Gamewell Mechanical and SEMCO Rises to the Challenge of Demanding Pharmaceutical Project

  • Tuesday, March 1, 2011

    Like all large pharmaceutical construction projects, the new Novartis manufacturing facility for the pandemic flu vaccine in Holly Springs, NC involved a tremendous volume of paperwork that Gamewell
    & SEMCO had to provide to Novartis to submit to the FDA for final validation of the facility, along with extra quality assurance measures. Combine that with the coordination of any large sheet metal duct project and you begin to understand why pharmaceutical work is such a niche business.

    It pays to have a specialty, particularly in a tough economy.   Gamewell  Mechanical  Inc., based  in Salisbury, North Carolina,  has been serving the highly specialized pharmaceutical industry  for  over 30 years,  as  well  as other advanced technology facilities.    According to the company’s president, Mike Heilig,

     

     

    Novartis vaccines virus purification

    Gamewell started doing pharmaceutical “before pharmaceutical got hard,” meaning that  his  company entered pharmaceutical construction before the  regulations  became so  complex.    As  such, the company has evolved along with the industry and its increasingly stringent construction requirements.
    The new Novartis manufacturing facility for the pandemic flu vaccine in Holly Springs,  NC is one of those  projects that have helped sustain Gamewell through these tough economic times.  Like all large pharmaceutical construction projects, the job involved a tremendous volume of paperwork that Gamewell had to provide to Novartis  to submit to the FDA for final validation of the facility, along with extra quality assurance measures.  Combine that with the coordination of any large sheet metal duct project and you begin to understand why pharmaceutical work is such a niche business.  However difficult, it has allowed Gamewell to acquire a set of skills that keeps them competitive

    Reliability Beats Low Bids

    Mike Heilig knows that getting the job is only the first step  toward making a profit.   The sheet  metal

     

    Precision cut custom length spiral pipe.

     

    business can be particularly unforgiving when project delays cause unanticipated increases in labor and storage costs.   These costs can quickly shatter any potential profit a contractor expects to obtain by accepting the lowest bid from a duct supplier.    Herman Henson, Gamewell Superintendent for the Novartis project, is well aware of this, which is why he insisted  on SEMCO as the duct supplier  for the Novartis project, even though there were lower bids.

    “I knew what we needed for that project,” said Henson, a 35- year veteran in the mechanical contracting business. “It was going to have to be a drawing-by-drawing shipment with very complex scheduling.  In the past, SEMCO has always done a good job with jobs like that.”

    According to Henson, a delay in delivery can have a very costly domino effect on a job like Novartis.  If duct doesn’t arrive on time then that holds up other subcontractor work – and Gamewell could be held liable for the extra labor cost incurred by these other subs.   From  the standpoint of Gamewell’s own labor,  a missed delivery could mean relocating over a hundred workers to another jobsite, losing a half-day or more of labor.  It’s a scenario that most contractors have experienced at one time or another and one that all want to avoid.

     
     

    All duct & fittings shipped wrapped and protected.

    Making It Work
    Novartis was a complex duct job with multiple systems, and duct sizes, and pressure classes – plus all of the certification requirements  for welds and materials  that are typical of pharmaceutical work.  There simply was no room for error – certainly not in terms of delivery.   Jason Lyons, project manager for SEMCO, recalled the challenges supplying the Novartis project.

    “The initial schedule for the Novartis project, approximately

    5 months from start to completion for the ductwork, seemed to be on the edge of physical impossibility. Midway through the project, the onsite material storage area was exhausted, but Gamewell and SEMCO knew that in order to meet the aggressive schedule, production and shipment had to continue,” said Lyons.

     

    CAD drawing  showing  the 5 different systems needed.

     

    To make this  happen,  SEMCO  worked closely with their carriers to keep material flowing out of the shop and into trailers, while sitting on select loads in order to allow Gamewell to get material hung and make way for new.  In the end, 96% of the material was shipped in a 4-month period – spanning most of the allotted installation time.

    Without time or space for storage, SEMCO’s take-off-to- build department detailed the plans to exact measurements and provided custom length pipe sections between fittings to ensure that all taps, transitions, and changes in direction were located spot-on without the need for time consuming field  adjustments.    Furthermore,  SEMCO  provided full-

    bodied fittings in lieu of field installed loose taps, and where beneficial,  fittings  were customized  to eliminate as many field joints as possible  in an effort to save Gamewell  field labor.
    “SEMCO was very effective at helping us avoid storage and shipment issues, even though we changed up the schedule many times on them,” said Randy Johnson, Gamewell Project Manager on the Novartis project. “They made me glad I used them.  I don’t think we would have gotten the same service from other suppliers.”

    On projects like these, timing is everything.   Gamewell Mechanical  has cultivated a reputation for reliable service in demanding pharmaceutical  projects—a  reputation the company isn’t willing to risk on a low bid supplier who can’t help them rise to the challenge.