Engineering, Maximization, and Logistics

Published October 12, 2011

Project Update from Blake Clark, Project Manager and Executive Director

This week is all about engineering, maximization, and logistics. If you’re still reading, you might just be a little geeky, but you’d fit right in around here!

Putting this project together is like putting together one of those jigsaw puzzles without a picture on it. Just thousands of little blank pieces that have to fit together just so without a clear picture to guide you. As I mentioned last time, we’re in the process of testing the fiberglass flooring panels this week. Here’s what we need to know: Will a 3.5-inch-thick panel support 100 pounds per square foot while spanning 10 feet between supports?

If it can, whew! If it can’t, here’s the puzzle. The school has approximately 9,300 feet of floor area. If the panels are 3.5 inches thick, we can fit all the panels necessary for the school’s floor into a single shipping container – with millimeters to spare. If the panels need to be thicker to meet our specifications, we will need two shipping containers. It costs about $13,000 to ship each container, so this would add to our costs considerably.

However, a thicker panel is not our only option. We can reduce the span from 10 feet to 5 feet by adding more steel to the floor. Adding more steel to the floor adds additional cost to the floor framing nearly equal to a second shipping container.

A third option is to reevaluate our specifications. Every project with an engineer’s stamp on it will have a safety margin included. We would need to decide if 100 pounds per square foot was overkill, and if we could get by with a lower rating on the floor. (To visualize 100 pounds per square foot, picture 3 compact cars parked on the floor – stacked on top of each other!!)

For those thinking that there must be an easier (and cheaper) way to do this, believe me, I wish you were right! For now, I’m crossing my fingers that the tests will come out as we’ve predicted, and we can put a few more puzzle pieces together. In fact, if I squint, I think I can start to see the big picture!

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