Trends in Technology: Prefabricated Shelters

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There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all cookie-cutter design. Your building criteria should be based on purpose, function, equipment placement and required customization. All leading prefabricated shelter companies have an in-house staff that will work with the customer to ascertain their needs and design a building that best meets those requirements – both now and far into the future. Many companies also offer a high-level of integration assistance where needed by a customer who may otherwise have limited staff or other qualified external services available. In some cases, new broadcast equipment can be delivered directly to a structure manufacturer who will place the equipment within the building including electrical and HVAC systems connectivity. The building is assembled and completely wired to the customer’s exact specifications within a well-controlled environment at the manufacturer’s facility. When the building arrives on site, the station can be placed on the air quickly with minimal effort. That methodology is highly desirable for organizations seeking a turnkey installation.

Once set in place, the building is secured to the foundation pad.

Once set in place, the building is secured to the foundation pad.

When planning a building, it is important to coordinate requirements with well-qualified designers, architects, engineers, technicians, contractors, and, of course, the station’s owner. Build a team who will guarantee the best possible end result. Closely integrate the local design team with the prefabrication-building vendor’s team of in-house experts.

What to look for

Determine the design criteria of the building by calculating several parameters up front. Consider equipment sizes and placements, weights, BTU outputs, ventilation, cooling and heating requirements, and electrical power needs. Specify what RF cables will be entering and exiting the building and where. Note required cable ladders and the need for a cable entry port. Work with the building’s design team to create a master ground system within the building (halo type or other as determined) and be sure the building’s master ground system is properly connected to the tower ground system. Include EMI and RFI shielding if required. Specify an electrical surge suppressor unit for the building that will protect the entire internal electrical distribution system. When a standby electrical power generator is to be placed, specify the placement of its automatic transfer switch (ATS) within the building. Many building manufacturers can provide a structure that will include a separate room for housing the generator within projects that have a sufficient budget for such. Be sure to include the necessary surge suppression systems for all incoming and outgoing RF lines, communications and data lines, etc. For customers located in heavy snow and ice climates, roof weight bearing load should become a design criteria along with roof protection from falling ice formed on adjacently located towers. Also include protection over externally located emergency standby power generators and other critical equipment located in a similar manner.

To further protect the new facility, specify a highly functional and reliable security system that will monitor and/or detect the following parameters: intrusion, high and low temperature, humidity, air conditioning compressor lockout, smoke, fire, tower intrusion, building external entry port ground system tampering (copper theft is an issue), moisture and power failure.

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