Automotive Building Design: Why The Automotive Industry Is Embracing Steel Frame Structures

If there’s one industry that values efficiency above all, it’s the automotive field. Due to the low margin, high volume environment that’s been established, businesses are always looking for ways to optimize and innovate their operation, so they can keep up with demand.

Whether it’s a car manufacturer trying to hit production quotas or a local body shop that needs to work quickly to stick to repair timelines, efficiency is the driving force behind automobile manufacturing and maintenance. With competition only growing, these businesses require more than just the standard automotive building to maintain success.

Subsequently, the industry has seen a dramatic shift in recent years, with many operations moving away from conventional building styles in favor of steel frame structures. A prime example is Tesla, which back in 2018, constructed a 150’W by 900’L fabric truss building to house their newest assembly line.

As businesses throughout the automotive industry are finding out, steel frame structures offer a superior solution for operations of any kind. Not only can they be customized around each business’s unique requirements, but they also offer faster construction timelines and reduced operating costs over time, while still providing the safe, protected work environment mechanics and car manufacturers depend on.


From manufacturing plants to body shops, mechanic garages and more, the automotive industry is made up of a wide variety of businesses. This means that the requirements for a structure are often vastly different, and since steel frame structures can be completely customized, it’s only natural that so many operations are embracing them for their automotive building.

During the design process, customization begins with the frame itself. Operations can choose between a truss frame or I-beam frame, depending on which one best suits their application.

These frames allow an automotive building to be constructed to just about any size and ensure the maximum amount of usable square feet. Therefore, businesses on every scale are sure to get the space they need to increase productivity, no matter which frame they decide to go with.

Steel frames also take advantage of modular construction, which enables them to be completed far quicker than traditional buildings, as well as be expanded upon infinitely in length at any point in time. By getting their automotive building manufactured, delivered and assembled in a matter of weeks, businesses can start using their workspace as soon as possible and get ahead of the competition.

Fabric automotive building with open bays in the side

As for future expansion, this not only helps manufacturers keep up with their production quotas, but it also provides smaller shops and garages with a cost-effective way to scale their business. In many cases, these operations may not need a huge workspace at first, but as their business grows, modular construction ensures they can quickly get the space they need to accommodate a larger customer base.

After selecting and sizing their frame, operations are able to equip it with their choice of fabric or metal cladding. At ClearSpan, fabric covers are made from either rip-stop polyethylene or heavy-duty PVC vinyl, producing a cost-effective, yet dependable cladding solution. ClearSpan’s metal cladding comes in R-panel, Ag-panel and standing seam roof panels, or if precision climate control is required, businesses can also outfit their structure with insulated metal panels (IMPs).

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In addition to boosting productivity, steel frame structures make it easier for operations to reduce overhead and improve their bottom line. This is accomplished primarily through energy-efficiency, which stems from the many cladding options available to them.

ClearSpan’s fabric cladding allows natural light to filter through and flood an automotive building’s interior, decreasing the need for artificial light fixtures during the daytime. This cladding is also climate-sensitive, so operations are able to keep their workspace naturally cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter, reducing their dependency on costly HVAC systems.

As an added benefit, these covers promote natural ventilation. This feature is especially valuable for the automotive industry, as it helps disperse noxious fumes and air pollutants to create a safer, healthier working environment for personnel utilizing the space.

If businesses opt for metal cladding on their automotive building, they can take advantage of exceptional R-values and improved thermal efficiency to limit energy costs. When equipped with insulation, metal buildings do a great job of maintaining interior temperatures year-round, promoting energy savings and alleviating the workload on HVAC equipment. Along with lower utility bills, this helps give those climate control systems a longer lifespan and mitigates expenses related to maintenance and upkeep.

Metal automotive building with cars parked outside

Metal roofing systems can help operations improve energy-efficiency through solar reflectivity and emissivity. Solar reflectivity refers to a metal panel’s ability to reflect sunlight and is the most important feature for metal roofing in terms of energy savings. With the right finish, metal cladding will reflect the sun’s rays, letting operations avoid solar heat gain and run their air conditioning units for shorter durations amidst hotter temperatures.

Similarly, emissivity is a metal panel’s ability to release absorbed heat. On an automotive building, metal with a low emissivity rating will retain heat and may be more desirable for a cooler climate, while metal with a high emissivity rating will reflect heat and promote greater energy savings in warmer regions.


When it comes to automotive production and repair, keeping vehicles and personnel protected is a top priority. To operate efficiently and avoid vehicle damage or workplace accidents, these businesses need their automotive building to keep them shielded from the elements year-round, as well as create a safer work environment.

Whether operations equip their automotive building with fabric or metal cladding, a steel frame structure will supply them with the utmost protection. ClearSpan’s fabric covers are designed to ensure remarkable strength, especially under tension, which leads to a cladding solution that’s capable of withstanding high winds, heavy snow loads and is backed by a warranty of up to 30 years.

ClearSpan’s metal cladding is constructed from only the highest-quality steel and offers dependable coverage in even the harshest climates. Regardless of which panel style operations choose, metal cladding will provide their structure with a weather-tight seal that keeps vehicles, equipment and employees safe through any weather event.

Interior of metal automotive building with a parked rv and van

It’s important to note that steel frame structures can also be outfitted with any accessory needed to enhance workplace protection and meet safety standards, including fire suppression systems, alarm systems, mechanical ventilation and more. Additionally, the spacious interiors created by steel framing means shops and garages can work on cars safely, and manufacturing plants have all the room they need to operate potentially hazardous equipment, like heavy-duty cranes for material handling and CNC (Computer Numerical Control) machines.

As the automotive industry becomes more advanced and increasingly fast-paced, operations need a structure that allows them to stay ahead of the competition. By acquiring a steel frame automotive building, businesses can end up with a structure that’s tailored to their exact needs, helping them increase efficiency and meet consumer demands.

To start designing your operation’s automotive building, call or Request a Quote today.

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