More than Manufacturing
“The Iris Manufacturing Facility will serve as a magnet to bring in foreign direct investments, other businesses and more jobs to Surprise. All of this was made possible through Balfour Beatty’s rigorous efforts to meet an eight-month, fast-track schedule that allowed the project to finish the same day production could begin.”
--Sharon Wolcott, Mayor, Surprise, Arizona
IRIS USA, Inc., a subsidiary of IRIS Ohyama of Sendai, Japan and leading international manufacturer of high quality plastic storage products, selected a 32-acre site in Surprise, Arizona to build its new 447,000-square-foot manufacturing and distribution facility used to produce plastic injection molded products. The project site is located within Surprise’s Southwest Railplex Industrial District – a designated Foreign-Trade Zone with convenient rail access. IRIS USA’s $40-plus-million investment will not only help to grow the local economy with the creation of 100 new jobs, but it will also benefit the city of Surprise with an influx of new revenue by the end of the first year of operations.
The massive project features 11-inch thick concrete tilt panel external walls that top out at 56 feet high; a 300,000-square-foot warehouse space with a 40-foot clear height, 21 dock positions, a 30,000-square-foot manufacturing mezzanine; and a production area with forty injection mold machines with room for an additional 13 machines. The office area totals a spacious 52,550 square feet and contains offices, conference rooms, training rooms, breakrooms, a test kitchen and various gathering spaces.
The project involved many unique designs, among them were the elements to deliver the raw plastic production materials. Raw material deliveries are accomplished by the installation of a double rail spur used to unload rail cars of raw plastic materials into six, 60-foot tall storage silos located directly adjacent to the building. A vacuum conveying system was installed to deliver the raw plastic pellets from the storage silos to the manufacturing area. Three overhead bridge cranes were also installed in the production area to relocate the injection mold machines when needed for varying production runs and servicing.
Early is on Time
As the contractor selected to build a Western United States regional headquarters for IRIS, Balfour Beatty’s project team was well aware of one of the most significant challenges—to deliver a world-class facility in record time.
The client was faced with product delivery deadlines that required the entire project be up and running in a short eight months. Delivering this project on a fast-track schedule was the project team’s top priority. The team knew that manufacturing needed to start the very same day as the project was scheduled to complete. To overcome the challenge, a coordinated, collaborated effort was developed to avoid wasting a single moment.
From the owner, architect and engineer to the subcontractors and trade partners, every team member pitched in to develop innovative solutions and reach consensus. This highly complex effort flourished during regular coordination meetings that ensured the smooth delivery of all aspects of the job, including production, office and warehouse space as well as the exterior build-out.
For example, production tools were being installed at the same time construction build-out was finishing by implementing a simultaneous, dual track schedule. In addition, the delivery coordination for the machinery was expertly navigated. Forty injection mold machines were shipped from Japan in 61 individual crates—each weighing between 11 and 45 tons. The crates were unloaded and sorted onsite and then assembled in the construction zone. Each machine required power, process water and compressed air connections. The construction teams were able to accomplish all the hook ups and commissioning in less than eight weeks—all while construction was occurring throughout the space.
The injection mold machines and various pieces of owner furnished equipment were procured from Japan, and as such, specifications were based in metric system of measurements. Conversions to the English measurement system were accomplished by the design team in full partnership with the Balfour Beatty team, subcontractors and the owner’s teams. This collaboration and expedited conversion was critical in the fast-track schedule environment of the project.
At the same time the mold machines were being installed, an incredibly complex storage rack system was also being installed in the warehouse area. A schedule strategy was developed and implemented with phenomenal results—the rack installation process was completed nearly two months early.
Exchanging Blueprints for Thumbprints
This was a nearly paperless project. Utilizing the most current technologies available, Balfour Beatty’s team ensured all field personnel were issued electronic tablets. With a simple touch, they could view the most current construction plans, shop drawings, Requests for Information (RFI’s), responses to RFIs as well as general correspondence. In addition, information was available at exact locations of observations or questions. As a result, no time was lost walking from the site to the trailer, plus the tablets eliminated the need to carry around large sets of documents. Each evening, the project engineer updated and synced all information to the tablets for use the next day—the most current information was always available with at the touch of a fingertip. The tablets were also used for taking pictures in order to document conditions or send questions to our design partners. This resulted in real-time coordination and resolution of any field condition requiring attention. The use of this singular piece of technology resulted in a more efficient jobsite, shorter response times to questions and a significant reduction—or nearly elimination—of plan reproduction costs.
Going Green to Save Green
The desert can be a harsh and unforgiving environment as well as incredibly expensive location in which to operate a manufacturing plant. To mitigate these issues, the project incorporated many sustainable elements which also reduced operating costs. Examples include LED lighting throughout the facility; a cooling system that uses a combination of highly efficient evaporative cooling units and large, high volume/low velocity ceiling fans; as well as a white reflective roofing material and significant roof insulation. In addition, landscaping incorporates low water-use vegetation and decomposed granite surface covering in lieu of water dependent turf.
The project serves as an outstanding model of collaboration. The results prove what a dedicated team of professionals can accomplish when faced with nearly impossible timeframes. Everyone simply rolled-up their sleeves, exhibiting tremendous patience and perseverance, until they achieved the goal of ensuring IRIS USA could begin producing their products on the day of completion. There were enormous challenges, but the successful outcome is a solid testament of this incredible team’s effort.