Monolithic Dome Super-Efficient Heavy Equipment Shop
*August 15, 2005*
by David B. South
The Monolithic Dome makes a super-efficient and functional steel fabrication facility or heavy equipment shop. One reason is because the Dome is ideally suited for a polar crane. What is a polar crane? A polar crane has one end that swivels in the middle and the other end which rotates around the perimeter. Inside a Monolithic Dome, a polar crane never gets trapped. You can always maneuver it to the left or right.
It is also possible to put two cranes on the same rail. Using this design allows something to be picked up and moved with both cranes working together. The perimeter of a building is rarely serviced by an overhead crane. The area near the walls of a building is where the tool boxes, supplies and work stations are located. It is usually closer to the center of the shop where cranes are handy. With a Monolithic Dome the polar crane(s) are located where they service the center 3/4 of the dome leaving the perimeter free for work stations. This free span design substantially lowers construction costs.
Additional cost savings are in the length of the crane arm. By using a polar crane, the arm only needs to reach from the center of the dome to the perimeter. If you are in the steel fabrication business or heavy equipment repair, a Monolithic Dome shop with a polar crane is an ideal solution.
If your shop is located in the cold regions of the world, you can install radiant floor heat. The heated floor in the winter time can eliminate leg troubles for mechanics and workers -- which is common in cold shops. With in-floor heat, the most comfortable place in the shop becomes laying on top of the creeper under a car.
Because of its superior insulation, shops located in the south where air conditioning is a "must-have" are more affordable to cool and in the north easier and cheaper to heat.
We don't think of it very often but when you open the big door of the shop to let equipment in or out, a conventional shop immediately cools off in the winter time and warms up in the summer. Because Monolithic Domes have a thermal battery, heat or cooling loss isn't an issue. You simply shut the door and the latent heat in the shell will immediately bring the temperature back to whatever it was before the door was opened. The same principle applies to cool air. This point was proven many times over in our shop in Idaho. Even with subzero temperature, we would open and close the doors to put equipment in and out and within minutes the building would be back to it's original temperature.
One of the first Monolithic Dome shops built in Idaho was for an auto mechanic. It was one of the hardest sales I ever made. He wanted 2000 square feet of space because that's what he had in his existing shop. His biggest concern was design options. After twisting his arm a bit to build a Monolithic Dome, we finally constructed a 50-foot dome. After the shop was done and he used the facility for some time, I went to see him. I asked him how he liked his shop. He said, "I don't know how anyone could have a shop in a square building." He loved the ease of working in the dome and the design of the shop.
Because the perimeter of a dome is lengthy, work stations can be built around the perimeter. Circulation space for walking and moving around is minimal allowing far more space for efficient work areas. A Monolithic Dome equipment shop is far more space efficient than a square, conventional building.