Siemens Manufacturing Facility, Hull

Siemens have completed an ambitious £160m wind turbine manufacturing facility to mould the world’s longest wind turbine blades.

Project Details
  • Client

    Siemens plc

  • Architect

    Pringle Brandon Perkins Will

The close proximity of North Sea offshore wind farms has proven a golden ticket for Siemens latest endeavour in creating a substantial 40,000m2 factory in the city of Hull, in partnership with Associated British Ports at Alexandra Dock.

Due to the significant size of the turbine blades, the design of the steel-framed multi-span braced structure measures 300m long by 116m across, with the largest spans being 47m. Whilst manufacturing, painting and drilling these substantial sized wind turbine blades, the site is expected to store them on a specially prepared dockside ahead of its delivery to their offshore destination.

Our Structures team were appointed to work alongside Mace, Volker Fitzpatrick and Pringle Brandon Perkins Will Architects on a full design brief for the manufacturing facility, and our Infrastructure & Environment team were appointed for BREEAM and Principal Designer Advisor duties. We were also appointed as Principal designer for the client fit-out phase. As part of the scope, the team completed compliance visits to four equipment suppliers outside of the UK.

A 2-storey office block connects to the manufacturing plant and features a ‘slim floor’ construction consisting of precast concrete planks supported by plates attached to the underside of the steel members, allowing the slabs to sit within the depth of the beams. This provides the flat soffit required by the client, which is exposed over the majority of the office spaces.

The northern section of the manufacturing roof extends to 15m to accommodate the industrial sized cranes used throughout the manufacturing process, the biggest of which has a 40t-capacity, and was said to be the most challenging aspect of the steelwork design.

With the overhead cranes running across the spans on rails within all the production bays, smaller console cranes will run on steel support rails underneath. Crane support movements need to be tightly controlled due to the gantry girder having to accommodate biaxial loading. Our design uses a heavy steel plate welded to the top of a traditional I-beam rather than the traditional horizontal channel, for ease of fabrication.

The exterior of the construction is a combination of precast concrete panels up to 2.4m and composite cladding to the roof level. The architectural design for the cladding sees it spanning horizontally between the columns, with no sheeting rails. This is unusual, and required additional secondary vertical steel at the main columns to provide a consistent fixing plane for the cladding.

The project also included the design of a second building for logistic support to the overall Siemens port activities. This building is smaller on plan, but reaches 22m in height and includes three overhead cranes of 100t-capacity each.

The factory was officially opened on the 1st December 2016.