7 Ways Modular Vaults Beat Cast-in-Place
When constructing a vault for a bank, jeweler, sensitive records storage, or high-value inventory, there are two fundamental approaches: modular or cast-in-place.
Traditional vault design relies on cast-in-place methods, where ready-mixed concrete is transported in trucks and poured into forms that have been constructed on the job site.
Modular vaults are built with precast concrete panels, relying on lightweight, transportable pieces specially designed for secure, vault applications.
With over 35 years’ experience providing high security vaults around the world, the engineering team at International Vault Inc. has identified 7 specific areas in which modular vaults prove themselves superior to traditional cast-in-place technology.
1. Time and Job Efficiency
When using old-style cast-in-place methods, extensive forms must be built to accept the concrete pour. This activity requires significant time on-site and leaves a big foot-print, meaning access by other trades to the vault area of the facility is naturally limited.
In our experience, it can take a week to prepare the vault form on site and another week or two for the pour to be completed.
In contrast, modular vault panels are made to spec at the factory, then shipped and installed on-site. This is done in a far more expedient time frame than possible with form builds, pours, and form removal after hardening. Upon delivery, modular panels are welded into place with our crew working entirely from inside the vault space, causing little or no disruption to work under way outside the vault.
All this means the vault area is open to work by other trades at more times and for a longer period than is possible with cast-in-place.
2. Strength of Materials
Our engineers have found that modular panels can be formed with a concrete strength well over 10,000 psi*, meaning that under compression our panels can tolerate a load of over 10,000 lbs. for every square inch of surface area. For vaults cast using traditional concrete pours, a psi of 4,000 lbs. is considered very strong.
Even more astounding, our UL rated Class 1 panel is only 3 inches thick, the equivalent of 12 inches of cast-in-place concrete!
*The actual psi rating of International Vault’s panels, while significantly higher than the number provided here, is proprietary information.
3. Accuracy of Reinforcements
When a form is constructed for a concrete pour, reinforcing steel must be carefully positioned inside the form, which often means maneuvering and placing reinforcement into 10-foot-high, narrow, dark spaces. The environment itself provides natural opportunities for error, and error in vault construction means reduced security.
In modular vault construction, the panels are cast lying flat, allowing perfect access and optical review as every layer is poured. In contrast to cast-in-place, we guarantee that reinforcement spacing is proper and perfect for every panel.
4. Service Penetrations
As with any storage or workspace, vaults require electricity, heating and cooling, and security electronics. These services penetrate the vault walls, providing a natural security weakness at the point of entry. With cast-in-place vaults, those penetrations are "straight through." Take away the HVAC, for example, and you are essentially looking through a hole in the vault wall.
Modular vaults allow us to provide added security where service penetrations take place. At International Vault, we’ve developed components that allow us to engineer offset service connections. You cannot see or pass your hand through the service openings in our modular vaults. This is one more way that modular vault construction beats cast-in-place!
5. Ceiling Construction
Capping any vault with a secure ceiling is one of the most challenging parts of construction. With traditional cast-in-place, the walls must be poured and allowed to harden. Then the ceiling forms must be placed and the same time-consuming process begins again.
In modular construction, there are not one but two big advantages when it comes to ceiling placement. First, ceiling panels are delivered simultaneously with wall panels, allowing for the complete assembly process to flow smoothly and without interruption. Second, the weight load of modular ceiling panels is around half that of traditional construction, while providing all the same strength and security benefits offered by modular wall panels.
6. Flexibility of Build
With cast-in-place, once the forms go up and the concrete pour begins, any opportunity for change is almost non-existent. With modular development, you have up until the panels are in production to address last minute design issues. Even then, a change during panel fabrication, while certainly adding expense, is nowhere near the problem of tearing apart forms and poured walls at a cast-in-place worksite.
Modular development offers even more flexible options, as a build using panels can be increased in size at a later date, or even partially deconstructed and shrunk in size.
7. A Depreciable Asset
Unlike the permanent construction of cast-in-place, modular vaults are considered a depreciable asset. After all, a modular vault can be disassembled (from the inside) and rebuilt in a new location or even sold to another business.
When you consider the cost, flexibility, ease of construction, and superior security performance of modular vaults, the traditional technique of building forms and pouring concrete seems completely outmoded.
A World Leader in Modular Vault Construction
- Lightweight Vaults [Light weight construction offering world-class protection]
- MegaCrete Vaults [Slab-on-grade, heavy duty vault. Meets AA-V-2737 GSA standard]
- MacroVaults [Large scale, high-security storage. Meets AA-V-2737 GSA standards]
International Vault works with you to understand the security risks, regulatory and insurance requirements that apply to your specific installation. Then we select the appropriate UL rated and GSA approved vault panels, doors, and components that will come together to deliver the security you need in your unique situation.
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