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Keeping Operations Going in the Winter: How This Utility Company Harnesses Trachte Preassembled Buildings to Keep Out the Elements

Wisconsin Public Service Trachte Prefabriced Building Trachte Steel Building
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Winter in the upper Midwest can be brutal, especially when arctic blizzards blow in from Canada sending temperatures well below zero. Of course, conditions are not as bad as they were for the early pioneers. People now rely on natural gas to keep their houses warm. But that only works as long as the buildings that house natural gas transmission and distribution equipment stay out the elements.

“We used to have problems with roofs leaking, poor quality windows shattering, hardware rusting, and doors that wouldn't open and close properly,” says Eric, the senior lead design technician of this utility company.

That changed about ten years ago when they switched to using Trachte pre-assembled steel buildings to securely shelter equipment

Switching to Trachte

The buildings that they had been using previously, were far from adequate. After investigating options, they decided to switch to Trachte. Several factors went into the selection. Delivery time was one factor. Depending on scheduling needs and the size of the building, it typically takes 10 to 18 weeks from the time the building is ordered until it is installed and ready for use. Price also played a part, as did flexibility in design. The main factor, however, was the quality.

“The Trachte buildings are well-insulated, they don't cut corners on the materials that go into the buildings, and structurally they are very sturdy, said Eric.” “The doors are much better than ones I have had in the past; we don't have problems with them opening and closing, and the roof and internal panels are high quality.”

Since buying the first building, they have now installed nearly two dozen, including seven added in the past year. Sizes range from 6' x 6', all the way up to 32' x 54'. Some of the buildings only require a steel exterior. However, when the buildings have to be installed in a residential area they need a more aesthetic look. Trachte offers brick, stucco and wood exteriors.

Prefabricated Steel Building Trachte Preassembled Building Prefabricated Building

Housing Everything under One Roof

While this utility company has been buying buildings from Trachte for a decade, recently it has changed the type of buildings it orders. Natural gas gate stations contain several types of equipment, each with different environmental and safety needs. These include:

  • The regulator valves themselves
  • The odorant tank. Since natural gas has no detectable smell, an odorant is added to alert people when there is a leak.
  • A boiler, to heat the gas up before is goes through the regulators (reduces the pressure) to keep the gas from freezing up the regulators.
    The SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) or RTU (Remote Terminal Unit) room which houses the computer system for monitoring the pipeline pressure and flow volume and reporting the data to headquarters.

Each of these has very specific requirements. The boiler, for example, needs lots of ventilation but is not particularly sensitive to the temperature fluctuations. The computer equipment in RTU room, on the other hand, requires environmental control. And the natural gas regulators are classified as a hazardous location due to the risk of explosion, and so need protection from potential sources of ignition such as the boiler or the computer equipment.

Normally a gate station, therefore, would house these functions in separate buildings, each designed to meet specific needs. Recently, however, Trachte began offering multi-room buildings, with each room designed for a different safety classification. This is particularly helpful when space is limited. WPS has already ordered several of these buildings.

“We have buildings with up to four or five rooms with different classifications inside one building,” said Eric. “Trachte has been very easy to work with in coming up with designs to facilitate our needs.”

Having used the Trachte buildings for ten years, Eric recommends that others do their own research to see for themselves what sets them apart.

“I would strongly suggest they go out in the field and look at the buildings; watch a site delivery, set up and construction; go to the factory and see what goes into making the buildings,” he says. “There is a lot that goes on behind the scenes to make these structures superior.”

For a complete version of this case study, please e-mail us with "Keeping Operations Going in the Winter" in the subject line. Please include your name, company name and U.S. state of operation or country.


Airport equipment
and nav-aids shelter
Cellular/ microwave site
Critical UPS and
instrumentation facility
Electrical control house
Emergency and
proprietary radio shelter
Equipment penthouse
Fiber optic hub shelter
Gas and oil application
Generator enclosure
Ground water remediation
Instrument shelter
Maintenance and
Mechanical room
(core module)
Medical equipment rooms
Metering and
instrumentation facility
Oil and gas applications
Power distribution
and drop-in module
Pump enclosure
Remote monitoring station
Skid mounted portable labs
Substation control room
Switchgear and
motor control shelter
Transportable repair
and maintenance shelter
Wind farm applications
WWTP (FRP option)

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