Milton Keynes based storage specialist, LINPAC Storage Systems, has recently completed an archive storage facility for Supporta Professional Services at Heyford Park in Oxfordshire.
The 9,200 sq.ft. unit is not the usual storage facility. Upper Heyford was established as a Royal Fighter Command aerodrome in 1915. The site then became an RAF bomber station in the 1920's and 30's. Not long after WWII, the US Air Force (USAF) leased the air base from the Ministry Of Defence (MoD) as part of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) alliance. By the mid-1970's the F-111E, “Aardvark” fighter bombers were stationed there and 56 'bomb proof' shelters were built to house these planes.
The USAF closed its operation in 1994, at which time the site was returned to the MoD. Following a period of uncertainty when various usage options were considered, the site has been turned over to commercial enterprise.
Michael Watts, Head of Operations for Supporta Professional Services takes up the story, “We wanted a secure facility to house the confidential archive documents of our clients and these Cold War aircraft shelters seemed ideal.
“There were a number of obstacles to overcome, not least the fact that these structures have significant historical value. As a consequence, we have worked closely with English Heritage to preserve the integrity of the unit, whilst transforming it into a high security archive for our clients' storage of documents.”
Initially, Supporta asked four racking and shelving companies to tender for the unusual project. They chose LINPAC Storage Systems to work with for several reasons. Watts again, “Having a UK manufacturing operation based in Milton Keynes close to our site was very appealing. We knew that one of the LINPAC team was always close by and throughout the duration of the project we were continually impressed by the communication from them.
“Through this close consultation we were able to increase the storage capacity in the unit from 59,000 to 66,000 standard boxes (41.0 x 35.0 x 26.5cm) – a 12% improvement. The storage equipment is a very snug fit within the structure and there is absolutely no wasted space. To ensure a good working environment for our staff we have thought very carefully about lighting.
“Whilst we weren't allowed to remove the original lights, we have been able to install bright modern lighting and air conditioning to maintain a constant temperature and humidity in the building. This is vitally important to preserve the condition of our clients' material.
“The boxes are stored in a multi-tier shelving system comprising of three levels. It is serviced by two pallet gates at the front of the structure which enable the fork lift truck to deliver bulk loads to the first and second levels. LINPAC have done a remarkable job to maximise the roof space. The shelving structure follows the contour of the arched roof literally from wall to wall thanks to some bespoke engineering for the uprights.
“The new facility has become our flagship shelter and when we show it to our customers it is abundantly clear that they are impressed with not only the security, accessibility and efficiency of it, but also its unique nature, concludes Watts.