Dexion Office  provided a purpose-built storage solution to the University of Queensland to meet their need for additional storage space.

Founded in 1910, the University of Queensland now accommodates 47,000 students, including over 11,000 international students from more than 142 countries. With its main campuses located in St Lucia, Ipswich, Gatton, and Herston, the university comprises of 750 buildings and 15 libraries, housing more than two million volumes of books including a century’s worth of literature, journals and magazines.

Its urgent need of additional storage space for its overflowing archives even forced the university to lease a warehouse in the suburb of Milton. However, the facility wasn’t climate controlled, which exposed the precious volumes to risk of damage. The cost of leasing the warehouse was also considerable.

Construction Manager Bill Boyd-Law began discussions with the library team to determine the university’s requirements for a purpose-built storage solution. Researching similar projects for inspiration including the Queensland State Archives and the National Archives in Canberra, their designers found Dexion’s solution to be the most suitable for the university’s needs.

Dexion worked collaboratively with the university in mapping out the full scope of the project. According to Dexion’s National Sales Manager, Michael Cumner the university required high- density archive storage systems to help maximise the use of the floor area. The university’s key requirement was a safe, reliable and user-friendly storage facility that could accommodate the humidity-controlled environment, which was essential to protecting the stored contents.

Achieving the storage volume requirements in the limited space available presented a host of challenges for the team. Together with the university’s Project Architect, Dexion’s lead consultant and Queensland State Sales Manager, Justin Evans, and Design Manager, Wei-Hoe Kim explored numerous layout options before presenting two recommended designs to the university.

Since the specifications of the new storage solution would ultimately drive the design of the new facility, the right layout decision was vital. The university eventually selected a Dexion Eclipse Powered Compactus system that would be the largest ever installed in Australia – once completed, it would comprise 3,456 shelving bays, enough to safely house over 33 kilometres of books.

Work commenced on the university’s new purpose-built, climate-controlled warehouse. Due to the weight of the books being stored, a heavy-duty, reinforced concrete slab was required. With the amount of capacity needed, six Compactus units were installed, each measuring 15.3 metres and comprising of 19.3 metre deep mobile carriages. Each of the 576 shelving bays installed were 1,200mm wide with a heavy-duty carriage capacity of 1,500kg per metre. Ultimately, the units would provide 33,000 lineal metres of storage.

Dexion’s storage solution is intelligent as well as user-friendly. In addition to a unique anti-tilt mechanism designed for seismic conditions and housed in the floor track rather than overhead for better space efficiency, the system is also easy to operate using a green and red start and stop button.

Despite its simplicity, the Eclipse Compactus still enables a high level of flexibility, allowing the Dexion technical support team to reprogram the movement speed of the Compactus, altering the distance between closed carriages, as well as switching carriage movement.

The units also feature Dexion’s Building Interface Module, which is connected to the building’s fire system, enabling the Compactus to be programmed to either open or close if a fire alarm is triggered, protecting against water or smoke damage to the books.

The Eclipse also offers world-class user safety to archive staff accessing the books. Light immune infrared photo-sweeps project a beam along the carriage length of the Eclipse, detecting whether a person or object is in a closing aisle before automatically stopping and retreating the closing carriages.

Safety was also the driving force behind the customised shelving height to avoid any safety risks to staff retrieving books from high shelving. Boyd-Law explains that staff utilise a step ladder and platform with built-in safety rails to a height of only 1.3 metres.

Australia’s largest-ever Eclipse installation is already delivering considerable benefits to the university. Dexion’s storage solution has freed up valuable on-campus space, with some of the reclaimed areas being adapted to much-needed student learning areas. The current load of archive materials consumes only 80% of the storage capacity, which means that the university’s future archiving requirements will be satisfied for another 10-15 years. The university has also enjoyed significant cost savings from not having to lease the sub-standard warehousing space.