The LANXESS high-performance materials compounding plant in Gastonia, North Carolina, USA is the perfect platform for premium plastics. Not only does this high-tech extrusion facility strategically place LANXESS, a Germany-based specialty chemicals company, near U.S. automotive manufacturers, which make up the world’s largest high-tech plastics market, but it also serves as a model for the efficient implementation of a new manufacturing plant. Using the engineer-procure-construct (EPC) approach, CDM Smith designed and built the facility through a highly collaborative effort that accommodated unique technological and architectural constraints while delivering the project safely, on time and within budget.
Living on the Fast-Track
Central to the 20,000 tons per year compounding plant is the 4,000 m², two-story production, administration and laboratory building, which houses two advanced extrusion process trains. The 3.6 ha site also includes a 930 m² high-density raw materials storage warehouse, loading and unloading facility, as well as large raw material and finished product silos. Providing the project’s engineering and permitting, including civil, structural, mechanical and electrical detailed design was complex enough. However, LANXESS also had a non-negotiable 9-month schedule for construction completion—driven by several public relations events planned around the plant’s fixed grand opening date. “It was critical to build this plant as quickly as possible,” states Bryan Hug, LANXESS facility manager. “Design-build allowed us to meet our objectives—budget, schedule, capacity, and plant operations and reliability.”
To be highly responsive and flexible, CDM Smith project engineers, constructors and the owner’s project manager met daily for the project’s first 3 weeks. And, for the next 4 months, daily team calls were held to discuss design and construction issues and scheduling. To help meet the aggressive schedule, multiple bid and procurement packages were negotiated with the city, including an initial site package that allowed construction to begin prior to final design, a steel building and envelope package for the receipt and immediate placement of LANXESS’ direct-purchased production equipment, and a final interior fit-up package. Two staggered 10-hour shifts per day, for 6 or 7 days per week, allowed trade workers to efficiently complete construction within the same space and to meet the project deadline.