Why Are Open-Web Steel Joists the Most Advantageous Option When Building a Warehouse?



Category:   -  Published by: Pierre Proulx

With the recent boom in e-commerce sales, warehouses and distribution centres have been multiplying at an impressive rate. In addition to facilitating floor space optimization, these buildings must be built quickly and at low costs. Opting for open-web steel joists is the key to meeting these challenges. Discover why.


Joists and open-web steel joists: how do they compare?

While engineers generally favour traditional beams when designing and constructing buildings such as warehouses, open-web steel joists are actually a better option.


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What are joist girders?

These components are designed and manufactured by Canam. Less well known than regular joists, open-web steel joists are better suited to warehouse construction. Over the years, engineers have made a habit of using beam structures, and steel suppliers promote them as the best solution. For the most part, this traditional method is often preferred simply because it is believed to be less expensive than open-web steel joists.

However, the price of steel should not be the only aspect that is taken into consideration! 

It is no coincidence that the majority of warehouses built in the United States use open-web steel joists. In addition to being lighter, they offer a greater load-bearing capacity per kilogram or pound of steel used because of their flexible configuration options, while their superior “long span” greatly facilitates on-site assembly. Yet, the greatest advantage is undoubtedly the need for fewer columns, as it allows for a more open warehouse space! 

In contrast, a joist system offers little flexibility. Its design is rather limited because of the length and bearing capacity of each beam. Although a beam system costs less in steel, it is more expensive to install. This drawback should definitely be taken into consideration! Moreover, the beam system requires more bolts, connections between components, and time and labour to assemble. Since it contains more columns, it also necessitates additional foundations. When added up, these factors increase project costs.


Why choose open-web steel joists?

Aside from their impressive long span capacity, open-web steel joists offer various other advantages. They can be used in the majority of warehouses and distribution centres, as long as there is sufficient clear height, i.e. slightly more than what is needed for regular joists. Let’s explore their multiple benefits.

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Since we manufacture our own open-web steel joists, our team takes care of material purchase. Depending on market prices, raw materials can also be used without significantly increasing project costs. In light of the current market fluctuations, availability and cost stability should not be taken lightly.


Floor Space Optimization

Open-web steel joists possess an excellent bearing capacity with a long span superior to 15.2 m (50 ft). Since they require fewer columns, they allow for floor space optimization while minimizing warehouse organization constraints. Open-web steel joists are therefore ideal for warehouses that use robotics and automation. Although warehouse design is always planned according to the leaseholder’s needs, its purpose and requirements may evolve over time. The flexibility of open -web steel joists is therefore an asset for warehouse logistics, as each square metre (or square foot) must be optimized.


Air Circulation

Spaces found in open-web steel joists promote air circulation, therefore facilitating ventilation and interior climate control. This characteristic leads to savings on air conditioning equipment since the configuration requires fewer fans. It also eliminates air containment problems, which are often an issue with joists systems. In addition, light also travels more efficiently throughout the warehouse, which also lowers equipment and energy bill costs.


Flexible Building Mechanical

Contrary to solid beams, ventilation pipes, sprinklers and various ducts can be routed through the spaces found in open-web steel joists. Their configuration also facilitates the connection between the structures and mechanics. Since there are fewer obstacles blocking the passage of ducts, less reinforcement is required. In short, open-web steel joists lead to more savings while ensuring peace of mind!


Safe and Easy Assembly

The quick assembly requires few connections and bolts. Since facilities become available faster, warehouse owners greatly benefit from this competitive advantage. It is even possible to proceed through penalization. In this case, open-web steel joists and regular joists are assembled on the ground in panels. Upon completion, these panels are then installed. This option reduces accident risks since it limits handling at 12.2 m (40 ft) above ground.


Given their numerous advantages, open-web steel joists should definitely be considered when planning a building project! Our experts can help you make the right choices. Aside from the price of raw material, the type of structure also has an impact on the project as a whole and its longevity.


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