2.1-million square foot manufacturing facility completed in only 12 months
First Solar selected Rudolph Libbe Inc. in April 2021 as the design-builder of a 2.1-million-square foot manufacturing facility in Lake Township, Ohio, on the strength of its success in building a facility for the client in 2019. Rudolph Libbe was asked to accelerate the schedule on the new facility (internal name PGT-03) and meet a 12-month duration to turn over the site for equipment setting. This project – nearly double the size and production capacity of the 2019 project – was also built while the COVID-19 epidemic was negatively affecting supply chain capacity.
Rudolph Libbe met the challenge: The new facility now produces First Solar’s advanced technology Series 6 thin film photovoltaic (PV) module and increased its U.S. capacity by 100% while adding 450 jobs.
Rudolph Libbe Group trades workers worked the majority of the nearly 750,000 man-hours on the project. Rudolph Libbe Inc. self-performed sitework, site concrete, site utilities, building foundations, concrete slabs and masonry. GEM Inc., another RLG company, performed building plumbing, HVAC, building electrical, central utility building electrical, process mechanical and substation electrical work, and equipment setting.
Rudolph Libbe Properties, another RLG company, used SiteLine™, its proprietary property services program, to negotiate incentives with state and local government bodies, including funding for road improvements and utility extensions to the 250-acre site.
This project utilized off site pre-fabrication of many of the mechanical components to facilitate the accelerated schedule. The COVID-19 pandemic presented many challenges on how Rudolph Libbe would acquire its materials and equipment. Substitute materials and mock-ups of equipment were used to meet the fast-track schedule. Safety was planned into every aspect of the project.
The success of this project convinced First Solar to use Rudolph Libbe as design-builder for three more large manufacturing facility projects, one in Ohio, another in Alabama and a third in Louisiana.