From Concept to Completion, Balfour Beatty Delivers Custom Building Solutions
Imagine a structure that has been built to withstand a category four hurricane that also houses a freezer more than half the length of a football field and more than twice as tall as a Tyrannosaurus Rex. Add to that freezer a fully-automated crane system that allows a robot to pick up and drop off soon-to-be-ice-cold contents anywhere on its floor-to-ceiling racks.
That’s exactly what our Carolinas team was tasked to create when Balfour Beatty was awarded the CM at-Risk contract to build a $28 million lab and blood plasma storage facility for Octapharma Plasma Inc., one of the leading human plasma collectors in the world.
This facility was the first of its kind for Octapharma, and because the owner had no experience planning such a facility, they relied upon Balfour Beatty as their trusted advisor to steer key decisions regarding critical system building components.
One of the project’s most challenging components was a 12,450-square-foot freezer that stores over $200 million of plasma on a fully automated rack and crane system. The freezer was designed and constructed to operate at a temperature of -35° Fahrenheit. In order to prevent the slab from freezing, the team had to install a 40-inch, four layer, flexible under-slab glycol piping system that keeps the foundation warm at all times.
Due to the $200 million price tag on the plasma, the ability to keep the temperature at -35 degrees with zero downtime was critical. The team determined that in the event of a power outage, there needed to be more than one incoming power feed and more than one generator for back-up reliability. In the end, the team installed two 25-foot, 1,000-kilowatt Caterpillar generators mounted atop five-foot belly tanks with 6,000 gallon capacities. This N+1 system allows for independent power for seven days in the event of a crisis or complication.
Speaking of complications, this project team faced a few. Construction started one month later than contractually specified due to neighboring land negotiations. Additionally, before the client could begin utilizing their lab or plasma processing and storage areas, they had to undergo a year-long FDA approval process. With the lengthy FDA processes looming, the client needed us to deliver even sooner. By reorganizing manpower, prioritizing equipment and materials, as well as harnessing the power of several lean construction methods like offsite manufacturing, pull planning, and laser scanning, we were able to meet the client’s goal – shaving an impressive 45 days off the original estimated date of completion. The client calculated that this early turnover resulted in a savings of roughly $1.6 million.
If that doesn’t sound impressive enough for you, the project encountered significant weather delays due to snow and one of the rainiest winter seasons North Carolina has had on record. To mitigate the weather issues, the team tented the building to provide temporary heat for the concrete pour and used propane heaters to keep the area’s ambient temperature sufficient for curing. All in all, the project incurred a total of 20 weather delay days. The owner accepted nine of those, but the early completion date for phase one did not change. The team absorbed the delay by working 12-hour days, seven days a week for almost the entire duration of the project.
When it came to the building’s 24,410-square-foot lab, there would be a few extra unforeseen obstacles. Before the lab was fully complete, the owner needed to provide their associates with access to kick-start a number of critical business activities. Without a TCO, this, of course was impossible. Initially the inspectors were reluctant to allow our team to stagger the inspections process, but Balfour Beatty ultimately proposed such a thorough plan that the City of Charlotte allowed our team to proceed, thereby preventing the owner from suffering any scheduling setbacks.
You don’t just have to take our word for how awesome this team is. Alice Stewart, senior director of supply chain for Octapharma, had this to say on behalf of the client: “The entire Balfour Beatty team, from preconstruction through construction, exemplified commitment, dedication, and professionalism. It was our pleasure to work with such a great group of people to bring Octapharma’s dream to reality.”
That’s the difference a true trusted advisor can make.