Austin Consulting is unique among site selection firms in that its professionals constitute a division of a premier design-build firm. Our routine collaboration with in-house engineering and architectural colleagues across all technical disciplines gives Austin Consulting unique insight into the industrial design-build process.
Recently, Charles Slife and I traveled to Pennsylvania, with a team from The Austin Company to visit an ongoing project for a baking and snack manufacturer. During this visit, we gained a better understanding of the many unique aspects and challenges associated with engineering and constructing food processing facilities.
At the location, The Austin Company assisted the manufacturer in designing, engineering and constructing plant refrigeration upgrades, eliminating 22 refrigeration units, and installing two new ammonia and glycol-based cooling systems.
Observations that Charles and I made from this visit – but that should be considered for most projects – include:
- Building designs that minimize ledges and flat surfaces limit dust collection and make product contamination of food products less likely. Many Austin Consulting clients want an existing building, yet an improper building can affect a product or require costly modifications and improvements.
- Site and structural specifications can vary across a project site. Assurance that a property can accommodate an operation’s varied requirements underscores the importance of thorough due diligence, particularly geotechnical exploration, in the project’s early planning stages.
- Unique project deadlines and the installation of upgrades must have minimal effect on ongoing production. Communities must be vetted to ensure that permits can be issued quickly and reliably.
- Companies require special design considerations for labor that make work easier and safer for plant employees. At a time of historically low unemployment rates, the need for a business to attract and retain highly qualified employees is of paramount concern to executives.
- At this location in Pennsylvania, rooftop equipment was re-engineered to minimize additional stress on the structure due to weather conditions like the weight of snow. When companies are engaged in a multi-region or multi-state location search, their consultant must be able to account for local factors that might impact the proposed project.
Whether a company is in search of a new building or intends to construct a custom-built facility from the ground-up, the counsel and input from knowledgeable location consultants can be instrumental to overall project success. The professionals at Austin Consulting have the knowhow to assist decision makers in selecting the best option to meet the Owner’s project needs and objectives.
Strong relationships with colleagues throughout the industrial design-build process allow Austin Consulting to expertly evaluate the characteristics of a property, consider how a proposed operation would need to be adapted to succeed at a given location, and offer clients immediate connectivity to expert engineers and architects.