A food-grade powder processing facility in Defiance, Ohio, recently needed to add a processing line for a critical upcoming new product launch. The project presented several challenges, which GEM Inc. was uniquely positioned to address, using the GEM Process Solutions (GPS) approach.

The GPS Design/Build advantage

The first challenge was the short timeline based on the market-driven schedule of the customer. A secondary hurdle was the plant’s limited potential for expanding its ground-floor footprint, which was restricted by site property boundaries. Upon assessing the complexity of the project, the engineering firm initially involved requested that GEM and the GPS design/build approach be brought on board.

That’s when GEM assumed the role of primary project manager. We ultimately supplied the majority of the design, engineering, and building services, completing the project on schedule and on budget within about 10 months. Self-perform services from the Rudolph Libbe Group included: masonrymechanical, civil/siteworkstructural steel erectionmachinery installationmechanical insulation and electrical.

Solving complex design, planning, and installation challenges

Using the GPS approach, GEM worked with the owner to develop a novel solution for the new line addition, where space constraints forced a vertical orientation for the building envelope. The result was a 2,500-square-foot addition, under a 60-foot ceiling — towering over the existing facility — to house this vertical production line.

This stacked, three-tiered processing line operates under a gravity-fed system. The raw material enters the line at the top and feeds downward through a middle processing stage, before making a final descent to the packaging station on the ground floor.

The specialized processing equipment was sourced from a supplier in Germany, which added another layer of complexity to the project. To meet this challenge, GEM hired an expediter to handle the logistics of coordinating the shipment, delivery, and installation of the equipment, while choreographing the activity of the jobsite personnel. At times more than 100 construction personnel worked alongside each other within this small space, without reportable injuries.

Key to Design/Build success: putting the owner’s process first

We brought not only expertise and experience to the project, but also the unique GPS approach of designing solutions tailored to the owner’s individual process requirements. GEM personnel worked closely with the owner to custom-design and engineer a production line and surrounding architecture to meet its precise processing needs. And GEM stayed on top of the project through field managers who addressed issues as they arose during construction.

The customer’s management team is convinced that the GPS approach was uniquely suited to the challenging demands of this process-driven project.

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