A tan-colored pre-engineered metal building

Pre-engineered metal buildings are revolutionizing the construction industry. These structures are designed and manufactured offsite in sections, then transported and assembled onsite. 

Pre-engineered metal buildings provide numerous advantages over traditional construction in terms of cost, efficiency, durability and adaptability. As a result, pre-engineered buildings are gaining in popularity.

The Evolution of Construction Methods

The concept of pre-engineered buildings first emerged in the 1830s in the UK, when Manning Portable Colonial Cottages were transported to Australia and assembled to house colonists. These early homes were made mainly of wood and bolted together onsite.

Over the next century, pre-engineered construction was used sporadically for niche applications like military housing and mobile classrooms. However, the buildings were seen as temporary, low-quality structures.

This perception began to shift in the 1950s and 60s. Engineers at companies realized that if sheets of galvanized steel were bolted together, the sections could be pre-engineered as entire building frames in a factory. This allowed for greater quality control, and then the frames were trucked out and craned into place at the final site.

While uptake was initially slow, the concept gained traction through the 70s and 80s as metal building technology advanced. Use expanded from agricultural to commercial and industrial spaces. Customization options increased and standards were met to verify safety and resilience.

Today, the market for pre-engineered metal buildings continues to grow. Continued innovation is enhancing quality and customization while reducing costs. As technology develops, so will the dominance of pre-engineered metal buildings across all construction sectors.

Why Pre-Engineered Metal Buildings Are the Future

A pre-engineered metal building with a large garage sits behind a railroad crossing

Several key advantages are spurring the rise of pre-engineered metal buildings as the future of construction:

Cost Savings

Pre-engineered metal buildings can offer substantial cost savings. These savings stem from streamlined design, bulk materials purchases, optimized factory production, and reduced onsite labor needs. Building owners can allocate extra capital to enhancements like specialized flooring, updated lighting or additional square footage.

Construction Speed

Whereas traditional buildings take months to complete, pre-engineered buildings can be installed in weeks. Sections are manufactured concurrently based on a digital model, then transported and rapidly assembled onsite. This allows owners to start operations sooner, generating returns faster. Speed also gets buildings enclosed quicker, reducing risks like weather delays.

Enhanced Durability

Pre-engineered metal buildings are designed to withstand the elements and changing environmental conditions. Galvanized steel construction resists corrosion while roof and wall panels are thermally efficient and easily shed rain, snow and excess heat. Anchoring and framing systems are engineered to perform during high winds or seismic events.

Adaptable Format

Pre-engineered designs are highly customizable with modular, expansive size and layout options. Expanding an existing pre-engineered structure is also straightforward – additional frames can be engineered to extend walls or height. Interior layouts in the open-span interiors can be reconfigured to accommodate evolving needs. This flexibility ensures buildings meet the needs of those who will be using them.

Applications of Pre-Engineered Metal Buildings

The interior of a pre-engineered metal building with machinery inside

The innate advantages of pre-engineered metal buildings make them suitable across sectors:

Industrial Facilities

For manufacturing plants, mines, refineries, waste facilities and more, pre-engineered metal buildings provide rugged, specialized shells purpose-built to handle heavy demands. Custom cranes, conveyors, hoppers, platforms and other equipment can be pre-integrated directly into structural models to optimize layouts and clearances.

Lean-to designs seamlessly adjoin operational wings while modular framing enables straightforward expansions as operations scale up. Open interiors without columns provide limitless equipment configurations. Performance finishes like thick concrete slab foundations, epoxy floors and chemical coatings create durable work zones.

Buildings can also be designed around space constraints with narrow wall profiles and angled roof lines that maximize clearance and height. When every dimension and gauge thickness is engineered to application, pre-engineered metal buildings enhance quality, safety and operational efficiencies.

Commercial Spaces

Pre-engineered metal buildings help commercial builders save on costs and construction timelines. Once the shell is set, interiors can be customized with electrical, mechanical and finishes to suit aesthetic needs. Adaptive designs also enable renovating spaces down the line to attract continued patron traffic.

How Pre-Engineered Metal Buildings Are Constructed

The exact construction process for a pre-engineered metal building varies based on dimensions, location and building use. However, generally, the workflow includes:

Design Stage

The owner partners with a specialized pre-engineered builder like Nucor Building Systems from SW Funk. Customization options are discussed to create a 3D model meeting project specifications.

Manufacturing

The 3D design is split into segments mirroring the sequence of onsite assembly. Teams mass produce the properly labeled wall panels, rafters, column supports and accessory components.

Transport

Finished segments are shipped  to the final building site. For global projects, items may first be containerized and shipped overseas. Wide or long pieces may require special permits.

Onsite Installation

Crews prepare the site area and mount the slab foundation. A crane lifts steel frame components in the planned order while teams bolt everything together. Secondary builder crews add accessories like overhead doors, windows, insulation, roofing and siding and then complete interior fit-out.

About SW Funk Industrial Contractors

SW Funk Industrial Contractors specializes in designing and constructing custom pre-engineered metal buildings for industrial facilities across North America. With years of experience and status as authorized Nucor builders, the SW Funk Industrial Contractors team handles projects of all sizes, from structural engineering to final details. 

Clients trust our company’s expertise in constructing durable, adaptable pre-engineered metal buildings optimized for equipment clearance, site conditions, energy savings and flexibility. To learn more about collaborating on an upcoming pre-engineered metal building project, contact SW Funk Industrial Contractors, your trusted industrial contractor.

Contact us to learn more about pre-engineered metal building with our team.