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Building emergency hospital wards for COVID-19 outbreak

Building emergency hospital wards for COVID-19 outbreak

Roberts Manufacturing has been using its Protec® roofing systems to make roofs for several emergency hospital wards in the United Kingdom. These hospitals were built by NHS for the treatment of a larger number of anticipated patients as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. A key component of the roofing system is a resin from AOC, bringing durability and a great application versatility.

With the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic, the British National Health Service (NHS) wanted to be prepared to treat a large number of potential patients in the United Kingdom. For that reason, the NHS has commissioned the building of several emergency hospital wards around the country in recent months, with the right capacity and infrastructure.


Tough requirements

Although the wards are not intended to be used long past the COVID-19 crisis, the buildings have been designed to have a 20-25 year life expectancy and they must deliver a high quality of protection for patients. At the same time, safety of medical personnel must be safeguarded. Consequently, the requirements for building integrity and dimensional stability of these emergency hospital wards are very high.

To enable their rapid construction many of these wards are built from prefabricated units, which are combined at the construction site into a larger building. The roof of these hospitals must be durable, water-tight and able to seal the joints between the building’s modules. As the construction is done in a relatively short period of time, the application of roofing layers has to be done “just-in-time” by specialists who use the right materials.

Building emergency hospital wards for COVID-19 outbreak

Quality roofing system

Roberts Manufacturing has a track record spanning over 35 years of supplying roofing solutions for a variety of end-use applications through its Polyroof brand. Its Protec® roofing systems have been successfully used for a large number of commercial projects.

The Protec® roofing system was ideal for these emergency works for many reasons. Being a cold-applied liquid roofing system, there are no open-flame techniques associated with the installation of traditional roll-applied flat roof systems. This means the risk of accidental fire or injury resulting from hot works are eliminated, which is of critical importance when working on hospitals and other sensitive locations.

The pre-fabricated nature of the wards lends itself extremely well to a liquid roofing system. The many joints between the modules are able to be sealed to create a homogenous waterproof membrane with no laps, welds or weak points between the numerous roof sections. Due to the Protec system’s inherent flexibility, the structural expansion and contraction movements across the 1,300m2 roof area provide no issues to the integrity of the membrane.

Another key feature is the rapid installation times afforded by the unique polymer-modified technology. The roofing system is able to cure from a liquid to a robust membrane in under 1 hour, meaning the off-site waterproofing of the modules and the in-situ jointing works can be completed with unrivalled speed.   


Joint development

The Protec® roofing systems have been developed in close collaboration with AOC. The Synolite™ resin used for this application is a key constituent of the system’s complex formulation, offering great inherent ductility and easy on-site application.

Our collaboration with AOC, which we have been enjoying for many years, has proven to be highly successful on many levels.”, mentions David Roberts, Managing Director of Roberts Manufacturing. “They developed a resin for us that enables our liquid-applied roofing system to enjoy the ideal combination of properties, including flexibility, toughness, speed of installation and long-term weathering performance. I can fully trust this essential raw material product because I know that it is manufactured with great consistency.”


On-time delivery

As the COVID-19 outbreak spread in Europe at a very fast rate, the decision for the NHS to build the emergency hospital wards was made quickly. This left Roberts Manufacturing very little time to source its raw materials and be properly prepared for the demands of these projects.

We were heavily relying on AOC to deliver the goods in a short period time,” adds David Roberts. “But they did great! Despite a challenging production planning related to COVID-19, the product was made with priority and effectively transported to us, in spite of all the heavy cross-border formalities in place at the momentThis effort by AOC ultimately proved a key factor in the ability of the NHS to deliver these emergency wards on time.

Building emergency hospital wards for COVID-19 outbreak

Healthy outlook

Roberts Manufacturing has already waterproofed several emergency hospital wards in the United Kingdom, with some additional ones in the pipeline. The availability of these hospital wards should greatly contribute to treating patients and beating the disease.

Together with AOC, Roberts Manufacturing has also been working on the development of styrene-free roofing solutions. While providing the same durability as conventional systems, this novel technology can be applied with minimal odor and disturbance for nearby residents.


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