Joint Managing Director of Stoford Developments says: “Icon Manchester Airport is a hugely successful scheme that continues to stimulate the Greater Manchester economy through the flexibility the site offers to its tenants.

“The scheme has understandably attracted significant demand from businesses keen to locate here, given the strong list of existing occupiers and the site’s unrivalled airport connectivity.”

Icon Manchester Airport is a 45-acre build-to-suit logistics park located next to the World Freight Terminal.

The site is said to offer excellent road, air and rail connections, with immediate access to junction 6 of the M56 motorway and Greater Manchester, as well as benefiting from the £290M A6 Manchester Airport Relief Road that links the A6 and M56.

Steelwork erection began after a protection slab was installed over a fuel pipeline that runs under the site.

The crane’s jib heights were restricted due to the proximity of the airport’s runway.

Steelwork offered the most viable solution for the construction of both distribution centres.

Main contractor Winvic Construction started on site during August 2019 and initially had to import 26,000m³ of material to build up the levels above the airport’s jet fuel line.

Known as the Manchester Airport Pipeline System (MAPS), it is owned by Manchester Jetline and consists of a high-pressure fuel pipeline that provides a supply of product to Manchester Airport. It runs in an approximate ‘L’ shape across the site, effectively cutting the plot in two.

“As part of the project we installed a 3m wide, 300mm thick, reinforced concrete bridging (‘protection’) slab across its entire length, circa 500m,” says Winvic Construction Project Manager Matt Percival.

“This transfers any imposed loads into the ground either side of the pipeline, not through the pipe. All works on the pipeline have to be supervised by the pipeline’s owner’’

Once these preliminary tasks had been completed, along with the installation of retaining walls, Caunton Engineering was able to begin its steelwork erection programme in November. Working on a design and build contract, Caunton designed all of the steelwork and erected approximately 1,000t of the material for the two distribution centres.

Unit three is approximately 110m-long × 115m-wide with a 15m clear height to the underside of the haunch. The structure will offer 11,900m² of industrial or warehouse space and features three internal spans of 38.33m. It also includes a three-storey integral 930m² office block and plant deck positioned at one end of the building.

The neighbouring unit four is approximately 115m-long × 85m-wide and is a twin-span portal frame warehouse, with a 12.5m clear height to the underside of the haunch. This structure will be an 8,800m² single storey in-flight meal manufacturing warehouse including an integral three-storey 700m² office area and plant deck.

The three spans in unit three are formed with two rafters, each weighing 2.1t, which were spliced at height during the erection process. Likewise, a similar procedure was undertaken to form the twin spans in unit four, although here the rafters weigh 2.4t each.

Supporting the distribution centre’s long rafters are a variety of columns, varying from 533 × 267 members to 762 × 267 sections and 406 × 140s. The column spacings also vary between each of the buildings, with a column bay width of 4.8m in unit three and larger 8.2m spacing in unit four.

“We used a combination of 40t-capacity and 50t-capacity mobile cranes to erect all of the steelwork, with the heaviest element being the 3.5t valley beams in both distribution centres,” says Caunton Engineering Contract Manager Stuart Cree.

“However, our biggest challenges were the inclement weather, which meant the erection programme was winded off on a number of days, while on a technical note, the lifting operations had to be pre-planned as there was a maximum height of 38m which couldn’t be exceeded by the crane’s jib due to the proximity of the airport.”

Summing up and explaining the use of steel, Mr Percival says: ‘Steel is the most viable material for industrial warehouses, whether that’s from an affordability, durability, sustainability or erection speed point of view.

“It is versatile and allows fewer columns to intrude into the industrial facility, which of course means the space can be used in a flexible way.”

Both units are expected to be complete later this year.

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