Building a new facility – from concept to completion

Plant building and design – just like lean manufacturing, automation, and food safety – is critically important for food and beverage makers. Having a well-designed, well-functioning manufacturing plant can be paramount to the success or failure of a venture.
“When a business is looking to either construct a new facility or upgrade an existing one, it needs to find a good builder,” said to Rob Blythman, general manager – Engineering Construction Group at Total Construction (Total). “On top of that, it is important they find someone who is willing and able to work closely with them in the very early stages of any project.”
Total Construction likes to become part of the client’s project team as early as possible, and not be just be a supplier of services.
“We prides ourselves on the value add we can provide to the client, not only do we conduct construction and fit out services, we can provide full design and process engineering services to ensure the finished facility provides maximum efficiencies and yet minimise capital expenditure on building works,” said Blythman.
Who is Total Construction?
Total Constructions was established in 1995 by current directors Steve Taylor and Bill Franks. The company has grown to the point that it now has offices in NSW, VIC and QLD, employs up to 130 staff, and has an annual turnover in excess of $180 million.
The food and beverage sector accounts for about 20 per cent of the company’s work. Apart from this, it also operates in the aged care, hospital, industrial, manufacturing, renewable energy, and education sectors.
The company has extensive expertise in delivering food and beverage projects throughout Australia. Its capabilities in the industry include cost planning, design, construction, and fit-out.
One of its key assets is said in its name – total.
“Having in-house process engineering and design capability and experience in live environments, as well as the building capabilities, means that when it comes to those food and beverage, aged care, hospitals and manufacturing builds we are there at the beginning, from start to finish,” said Blythman.
The Total approach
Rather than taking a one size fits-all approach to building projects, Total Construction tailors a project to a client’s needs and offers a range of project delivery models.
“Our approach is to focus on what is/will be inside of the building, then wrap a building or fit out around it,” said Blythman. “This approach has served Total and its clients well.
Having gained years of experience working in live environments, the company knows how to take the necessary precautions to eliminate safety risks as well as minimise noise, dust and vibration.”
With every project, Total looks for innovations to improve buildability and offer value engineering solutions, where possible, to ensure the best possible outcome for the client.
As mentioned, one of the company’s specialties is being able to build a plant from concept through to the finished project. It does this by breaking the project down into stages to create check points to ensure the project continues in the right direction. This allows the client to clearly identify any potential issues in cost or operability of the proposed facility.
“The first stage involves us  having a concept discussion with the client to ascertain the scope of the project, current and proposed processes and what the desired outcomes need to be. From this a high level square metre rate can be provided,” said Blythman.
“The next stage is to workshop with all stakeholders, including operations, from the client side to confirm all process flows, equipment, and operational requirements. From these we  can develop design and layout options that allow for the client’s operational needs.”
Total will identify risks and cost implications associated with the buildability of each option and overlay the client’s process flows to check for any pinch points or efficiency issues.
The desired option is then selected to move into the design-development stage. Again, this is workshopped and tweaked with the client to establish the ideal mix of functionality and need with buildability, as well as cost to arrive at the ideal fit-out and building scope.
Once the process design and layout are nailed down, Total will then move to the final design stage and populate the design with all required services – power, drainage, water, hygiene stations, compressed air etc – and also the area finishes, such as flooring, walls, room, air conditioning etc, which will be suitable for live market costing.
“The live market cost and designs provided are sufficient to assist in obtaining finance, board approvals, or simply use to progress to construction and then you are on your way to getting your new building/plant and machinery up and running,” said Blythman.
Throughout the design process shown above, the key items to consider are:

  • optimisation of plant and equipment layout;
  • build and fit out cost reduction wherever possible;
  • ensure authority codes and requirements are met;
  • establish service requirements (power, gas waste);
  • consider people movements and amenities;
  • streamlining production and process flows;
  • designing to SQF, WQA and BRC standards as required;
  • minimise excessive conditioned air areas and refrigeration needs where possible; and
  • maximise the available floor space.

Having completed this process a client can be assured they have thoroughly accounted for all functionality requirements and mitigated project risk by identifying any issues at each check point and covering them off.
Having a builder involved from the project concept stage that understands both the client’s operational needs and building cost implications can be invaluable in ensuring a project goes without a hitch from concept to completion.

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