A multi-national engine parts and components manufacturer reached out to Steelhead in mid-2019 with an enquiry for a PortaFab product.

During a site visit, we learned the manufacturer was interested in an in-plant modular office, but also that it was facing a more pressing warehousing issue: an offsite storage location across the road. Leasing costs were expected to increase significantly and the logistics of moving product back and forth was hurting efficiency.

The client surmised – correctly – that if the racking in the main facility could be re-oriented and assembled in a more efficient layout, all of its inventory, parts and extrusions could be accommodated in a single location.

Steelhead was happy to quote on the PortaFab modular component, but the manufacturer determined the business priority was addressing the rack.

Having purchased its roll formed rack not so long ago, the client had reached out to the original rack retailer to take on the project – but we asked for an opportunity to compete for the job. The client agreed on the condition of performing a walk-through of a rack project we had designed and installed (a) in the same area; and (b) that incorporated both new and used materials. We were more than happy to oblige, understanding that given the new relationship, such a large investment necessitated demonstrating credibility and competence.

Ultimately, the contract was awarded to Steelhead.



Initially, the scope of the job was thought to be re-orienting the existing aisles of roll formed rack toward the overhead doors and production area. However, the client’s system measured just 16 feet tall – which, at the time, was the standard height of most product storage in the region. Our new layout stretched the system to 20’/22’, increasing the overall utility of the client’s cubic footage.

Upon observation, Steelhead also noticed some of the manufacturer’s heavier inventory required more robust racking. We recommended that at least a portion of the roll formed rack be replaced with structural. The client was new to structural rack, so we organized the tour of a cold storage facility in South Surrey so they could make the best-informed decision possible. Ultimately, they agreed with the suggestion and moved forward with it.

In a subsequent iteration of the project, Steelhead recommended another product. The client needed a better solution for storing long, heavy and awkward bundles of piping measuring 20- to 24-feet in length. A couple of sections of structural cantilever solved the problem.

Other components of the design included the installation of mesh decks, safety cages, row-end guards and a special order of skinny beams for hand picking. We were also able to colour-match the new roll formed racking to the existing rack for visual fluency.



In order to ensure operations were not critically impacted, the project was scheduled to be dismantled, reoriented and installed in sections (versus entire rows.) For maximum efficiency of our installer’s labour, clear communication between the Steelhead project manager and the client’s on-the-ground point of contact was essential to ensure the next designated section was cleared of inventory upon arrival.

Hundreds of bays of roll formed rack were dismantled and re-oriented over the period of many months, performed on a client-friendly schedule that minimized interruption. Our labourers installed over weekends and during quiet times at the plant.

With the new structural cantilever and rack replacing rows of roll formed rack, the client had accumulated an excess of frames and beams – which Steelhead was happy to buy and truck off-site.

This job was completed (top-to-bottom) in eight months, on budget and on time – with tentative plans for that modular office still ongoing.