Development of a mobile storage unit (MSU) for humanitarian purposes

  • T.J. Kuijpers

Student thesis: Master


A mobile storage unit (MSU) is generally deployed in an emergency situation. Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) use these tent structures for temporary storage of food and non-food items during the relief and recovery phase of the emergency situation. However, according to these NGOs, the currently used MSUs do not meet the technical and functional requirements. The complexity of their structure causes assembly, transport and packaging problems. The MSU cannot be deployed on rocky and/or unlevelled surfaces, which limits the range of deployment areas. Assembly in height is necessary to connect the structural members of the main structure, which may result in unsafe situations. Sometimes the MSU is used for other purposes than storage, but the currently used MSUs do not provide the option to add secondary structures. The objective of this thesis is to design a new MSU which is an improvement of the currently used models. A morphological method which contains all parameters related to the problems is applied to design a final concept. First, multiple concepts are roughly generated, based on the requirements posed by the boundary conditions derived from a literature study. The most potentially suited concepts are selected and roughly analysed against the boundary conditions. On the selected concepts, the folding portal and the erection method of the cable structures are assessed, as the features with the highest potential to affect the erection of the MSU to be designed. These features form the basic concept for further engineering. The MSU has to withstand wind speeds of 20 m/s and 31 m/s. One model is designed in variants for two wind speeds, MSU20 and MSU31. Both are largely identical, but differ much in transport requirements and weight. The MSU20 takes half as much space as the MSU31. The geometry of the final design shows strong similarities with the currently used MSUs. All are portal structures with a saddle-shaped roof. The main differences between the MSUs are in the structure, assembly, erection, transport requirements and functionality. The main structure is prefabricated and modular, therefore fewer actions are required to assemble the MSU, and also less time. The use of a cable structure allows to assemble and erect the MSU from ground level. This enlarges the deployment range of the MSU to rocky ground as well as unlevelled surfaces. The dimensions of the MSU packages are reduced, making it possible to transport the MSUs transversally in a 20-ft sea container. At the cross-section, extra channels ensure that add-ons, such as inner-walls, overhangs and shade nets can be fitted. A large part of this study was dedicated to the erection method of the MSU. The final method is determined, but the hand winch should be further optimised and tested to improve its performance. In conclusion, compared to the currently used MSUs, the newly designed MSU is a safer, faster to assemble, less complex, and more largely deployable concept in terms of structure. In terms of transport, the packages are more efficient. The structure is designed to accommodate add-ons.
Date of Award30 Nov 2014
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorJ.J.N. Lichtenberg (Supervisor 1), R. Gijsbers (Supervisor 2) & T.C.A. de Haas (Supervisor 2)

Cite this