BES returns to AstraZeneca GPC for a time critical upgrade

BES returns to AstraZeneca GPC for a time critical upgrade

When we completed the design and construction of AstraZeneca’s Global Packing Centre (GPC) early in 2020, we already knew there was a strong possibility we would be back to extend the facilities within the building footprint in the future. The original project, at the Macclesfield site, involved provision for nine packing lines. The facility included a fallow area earmarked for potential future expansion, and we had designed and installed all mechanical and electrical plant and services with that in mind. 

We have now delivered a follow-on project at the GPC as principal designer and principal contractor, adding a further five packing lines to the clean environment in a fast-track six month design and delivery programme. Maintaining business-as-usual (BAU) operations throughout the project, we absorbed significant changes to the scope within the original programme. The project was completed on time against strict quality, health and safety requirements, despite pandemic safety restrictions.

Revised Scope

BES assigned the same multi-disciplinary team to the new project. This ensured continuity for the client and enabled us to leverage our knowledge of the original design and construction. The effective collaboration and open and honest communication were fundamental to the success of this fast-tracked delivery.

The initial client brief was to create two additional packing lines to the same Grade D specification as the existing nine lines within the GPC. This utilised the knowledge of the BES team, both in replicating the architectural and building services design, and in planning the connections to the existing plant, which we had originally designed with sufficient capacity to accommodate new lines.

During early stages of the delivery, commercial factors prompted AstraZeneca to change the scope with the addition of three low volume, Grade D packing lines. We were asked to include these within the project using two of the bays in the fallow area. These ‘low volume’ lines were of a different, compact design and specification, and needed to be delivered within the original project period, against operationally critical deadlines.

Engineering Director, Jonathan Morton, explains: “The GPC shutdown was scheduled over the Christmas and New Year period. Everything had to be built and ready at the beginning of the shutdown so that commissioning and validation could take place while the other lines were not in use. Any delay in the critical path could have jeopardised that commissioning and validation window, so, despite the additional scope, we had to find a way to get the project designed and delivered to the required standard on time. Moreover, it had to be done within an operational environment and with the additional health and safety demands of COVID-19 protocols.”

Leveraging BES’s Strengths

Our approach to meeting the client’s objectives was to leverage our strengths as a multi-disciplinary provider and overlap the design and construction programmes wherever possible. We were also able to use our supply chain advantages to fast track our order for the partitions needed to segregate the operational areas from the work area. The Norwood partitions were critical for maintaining GMP cleanroom compliance and quality assurance protocols to enable ongoing operations in the GPC. Because Norwood is a subsidiary of BES, we were able to stipulate demanding deadlines for the design and manufacture of the partitions, which had to be installed before we could begin construction. We also utilised our own in-house pipework installers to build valve sets off site, which also significantly helped to accelerate the programme.   

Our remit for the project included architectural design, electrical, HVAC and mechanical services, building management and environmental monitoring systems integration, construction, commissioning and validation support. We included architectural and building services elements to overcome potential challenges for future development within the remaining fallow area, notably installing the flooring and ductwork that will be required. Construction had to be completed by the start of the Christmas shutdown to provide sufficient time for all connections to existing plant, commissioning and validation to be done while the GPC was offline. 

To achieve this milestone and ensure COVID safety, we deployed smaller teams and implemented 16-hour+ days throughout the project. Similarly, our team worked during shutdown period, completing all commissioning requirements on time and to high quality standards.

Giuseppe Palo, senior project manager at AstraZeneca, adds: “In a fast-moving sector like ours, it’s not unusual for commercial and operational requirements to change after a project has already begun. In this instance, we needed a design and construction team who would work with us to get the revised scope across the line in time for the commissioning window in December.

“BES’s collaborative approach, multi-disciplinary team and ability to think creatively and practically to overcome project challenges meant we were able to hit the deadline without any risk to business continuity or quality.”


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