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Publication numberUS3785314 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateJan 15, 1974
Filing dateJul 3, 1972
Priority dateJul 3, 1972
Publication numberUS 3785314 A, US 3785314A, US-A-3785314, US3785314 A, US3785314A
InventorsScanlan H
Original AssigneeShoreline Precast Co
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Floating factory for the manufacture of building components
US 3785314 A
A floating factory for the manufacture of building components comprises a multiplicity of modular floating deck barges arranged in adjacent relation to form a substantially continuous work area. The barges are ballasted or initially constructed to maintain the work area essentially level with the barges in a plane. The barges are preferably connected together to form the work area in a manner that resiliently holds them in adjacent relation while still affording a controlled relative movement under wave action, wind loads, live load transfer or other forces tending to cause relative movement of the barges. A roof and exterior walls enclose at least a part of the work area, and preferably all of the work area, and bridges connect the decks of at least some of the adjacent barges for transport of materials and products around the work area.
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Claims  available in
Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

l l4/0.5 F

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rges are the work [451 Jan. 15, 1974 Georgii............................. Georgieu et al.... 7/1966 Kaltenecker.....................

, Graves, Donohue & Raymond ABSTRACT A floating factory for the manufacture of building gether to form the manner that resiliently holds them in 11 while still affording a controlled relative movement under wave action, wind loads, live 10 Primary Examiner-Duane A. Reger Assistant ExaminerCharles E. Frankfort Att0rneyBrumbaugh components comprises a multiplicity of modular floating deck barges arranged in adjacent relation to form a substantially continuous work area. The ba ballasted or initially constructed to maintain area essentially level with the barges in a plane. The barges are preferably connected to work area in a adjacent relatio ad transfer or other forces tending to cause relative 114/0.5 F B63b 35/00 114/05 R, 0.5 BD, 77, 43.5, 28, 230; 61/465; 9/8 P, 2 R, 2 S


Assignee: Shoreline Precast Company, New

York, NY.

Filed: July 3 Appl. No.: 268,

Field of Search....................

References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS United States Patent [191 Scanlan g movement of the barges. A roof and exterior walls en- 14 0,5 5 close at least a part of the work area, and preferably 1 14/235 A all of the work area, and bridges connect the decks of 1 R at least some of the adjacent barges for transport of 114/0-5 F materials and products around the work area.

1 l4/() 5 F 1 l4/43.5 27 Claims, 12 Drawing Figures Laycock............,,'....... Sciford et al...... Benson.....


Barton Watts et a1 Fu1ton...... Hamilton..

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a .M .r v a w PATENTEDJAH 151914. 3785314 SHEET 2 (If 5 FIG. 3

PATENTEDJAH 15 I874 SHEET a BF 5 'IIIQ HH FLOATING FACTORY FOR THE MANUFACTURE OF BUILDING COMPONENTS BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION This invention relates to a floating factory for manufacture of modular building components and, in particular, to a factory made up of individual modular barges that enable the overall factory to be dismantled and the individual barges to be moved conveniently to various sites.

In recent years there have been widespread efforts to develop techniques for the mass production of buildings, particularly for housing purposes, involving the fabrication of building units or elements in a permanent factory. Development in this area has been somewhat hampered by the variety of building codes that exist in various areas that might be served by a permanent factory. Moreover, the problems of locating the factory near rail and highway transportation limits the available sites for such factories. Even more importantly, the cost of transporting the elements or units fabricated in a permanent factory is substantial and, of course, increases, the greater the distance the factory is from the construction site. Accordingly, the area that can economically be served by permanent factories is definitely limited. The ability of a factory to produce a sufficient variety of building components or units that will meet the building codes of areas served by the factory is an additional cost factor and represents an important disadvantage to a permanent factory.

An alternative to setting up a permanent factory from which to distribute a variety of building elements or units to a selected region is the construction of a temporary on-site factory on land at or in the immediate vicinity of the construction site. Inasmuch as the factory itself may occupy part of the land on which the development is built, a fewer number of units can be installed on the site where adjacent vacant land is cleared and available; arrangements for its lease or sale must be made; moreover, an economical temporary factory is usually less efficient than a permanent factory, requires substantial costs in transporting setting up, and dismantling, and must often be modified greatly to be used at any other than a particular site.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION There is provided, in accordance with the present invention, a new approach to the fabrication of modular building elements that combines the advantages of an essentially permanent factory that is capable of a high rate of production with a high degree of efficiency, often with the added advantages of an onsite" factory located relatively near to the constructionsite. The factory, according to the invention, is susceptible of being moved from place to place at relatively low cost and with a minimum of modifications to alter the facilities to produce building elements appropriate for another project at another location.

More particularly, the invention relates to a floating factory for the manufacture of modular building components comprising a multiplicity of floating deck barges arranged in adjacent relation to form an essen tially continuous work area. The barges are ballasted or are initially built to maintain the work area essentially level with the decks of all barges in a plane. Where the barge factory is located on quiet water, such as small bays, inlets, river sites, etc., which are free of heavy marine traffic and associated wakes or washes, the barges may be rigidly connected together at the site. Where natural windblown waves or marine traffic washes produce moderate water action at the site, which will] frequently be the case, it is preferable for the barges to be resiliently connected together in adjacent relation in a manner that, instead of resisting relative movement of the barges by rigid and strong connections, affords controlled relative movement, thus allowing the barges to move under wave action, upon transfer of loads between the barges, wind loads and any other conditions tending to produce relative movement.

In most cases in which moderate water movement is expected, the sides and ends of the barge hulls are flat, and the hull structures are sufficiently strong to enable the barges to be connected together under controlled pressure engagement. The weights, masses and pressure engagements of the barges inhibit relative movements of adjacent barges, and the flotilla as a whole is therefore highly stable. Nonetheless, a resilient interconnection of the barges affords an opportunity for some relative movement, but movement that is controlled and damped.

Various forms of resilient connection between barges may be employed. Where the water site of the factory is relatively quiet and is unlikely to have heavy wave action, the barges of the barge factory flotilla may simply be lashed together by cabling. Preferably, a cable arrangement involves relatively widely-spaced tie points on adjacent barges with substantial lengths of cable extending from a tie point on one barge to a remote tie point on the other barge so that the inherent extensibility of the cable provides a degree of resilient movement between the barges. The cables may be looped around the tie points and lead to a constant tension winch that maintains a desired tension on the cable but releases to allow the barges to move apart under extreme forces imposed on them.

Another form of interconnection between the barges, one that can be used where heavy waves or marine traffic wash is likely, involves tying the barges together, such as by cabling, and providing a ring of pilings around the perimeter of the total barge flotilla. The edges of the perimeter barges of the flotilla are tied by cables to the pilings, and the ends of the individual tying cables are connected to constant tension winches. The same pilings that surround the flotilla may support a bulkhead to protect the site of the flotilla from wave action in the body of water outside of the bulkhead. The tension held on the cables that tie the outside barges to the pilings holds the individual barges of the flotilla away from each other. The degree of separation or spacing between the barges is controlled by the cables or other ties between the individual barges so that the entire flotilla resembles, in function, a large sprung network having a relatively high degree of flexibility that enables the individual barges to rock moderately in a controlled manner under the action of wave swells that intrude into the site.

The spring-type flotilla interconnection is preferably extended functionally by the damping and stabilizing effect of additional resilient elements interconnecting the superstructure of the barges. As described further below, each of the barges has columns that support such elements as a roof, overhead equipment and, in the case of perimeter barges of the flotilla, walls; although the columns of each barge are structurally independent of the columns of adjacent barges, shockabsorber elements connected between the columns of adjacent barges contribute to the stability and a sharing between barges of loads. The shock absorbers also inhibit sudden movements of individual barges that might be caused by waves, wakes of marine traffic or wind gusts.

The above and other forms of resilient tying of the barge flotilla provide the combined advantages of producing a relatively stable platform without the requirement for strong elaborate connections between the barges, connections which might be so rigid as to produce a significant risk of the flotilla breaking up in the event of heavy waves or other unusual conditions. The resilient system allows the flotilla to roll with the punches", in that the energy of wave and wind forces is only partially resisted; some of the energy is transferred from barge to barge in the form of controlled movements. This preferred feature of the invention is of some importance, in that it enables the individual barges of the flotilla to be united into a work area while also providing a form of connection that is relatively easy to dismantle and reconnect, thus facilitating movement of the factory from site to site.

A roof and exterior walls enclose at least part, and preferably all, of the work area, and bridges installed between the barges at the factory site connect the decks of at least some of the barges to provide roadways for carrier transport of materials and products around the work area and for movement of personnel between barges.

The individual barges of the total flotilla making up the factory are preferably shaped and dimensioned as modules of the entire factory so that various arrangements of the barges can be made to accommodate the overall factory to the body of water where it is set up. For example, all of the barges may be rectangular, and have a length that is an integer multiple of the width. An excellent modular basis is a large length approximately three times the barge width. With such an arrangement, each barge is preferably subdivided into approximately square bays by columns located at the corner of each such bay. The columns support the roof structure and the peripheral walls of the factory area. The columns may also be used to support overhead equipment such as travelling cranes or other material handling equipment, concrete vibrating equipment, heating equipment, and other elements of the factory.

The number of barges making up the flotilla and the nature of the fitting out of the individual barges may vary significantly, depending upon the type of production operations to be carried on. A highly effective plant layout having a working area of a size accommodating sufficient facilities to provide a fairly high rate of production comprises approximately 12 barges, each of which has a length approximately three times its width and is subdivided into three generally square bays measuring on the order of 35 feet each. The overall configuration of the flotilla and the arrangement of the individual barges, with this modular arrangement, can be varied to match the flotilla arrangement to the site. One of the barges is fitted out with concrete batching and mixing facilities, preferably with three individual batching and mixing units, one of which is located in each of the three bays of the mixing barge. The concrete mixing barge is an essentially permanent installation and is moved essentially intact with the flotilla,

thereby requiring a minimum of modification to permit its use with the factory located at various sites and fitted out to produce various forms of building elements. Among other essentially permanently fitted barges is a barge provided with offices and laboratory facilities to house the personnel running the factory and the quality control and planning functions associated with the factory. Again this barge may be moved essentially intact with the other barges of the flotilla from site to site. A power supply barge of an essentially permanent nature and equipped with one or more diesel-powered electric generators, air compressors, boilers and any other central prime power units may be provided.

Where the water site on which the factory is set up is sufficiently close to shore to make it possible to either construct a bridge or landfill passage between the flotilla and the shore, the concrete products produced on the barge, after reaching an appropriate early strength, may be taken off the barge flotilla factory area and moved on to land for final curing and for ultimate transhipment to the construction site. In other cases, such as when it is inconvenient or impractical to move the building elements directly from the factory onto land for curing and trans-shipment, the barge factory may have special, essentially permanently fitted out steam-curing barges. Each of the steam curing barges has curing rooms maintained at an elevated temperature and 100 percent humidity to provide an accelerated cure of the concrete elements. The steam generating equipment and steam supply systems for the curing rooms on the steam-curing barges are also located on these barges and render the steam-curing barges substantially self-contained. A number of steam-curing barges may be used in order to provide a sufficient curing capacity to handle the production of the plant over a period of time at least equal to the curing time. Upon sufficient curing, the elements are transferred from the curing barges directly to the land over a bridge or a landfill roadway, in the case of shore-connected factories, or onto transport barges. Where transport barges are used, the factory products can be transported over even rather long distances to shore-side job locations or to a trans-shipment area near the job for pickup and immediate delivery to the job site. In other instances, the products taken from the steam-curing barges may be transported by barge to a convenient on-shore storage site for later trans-shipment to the job site.

Generally, it will be both economical and efficient to deliver supplies to the floating factory by barge, partic ularly in the cases of cement and aggregates used for the concrete. Reinforcing steel and other construction materials may be brought by either barge or, if the plant is set up with bridge or landfill access to the shore, by truck or rail. The factory is, of course, provided with an appropriate material handling system. In cases where the individual barges are resiliently interconnected to form the work area and it is contemplated that some relative movement between the barges may occur, the most practical material handling system will usually employ vehicles that run on roadways or trackways on the factory floor. The various work areas of the factory are, in such cases, located to leave the required roadways or trackways. A good type of transport vehicle system is based on three-wheeled vehicles of a type providing a short-turning radius that permits the vehicle to make short-radius turns to pick up or unload materials and products on one or both sides of the roadways.

A system of approximately 12 modular barges will usually include at least six concrete pouring barges, each of which has appropriate concrete forms and supporting equipment. Some building components can be poured in batteries of forms that are vertically oriented and located below the deck level in the holds of the barges. Other elements may be poured in horizontal forms on the barge decks. An additional two barges may be set up for form building, form cleaning, steel fabrication, special fabrication and assembly of stair parts, window and door frames and bucks that may be poured in place in the molds and any other fabricating procedures involved in the factory. Another one or two of the 12 barges may have relatively open decks where the building components are given final finishing touches prior to being final-cured or are fitted with additional components. As mentioned previously, a power supply barge, an office-laboratory barge, and a concrete batching and mixing barge make up the other basic barge units of the factory flotilla. Steam-curing barges, where desired, are additional barges in the system, as are any transport barges for supplying the factory and for transport of the products of the factory.

In addition to the advantages of accommodating a semi-permanent, efficient factory for the manufacture of building components and at the same time providing for movement of the entire factory from one place to another, the invention presents the prospect of enabling the development on an economical basis of coastal areas in urban centers that are undeveloped or, though developed, have fallen into decay as the facilities originally located on them, such as manufacturing plants, have become obsolete or economically unproductive in terms of land use. Such unused or underutilized waterside land sites exist in many urban centers and are available for development for housing in preference to other possible uses. In many instances, such sites are significantly less expensive than other possible housing sites in large urban centers. The invention is also very well-suited for use in the development of landfill projects.

With the floating factory of the invention, the flotilla of barges may be moved into a convenient near-shore location, frequently with the possibility of bridging or landfilling to provide immediate access to the shore, which may well be the construction site itself. Ordinarily, the factory flotilla will have been disassembled at the previous site, moved as individual barges or as a multiple-tow by tugs and then reassembled at the new site. Usually, only minor refitting of the barges to set them up for the manufacture of appropriate elements for the new job is required. In some instances, a refitting of the factory is unnecessary, such as in situations where the new job employs the same building components as the previous job. In any instance, many of the essential facilities of the factory remain permanently installed on selected barges and require no refitting. On the other hand, it is an equally important advantage of the invention that refitting of individual barges for a new job may readily be accomplished. For example, new forms for the next job can be prebuilt at or near the next job site (or at the old site) and then put aboard the appropriate barges. Similarly, spare barges can be prefitted with equipment for a new job and brought to the new factory site for plugging in" to the rest of the flotilla.

The versatility of the various arrangements of the modular barges provides a further advantage in that bodies of water of various shapes can be used as a site for the factory, the flotilla being arranged geometrically in a manner appropriately to fit into the available water site.

The primary advantages of the invention, however, are the capability of a large, efficient production operation for the manufacture of building components combined with a more or less temporary and movable facility. The factory may be set up for anywhere from a matter of months to perhaps two or three years for a given project. Although the invention offers perhaps the greatest advantages in employment for development of shore front property, in which case the factory may very often be set up immediately adjacent to the project site, an examination of any map will indicate that almost all important urban centers in this country and indeed in most countries of the world, are located relatively close to navigable water, navigable to the extent of accepting the relatively low-draft barges employed in the floating factory of the invention.

DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS For a better understanding of the invention, reference may be made to the following description of exemplary embodiments, taken in conjunction with the figures of the accompanying drawings, in which:

FIGS. l to 4 are schematic plan views illustrating appropriate layouts for floating factories according to the invention;

FIG. 5 is a pictorial view ofa portion of an exemplary factory, a portion of the roof and wall of the factory being broken out to show the interior;

FIG. 6 is a plan view of four typical concrete pouring barges of one layout of the factory;

FIG. 7 is an enlarged detail showing an intersection between four barges and illustrating one way in which the barges are resiliently interconnected and also illustrating a bridging arrangement;

FIG. 8 is a side view in cross-section taken at the corner intersection illustrated in FIG. 7, the view being taken generally along a plane represented by the lines 8-8 of FIG. 7 and looking in the direction of the arrows;

FIG. 9 is a plan view of two steam-curing barges that are sometimes employed in a factory according to the invention;

FIG. 10 is an end view in cross-section of one of the two curing barges and a portion of the other one illustrated in FIG. 9, the view being taken generally along a plane represented by the lines 10-10 of FIG. 9 and looking in the direction of the arrows;

FIG. 11 is a plan view of several intersections between the ends of several barges and the side of another barge of a factory flotilla and illustrating a cable-tie arrangement and a bridge arrangement between the barges; and

FIG. 12 is a generally schematic, elevational view of portions of columns on adjacent barges having shockother of the production requirements of the factory. A typical flotilla, the individual barges of which may be placed side by side or end to end in various arrangements, as will be described below, comprises the following basic barges, each of which is designated by the same letter designation in all of the figures of the drawmgs.

I. An office-laboratory barge O-L that is appropriately constructed to provide required office facilities, laboratory facilities, toilet facilities, a rest area and any other essentially permanent office-type installations that may be useful in association with the factory operation. The particular design of the office-laboratory barge may vary widely. The specific structural and architectural design of the barge O-L and, indeed, any of the barges is not a part of the present invention; it is well within the skill of the art appropriately to design and fit out an office-laboratory barge in an appropriate manner and with appropriate facilities for managing the factory operations, serving various needs of the personnel in the factory, carrying out any design work that might be done at the factory facility, and performing required tests, such as quality control tests on the raw materials and products and the like.

2. A cement batching and mixing barge CB fitted out with batching and mixing plants for producing the concrete mixes utilized in the fabrication of the building elements. Generally, the batching and mixing apparatus will be located above the deck of the batchingmixing barge so that, as will be described in more detail below, the mixed cement may be delivered to on-deck carrier vehicles for transport to the concrete-pouring facilities of the factory. The concrete batching-mixing barge CB may also have roof-mounted conveyor equipment for distributing raw materials to the individual mixing units. As illustrated, three mixing units are desirable, both from the point of view of providing a sufficient capacity to serve the factory and of permitting the production of different concrete types or compositions for various building elements being fabricated in the factory.

3. Two pouring barges, designated by the reference letters IP, fitted with forms mounted vertically in batteries extending down into the barge holds and set up to be poured from generally the deck level. The pouring barges IP, as well as the two other pairs of pouring barges described immediately below, are described in more detail hereinafter.

4. Two exterior panel pouring barges EP having either pouring batteries in the hold equipped with vertically oriented forms or on-deck horizontal forms.

5. A finishing barge, which may simply be a plain deck barge with a minimum of equipment that is employed in providing any final finish work on the building elements.

6. Two deck pouring barges DP having horizontal forms for making the deck or floor elements for a building.

7. Two steel fabricating barges SF where reinforcing steel work is constructed and where any other special fabrication, such as stairs, window frames, door bucks and the like are fabricated. These barges can also be used for form building and form cleaning.

8. A power supply barge PS equipped with any prime power supply elements, such as electrical generators, boilers, heating equipment, water pumping equipment, air compressors and similar types of equipment. Much of the equipment on the power supply barge may be built into the hold of the barge, leaving some or all of the deck of the barge clear for other purposes, such as the storage of materials used on the fabricating barges SF, product-finishing operations or fabricating forms, steel work, or special components.

In some factory installations, some of the units of the flotilla illustrated in FIG. 1, for example, may not be required. If electrical power is available at nearby sources on land, and can conveniently and economically be conducted to the barge, then the power supply barge might not be used or will not have generating equipment. One or more of the pouring barges might not be required in some building projects.

On the other hand, additional barges, such as the steam-curing barges that are described below, may be added to the flotilla. The number of barges employed in any of the factory operations may, of course, be increased or decreased. Even more generally, one of the advantages of the invention is the capability of tailorfitting the barge flotilla to a particular production operation. The basic barges provide the factory site, but the manner in which the individual barges are fitted out and used can readily be altered to fulfill the needs of a particular project.

Still referring to FIG. 1 of the drawings, one appropriate arrangement for a factory is a simple, rectangular arrangement in which all of the barges are placed together side-by-side in a row. Concrete batching and mixing takes place on the barge CB which is located near one end of the flotilla; fabrication of the steel reinforcing and other fabricating operations are carried on on the fabricating barges SF located near the other end of the barge. The service barges, namely the officelaboratory barge O-L and the power supply barge PS, are located at the extreme ends of the flotilla. The pouring barges and the finish barge F occupy the center region, the finish barge being located between groups of the pouring barges so that the products may be brought from the pouring barges to the finish barge, appropriately finished, and then taken off the finish barge for storage.

FIGS. 2 to 4 of the drawings are substantially selfexplanatory, except for a few points that are discussed below. Accordingly, there is no need to describe in detail the specific arrangements of FIGS. 2 to 4 other than to point out that the arrangements in FIGS. 2 to 4 are merely exemplary of a wide variety of geometric arrangements into which the flotilla can be assembled and by which the flotilla can readily be made to accommodate to a particular water site. On this point, it will generally be desirable for the factory to be located in relatively quiet water, say in a bay, inlet, river or other location where wave action is unlikely to be a problem. In general, the factory would not be placed in an open ocean site. When the water site for the factory is located in a body of water that is likely to be subject to significant water action,such as that resulting from natural windblown waves, ocean waves that affect the site, or the wash from marine traffic, the arrangement illustrated in FIG. 2 and described in more detail below, which involves driving pilings around the perimeter of the factory and building a bulkhead, which might simply be of corrugated sheet steel strung between the pi]- ings, is desirable to provide protection from direct wave action.

The individual barges of the flotilla are assembled into a factory area by connecting the barges to each other, preferably in a manner that allows relative movement of the barges under the effects of wave action, wind loads, the transfer of live loads or any other influence tending to create relative movement. Each barge of the flotilla will have a ballasting system of any appropriate type, many of which are well-knwon to those skilled in the art, that permits the barge to be leveled and to be raised or lowered in the water to place the deck at the same level as the decks of all other barges in the flotilla. In some cases, the barges will be designed and built to ride with their decks at the same level with a minimum of ballasting. The masses of the barges and the way in which they are interconnected establishes, inherently, a relatively stable, continuous, level work area.

FIGS. 7, 8 and 11 of the drawings illustrate an appropriate way of lashing the barges to each other in a manner allowing relative movement but providing controlled restraint against such relative movement. At each intersection between the ends or sides, the barges of the flotilla are joined together by cables, ordinarily conventional steel cables. Each of the barges is provided with at least one tension winch (and usually two or more), each of which is designated by the reference numeral 10, that maintains a controlled amount of tension in a cable tied off to the winch. Each of the barges also has a number of so-called buttons" 12 around which the cables may be wrapped or to which the cables may be tied off. The inherent elasticity and extensibility of the cables is employed in providing a controlled restraint on movement of the barges by leading lengths of cables from a tie point on one of the buttons on one barge to a button located some distance away on another barge, leading the cable around the button on the second barge and then taking it back to another button on the first barge and finally leading it back to a tension winch on the first barge. For example, in FIG. 11, a tie between the end of one barge 14 and the side of another barge 16 may be made by tying one end of a cable to a button 12a on the barge designated 14, leading the cable diagonally to a button 12d on the barge 16, taking the cable across to a button 120 opposite the button 12d and on the barge 14, leading the cable back to a button 12b on the barge 16 across from the button 12a, turning the cable around the button 12b and returning it back to the tension winch a.

The relatively great lengths of cable that extend rather closely parallel to the intersection between the abutting edges of two barges provide for a relatively large amount of extensibility in the cable so that the cable itself will give and take through its inherent elasticity and allow some relative movement between the barges. In the event that forces are generated by a tendency for relative movement between two barges that is greater than the extensibility of the cable itself will permit, the constant-tension winches release and pay out additional cable to allow additional movement.

Upon elimination of the forces tending to cause the relative movement, the constant-tension winch automatically takes up cable and draws the barges back together. The resilient interconnection between the barges thus allows relative movement of the barges, both in the horizontal plane and vertically.

For example, when a live loadv is moved from one barge to another, there is, of course, a tendency for ill some relative vertical movement between the abutting barges, the extent of which varies depending upon the amount of the load. The extent of relative movement is, however, always quite limited in view of the large size and weight of the individual barges, i.e., the live loads that are moved about are small compared to the large masses of the barges. Thus, it is primarily the large mass of the barges that restricts large relative movements under wave action, wind loads and movements of loads about the factory area. The relatively modest relative movements of the barges can be permitted but are,preferably, kept under control and in some measure restricted by the resilient tying system. For one thing, each barge fits closely to the other and because the flat sides of adjacent barges engage each other, each barge tends to gain some support from the other barges against relative movement, either vertically or horizontally due to friction forces. Rubber bumpers or pads 17 installed on the sides of the barges (see FIG. 8) between adjacent barges increase interbarge friction and also absorb shocks and eliminate the noises and wearing effects of metal-to-metal contact. The tying system shown in FIGS. 7, 8 and 11 thus unites the whole barge flotilla into an essentially stable work area, but at the same time a work area system that accommodates controlled relative movement and makes it unnecessary to provide very strong and rigid connections between the individual barges.

In relatively quiet bodies of water, the whole flotilla may simply be anchored by several anchors or tied up to pilings at appropriate locations.

In bodies of water that are more subject to relatively significant wave action, for example, relatively open bodies of water where winds may generate fairly large waves, where the wakes of relatively large vessels might produce fairly significant tendencies for rocking of the individual barges, or where ocean swells intrude, the bulkhead and additional tying system illustrated in FIG. 2 may be desirable. In FIG. 2, the entire flotilla is surrounded by pilings 18 that are relatively closely-spaced together (e.g., a distance about equal to a side of a bay of the barges) and to the outside edges of the perimeter barges. The pilings support a bulkhead system 19, which may, for example, be a relatively simple structure composed of corrugated sheet metal. The pilings also serve as tie points for a cable system 20 that is maintained under tension by the tension winches on the barges (not shown in FIG. 2). Ordinarily, one end of a length of cable is tied either to a button 12 on the barge or tied off on one of the pilings 1%. The cable is then zig-zagged between other buttons on the barge and pulleys or other turning elements on the pilings and ultimately is led back to a constant-tension winch on the barge. One of the constant-tension winches applies continuous resilient pressure tending to pull the individual barge away from the other barges. In the complete system, all of the barges are under tension from the peripheral cable-tying system. At the same time, the individual barges are tied together. In these circumstances, rubber (or similar) bumpers or mats 17 (FIG. 8) will be placed as spacers and shock-absorbers be tween the barges to allow for rocking and some relative movement, the peripheral cable tension system keeping tension in the whole system while the tying between the barges keeps the adjacent barges from pulling apart beyond the desired spacing under normal conditions. Although the peripheral bulkhead tends to maintain the bulkheaded area of the floating factory relatively quiet, swells may enter the bulkheaded area and tend to rock the barges. The resilient system of FIG. 2 permits fairly substantial rocking to occur under controlled conditions. The system damps out the rocking motions and restores the large flotilla to a stable condition relatively quickly.

Additional tying between barges to enhance work area stability in water subject to wave action by absorbing and transferring forces may be provided. For example, hydraulic-type shock-absorbers 21 can be mounted between the columns (described below) of adjacent barges, as shown in FIG. 12. Shock-absorbers installed at an angle, as shown, dampen and distribute both horizontal and vertical forces from one barge to another. Each shock-absorber is connected between columns on adjacent barges by pivot connections 22.

FIG. 2 of the drawings also illustrates some additional features of the factory. The barges designated SC are steam-curing barges that receive the newly made products from the pouring barges and the finishing barge and provide rapid curing in a high temperature, 100 percent humidity environment. The steam curing barges (SC) are described in more detail below.

The perimeter tying systems at the right and left ends of the large flotilla illustrated in FIG. 2 are slightly different in that the cables are taken perpendicularly to the barges from the pilings 18 to buttons on the batching and mixing barge CB at the left and the steamcuring barge SC at the right, and the bulkheading system is omitted. The spaces between the cable ties at the left end of the flotilla adjacent the barge CB allow supply barges containing raw materials and a crane barge to be nosed up to the barge CB for supply of materials used in the forming of the concrete. The barge designated FA is a barge brought in with a supply of fine aggregate, such as sand; the barge designated CA is loaded with stone, that is coarse aggregate, the barge designated Ce delivers cement to the factory flotilla, and the barge W is a tanker type of barge carrying water for the concrete. A crane barge Cr unloads the sand and stone and supplies it to either an appropriate conveying system associated with the batching and mixing units on the barge CB or supplies it directly to individual hoppers associated with each of those units. Water may, of course, be pumped through hoses to the mixing units, and the cement may be unloaded and supplied to the mixing units through a pneumatic conveying system, the elements of which are built into the cement batching barge CB. The embodiment of FIG. 2, as should be evident to those skilled in the art, by reason of the supply barges, the bulkhead system and the provision of steam-curing barges, is intended for a location at a water site some distance from land and likely to be subject to some wave action. The supply of raw materials for use in the factory from barges is, of course, highly economical as well as convenient in view of the on-the-water location of the factory.

Barges T nosed in between the perpendicular ties to the right may receive finished products from the curing barges and transport them to shore for use at a shore site or for trans-shipment. The transport barges T that transport the products from the factory to the shore may, of course, provide transport for a relatively long distance at low cost.

FIG. 3 of the drawings shows another configuration of the barge flotilla and requires no explanation beyond mentioning that the FIG. 3 illustrates the possibility of the flotilla being located quite close to shore and being connected to the shore by a bulk-headed landfill 24. Similarly, a floating or other form of bridge can be constructed to shore for transport of materials to the factory and finished products from the factory. As mentioned above, the same letter designations are employed in all of FIGS. 1 to 4. FIG. 3, however, shows an additional barge designated S indicative of a supply barge that brings supplies, such as reinforcing bars, to the factory. Actually, the same barges can be used to bring out supplies, temporarily store the supplies, and transport products from the factory.

FIG. 4 of the drawings illustrates another arrangement of the factory barges and supply barges and requires no explanation.

As is evident from an examination of FIGS. 1 to 4, each of the barges is of an identical horizontal size. Many of the barges, in fact, may be of identical basic construction, namely a deck barge having a hull that is of the same design in all barges with the same displacement. Differences in total displacement by reason of equipment and moving loads can be adjusted for by ballasting to provide a level work area. In some instances a different hull form may be required to accommodate particular components or to provide a deck level with the rest of the work area, notwithstanding a displacement quite different from that of the basic barge.

The perimeter of each barge, as may best be seen in FIG. 5 is set down below the main decks level and is provided with a number of buttons 12, which are usually located one on either side of each of the columns (described below) and two at each corner. Normally, the tension winches will be located at diagonally opposite corners of each barge. Each barge has an overall length that is approximately three times its overall width, and each barge is subdivided into three roughly (but not precisely) square bays by columns 30. The columns may either be integrated into the hull structure or may be installed in vertical wells and merely temporarily secured to the hull structure. In the latter case, the columns may be removed to facilitate transport of the barge, particularly when the barge must be moved in waterways that have low bridges that will not accept the barge superstructure in place. The columns 30 support main beams 32 that surround each bay, and the beams 32, in turn, support modular roof panels, as illustrated in FIG. 5. The details of the framing system and modular panels for the roof and walls are not illustrated in the drawings, inasmuch as the specific structural arrangements to be employed is a matter of design. Preferably, the roof panels have skylights 34 for illuminating the work area of the factory. The columns at the outside of the flotilla receive stringers 36 for mounting lightweight wall panels 38 which, again, preferably have windows 40. The roof and wall panels are preferably constructed in a manner that permits them to be dismantled and placed on the decks of the barges for transport and also permits the walls to be relocated after the flotilla is set up again at another site, perhaps in a different configuration. When the columns are removable, they are also removed and lashed on the decks of the barges for transport with the barges to another location. Each barge has a superstructure that is structurally independent of that of the other barges, apart from the shock-absorber system of FIG. 12. In

order to enclose the factory area flexible closure strips 42 are installed between the roofs and walls of adjacent barges; for example, rubber bellows or corrugated, resilient roof and wall bridging strips 42 may be employed. The strips 42 enable relative movement between adjacent barges while still maintaining the factory work area totally enclosed.

As illustrated in several figures of the drawings, the decks of the individual barges are bridged to adjacent barges, such as by hinged bridge plates 44. Although only single, relatively long hinged bridge plates are illustrated in the figures, each total bridge between adjacent bays of adjacent barges may actually be made up of several short bridge pieces to allow for relative lengthwise rocking of adjacent barges without disrupting the support of a bridge free end. Each bridge element 44, as may best be seen in FIG. 8, is hinged to the edge of the raised deck of one adjacent barge, preferably with a threshold 46 provided adjacent the hinge, and is freely supported on a moderately curved edge along the deck of the adjacent barge, the curvature allowing for relative movement without creating a sharp bump where the free edge of the bridge element 44 meets the deck.

The open areas illustrated in FIGS. and 6 and the arrowed lines shown in FIGS. I to 4 represent roadways or traffic aisles for transport of materials and products around the factory work area. It is, of course, essential that the factory have a material transport system, and the system presently considered to be the most practical involves the utilization of vehicles that move about on the roadways left in the work area. Preferably, the vehicles are. based on a three-wheeled chassis that has a short-turning radius so that the vehicle can be turned rather sharply at 90. One form of vehicle employed in the material handling system in the embodiments illustrated in the drawings (see FIGS. 5 and 6) is a concrete buggy 50 having a hopper 52 for receiving cement from the mixers on the cement barge CB and a conveyor 54 that can be pivoted to distribute concrete to a desired form on one of the pouring barges. A second form of vehicle is a crane 56 having a pair of movable lifting arms 58 that reach out to pick up and carry the finished building elements, assemblies of reinforcing rods and, in general, various materials and products in the factory.

Although the embodiments of the invention illustrated in the drawings have an on-the-floor material transport system, it is within the scope of the invention to use overhead traveling cranes, overhead cable carriers, or various other types of material transport systems in the factory. Inasmuch as the interconnection of the barge flotilla is, in a preferred arrangement, constructed to allow the individual barges to move relative to one another under controlled conditions, rather than rigidly resisting such movements, the on-the-floor material handling system is effective, efficient and free of the complications involved with flexible connections at the barge ends for overhead travelling cranes or cable systems. The same vehicles that transport materials and products within the factory area can also be used to transport materials and products between the factory and the land in installations in which the factory is bridged or landfilled to provide land access and to move the supplies delivered over water to the barge from supply barges and take the products to transport barges that carry them from the factory to the shore.

The versatility of the on-the-floor material handling system does, therefore, provide several advantages over other material handling systems in the barge factory.

The drawings illustrate a factory fitted out to produce modular interior wall panels, exterior wall panels and floor or deck panels. A modular building system composed of these elements is a common approach to the mass production of reinforced concrete structures. However, the particular building system to be manufactured in the factory of the invention forms no part of the present invention. Indeed, the present invention is intended to provide the versatility of permitting, by merely furnishing new molds and possibly other refittings of the individual barges, the production of a variety of types of building components on a mass production basis. In the embodiment illustrated, for example, in FIGS. 5 and 6 of the drawings, floor or deck panels 60 are poured in horizontal forms located on the decks of the pouring barge or barges DP, the forms being positioned to leave roadways for access by the transport vehicles 50 and 56. Exterior wall panels 62 are also poured in horizontal forms, also positioned to leave aisles or roadways, on the exterior wall pouring barge or barges EP. Generally, the interior wall panels are of a relatively uniform, light and simple design, allowing for standardized production techniques. Accordingly, interior wall panels 64 in the embodiment are poured in batteries 66 of forms that extend vertically down into the hold of the barge or barges IP below deck level. The forms are constructed (in a manner not shown in the drawings) that permits them to be opened and closed, thereby to facilitate removal of the panels and installation of the reinforcing steel, window frames, door backs and the like (not shown). The below-deck batteries 66 for the interior wall panels 64 enable the pouring to be done from deck level, thus adapting the pouring procedure for the panels that are poured vertically to the on-deck concrete transport system by the vehicles 50 and 56. Similarly, it facilitates removal of the wall panels 64 from the forms. Stair units and other ancillary items may also be poured in forms mounted on the deck or into the battery forms below deck level, as shown in FIG. 6.

The factory production of reinforced concrete building elements generally includes provisions for the acceleration of an initial cure and the development of sufficient early strength to permit the panels to be taken from the forms and moved after just a few hours in the forms. The forms are heated, and presses may be employed with them to accelerate the setting. For electrically heated molds, electricity may be supplied to the forms from the power supply barge. Steam heated forms may be supplied with steam produced in boilers built into the power supply barge. Hot water, hot oil or other liquids may be used to transfer heat from each form to the concrete. Appropriate vibrating equipment can be furnished on each barge, and the individual barges may be zone heated for personnel comfort and quality control by heating equipment carried on each barge. These aspects of fitting out the barges are matters that relate primarily to the available technology in the mass production of concrete elements and in plant engineering and are subject to significant variations, depending upon the particular process, end product and other requirements.

As mentioned previously, the products, upon removal from the forms, may be taken to curing facilities on land, when the factory is set up with a bridge or landfill connection to the land. For an offshore site that cannot be provided with bridge or landfill access to the shore, a rapid curing of the building elements may be achieved in steam-curing barges of the type illustrated in FIGS. 9 and 10 of the drawings. The basic structural barge may be identical to most of the other barges of the flotilla, but the superstructure of each steam-curing barge SC is subdivided into curing rooms 55. In the embodiment illustrated in FIGS. 9 and 10, the curing rooms 55 are located and constructed to leave roadways for access to the curing rooms by the cranes 56, the arrowed lines in FIG. 9 indicating the pathways for movement of the vehicles. Two relatively small steam rooms 55a are located at the extreme ends of the barge, and a large room 55b is located in the central bay of each barge SC. Boilers 74 are located in the holds of the barges SC, and the required steam distributing piping and outlets 76 are conducted throughout the barge to the rooms 55. Each room has vertically sliding, sectional doors 77. Ordinarily, there will be at least two, and possibly more, steam-curing barges SC in order to take the day-to-day production from the factory and cure it sufficiently for removal and shipment.

It should be quite apparent that the barges have considerable below-deck space for storage of materials and supplies, location of equipment, such as vibrators for the concrete, electrical apparatus, steam supply, ballasting pumps and piping, winch motors and the like to render each barge generally self-contained.

Many components of the factory are permanent installations in the individual barges, and refitting the barge flotilla to provide a factory appropriate for a desired output can usually be accomplished quickly at relatively moderate costs. The barge factory is, of course, of long life so that the initial capital expense of constructing it is amortized over a long period of time and over a number of different building projects for which it may be used. The ability to move the factory to the site, rather than transporting the products from a permanent factory to various sites in a region offer substantial economies that more than offset the cost of the barge system and the costs of refitting the system for different jobs. Thus, the invention provides a versatile and economical system of considerable value to the building industry, and particularly, to the housing needs that are ever increasing throughout the world.

The above-described embodiments of the invention are intended to be merely exemplary, and those skilled in the art will be able to make numerous variations and modifications of them without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. All such variations and modifications are intended to be included within the scope of the invention, as defined in the appended claims.

I claim:

1. A factory for the manufacture of building and similarly heavy components comprising a multiplicity of separate massive floating deck barges arranged in adjacent relation to form an essentially continuous work area, the barges being ballasted or initially built to provide a work area that is essentially level with the decks of all barges essentially in a plane, means for connecting the barges in adjacent relation to provide a generally stable working area under conditions of water motion, live load transfer between barges and the like, said connecting means including connector elements affording restrained and controlled relative movement of the barges in response to extreme forces imposed on them to preclude overstressing the barges, and to prevent damage to the products being manufactured on the barges and to the machinery used in such manufacture, a roof and exterior walls enclosing at least a part of the work area, bridges connecting the decks of at least some of the adjacent barges for movement of personnel, materials and products around the work area, and material handling means for transporting equip ment, materials and products from place to place in the work area.

2. A factory according to claim 1 wherein the barges are shaped and dimensioned as modules for arrangement in various relative relationships.

3. A factory according to claim 2 wherein each modular barge includes columns at uniform relative spacing and modular roof units interchangeable among the barges thereby to produce a self-contained roof over each barge that is structurally independent of the roofs of other barges, and further comprising flexible roof connectors bridging the spaces between the roofs of adjacent barges.

4. A factory according to claim 1 wherein the means connecting the barges is arranged for ready disconnection to permit separation of the barges and movement of the barges individually to another site.

5. A factory according to claim 1 wherein the means connecting the barges includes cables connected between the barges and tension winches normally restraining the cables while affording controlled release in response to extreme forces imposed on the cables to render the barge multiplicity a resilient system affording controlled relative movement of the barges.

6. A factory according to claim 3 wherein the cables extend between widely spaced tie points on adjacent barges to afford by virtue of the inherent resilient extensibility of the cables a resilient connection between the barges.

7. A factory according to claim 1 and further comprising spaced-apart pilings around at least a part of the perimeter of a group of the barges and spaced from the adjacent outer edges of the barges of such group nearest the pilings, cables connected from the said barges nearest the pilings to the pilings, and means tensioning the cables and normally restraining the barges from moving toward each other while affording relative movement of the barges under extreme forces tending to produce such relative movement.

8. A factory according to claim 7 and further comprising bulkhead structure between the pilings for protection of the said surrounded group of barges from wave action in the water outside the bulkhead.

9. A factory according to claim 1 wherein each bridge is hinged to one of the adjacent barges and supported freely on the other of the adjacent barges, thereby to accommodate relative movement of the barges.

10. A factory according to claim 1 and further comprising elastomeric high friction bumpers between the barges for energy absorption, load transfer and noise abatement.

11. A factory according to claim 1 and further comprising shock absorbers connected between the barges for resilient distribution of the forces generated by relative barge movements.

12. A factory-according to claim 1 wherein the' multiplicity of barges includes at least one barge equipped with an essentially permanent self-contained concrete batching plant.

13. A factory according to claim 1 wherein the multiplicity of barges includes at least one barge equipped with below deck level concrete-pouring batteries containing generally vertically oriented concrete forms adapted to be filled from approximately deck level.

14. A factory according to claim 1 wherein the multiplicity of barges includes at least one concrete-pouring barge equipped with on-deck forms for making panels in horizontal positions.

15. A factory according to claim 1 wherein the multiplicity of barges includes at least one power supply barge equipped with at least one essentially permanently installed electrical generator.

16. A factory according to claim 1 wherein the multiplicity of barges includes at least one office-laboratory barge equipped with essentially permanently installed office facilities and concrete laboratory facilities for serving the manufacturing operations.

17. A factory according to claim 1 wherein the multiplicity of barges includes at least one steam-curing barge equipped with essentially closed steam-curing rooms, and an essentially permanently installed steam generating facility that includes a steam distribution system for distributing steam to the curing rooms.

18. A factory according to claim 17 wherein the curing rooms on the steam-curing barge are constructed above the deck the steam generating means is installed below deck in the hold of the barge and wherein the curing rooms are located on opposite sides of at least one roadway located on the deck for movement of carrier vehicles that deliver the building elements to the curing rooms. I

19. A factory according to claim 1 wherein all of the barges of the multiplicity are of substantially equal size, each barge having a length approximately equal to three times its width and wherein the deck of each barge is subdivided into three generally square bays of generally equal sizes, defined by a column at the corner of each such generally square bay.

20. A factory according to claim 19 wherein at least two bays of each barge have a roadway portion that is clear of any apparatus and thereby adapted to afford travel of carrier vehicles for transporting materials and products around the work area.

21. A factory according to claim 20 wherein the roadways are located in the two longitudinally outermost square bays of each barge and are constituted by approximately the inner one half of the deck area of each of said outermost bays so that the roadway portion of each roadway on each barge lines up with a corresponding roadway on a barge that is positioned laterally adjacent to a given barge.

22. A factory according to claim 21 and further comprising transport means in the form of three-wheel transport vehicles of a type adapted for turning on short radii such that the vehicles may turn readily between alignments intersecting at about one such alignment affording pickup of materials from positions on either side of the roadways on each barge into positions essentially aligned with the roadways for transport of the materials.

23. A factory for the manufacture of building and similarly heavy components comprising a multiplicity of separate massive rectangular barges arranged in adjacent relation, the barges being ballasted or initially built to provide a work area of predetermined geometric configuration, means for connecting the barges to each other and maintaining the work area substantially stable under conditions of water motion, live load transfer between barges and other conditions while allowing restrained and controlled relative movement of the barges in response to extreme forces imposed on them topreclude overstressing or damaging the barges, or products and machinery thereon, the means connecting the barges being arranged for ready disconnection to permit separation of the barges and movement of the barges individually to another site, and a multiplicity of principal components of the factory permanently installed on each barge, the factory components on each barge being substantially independent of the factory components on the other barges such that movement of the factory from one site to another by movement of the individual barges is facilitated without substantial dismantling of the factory components.

24. A factory according to claim 23 wherein the barges are shaped and dimensioned as modules for arrangement in various relative relationships.

25. A factory according to claim 23 wherein the means connecting the barges includes cables con nected between the barges and tension winches normally restraining the cables while affording controlled release in response to extreme forces imposed on the cables such that the multiplicity of the barges as a group is a resilient system in which controlled relative movement of the barges is permitted.

26. A factory according to claim 25 wherein the cables extend between spaced-apart tie points on adjacent barges to afford by virtue of the inherent resilient extensibility of the cables a resilient connection between the barges.

27. A factory according to claim 25 wherein the major portion of the deck of each of the barges is at one level and a peripheral portion extending around the perimeter of the major portion and extending to the sides of each barge is at a' level below the major portion, wherein the connecting means is located on the peripheral portion of the deck of each barge with all components thereof below the level of the major portion, and further comprising bridges at the levels of the major portions of the decks of adjacent barges connecting the major portions and bridging the peripheral portions.

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U.S. Classification114/266
International ClassificationB63B35/44
Cooperative ClassificationB63B35/44
European ClassificationB63B35/44
Legal Events
Dec 29, 1986AS02Assignment of assignor's interest
Effective date: 19861209
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Effective date: 19861209