When Huntington-Ingalls Industries, the No.1 name in military shipbuilding in the country, took over the historic Avondale shipyard from a rival company, it acquired structures from Big Top that had been used at the previous facility and recognized the many benefits that the covers provided. To further their goal of becoming one of the most modern shipbuilding companies in the industry, HII approached Big Top to see if it was possible to create rolling covers on a much larger scale for their operations in Pascagoula, Mississippi.
A Collaborative Approach
At Big Top, we are more than just a manufacturer – we are a vital resource for shelter solutions across nearly every industry. For this project, our design, engineering, and production teams all came together to work closely with the shipyard’s engineering department, state representatives, and architectural firms to find the perfect solution for HII’s production.
A Telescopic Design for Modern Shipbuilding
Big Top was able to help HII realize its goal of being the shipbuilder of the future by engineering large-scale rolling covers with telescopic maneuverability. We installed an automated railing system that allows segments of the structure to slide under one another, providing access for a crane and streamlining the modular nature of the shipbuilding process. Now, prefabricated sections can be built under the shelter, then lifted out by crane and welded to the ship. By installing these custom, automated rolling covers, we were able to help HII construct ships on a larger and faster scale, improve its chances of getting more business in the future, and lead the industry in shipbuilding design.
Better Working Conditions for Shipbuilders
An added benefit that HII’s rolling covers provided is the improved working conditions for its staff. Working under the hot southern sun and in the notorious Mississippi humidity before the covers were installed was a grueling effort for laborers, who often had to take breaks to avoid heat-related illnesses caused by prolonged exposure to the elements. Dianna Grenton, Manager of Manufacturing and Engineering, notes that the human factor element was considered when choosing Big Top because her staff needed to perform their duties safely sheltered from the heat and rain.
Indeed, Big Top’s shelters are designed for just such a situation. The fabric roof of the rolling covers is heat reflective and repels up to 99.95 percent of harmful UV-A and UV-B radiation. Thanks to this unique feature, the interiors of HII’s shelters naturally stay at a comfortable temperature that is, on average, 15 degrees cooler than the hot Mississippi climate, without help from an HVAC system. HII’s employees now work comfortably under the fabric roof, requiring far fewer breaks and therefore increasing production. By providing “a mechanism for them to get out of the heat and out of the rain,” Dianna Grenton continues, “it’s really going to transform the way we do business.”
Considering the savings that HII enjoyed after eliminating the costs associated with employees getting sick due to heat exposure, the shelters essentially paid for themselves. Additionally, now that HII’s staff can continue to work even during inclement weather, production downtime is reduced, allowing it to stay on budget and complete projects ahead of time.
Big Top is proud to have served the marine and military industries since our founding in 1979. The versatility and myriad benefits that our fabric structures provide have helped countless companies improve their operations. If you’d like to learn more about our shelter systems and how we can custom build one to meet the needs of your business, contact Big Top today.