Pretzels Inc., a leading, family-owned pretzel manufacturer, had two production plants: one in Bluffton, Indiana, and another in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania. On June 4, 2016, the Canonsburg plant suffered a devastating fire. This was the only plant that produced Pretzels Inc.’s popular peanut butter filled pretzels.
Two days after this devastating loss, the Owner contacted The Austin Company. By June 8, the Austin team was brainstorming solutions with the Owner. The driving force behind this project was to get Pretzels Inc. up and running again as quickly as possible, with production back on-line by the first quarter of 2017.
To maximize efficiency, a fully integrated project delivery approach was needed. Austin delivered, providing location consulting and design-build solutions, including site selection, planning, design, engineering and construction, utilizing a flash-track approach. Flash-track refers to an approach that is faster than the traditional fast-track method and utilizes inter-phase and intra-phase overlapping of work packages.
With Austin’s guidance, including incentive negotiation and due diligence, in September the Owner selected a site in Plymouth, Indiana. Site location activities were completed in an integrated fashion with the design and engineering team. Possible design concepts were developed and quickly test-fitted to sites – investigating physical fit, site logistics and utility demands.
The chosen site had an existing 45,000 square-foot spec building without a floor, that required renovations to meet strict food safety standards and other modifications. To create a highly efficient, safe and sanitary production plant, the project team utilized good manufacturing practices (GMP) and addressed new requirements set forth by the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) in the plant’s design and construction.
The plant’s “U” layout delivers greater efficiency and safety to all products leaving the facility. Walkable ceilings were installed, improving the overall sanitation, cleanliness and maintainability of the plant.
In October, the building permit was secured. Unexpected excavation and site drainage issues were dealt with swiftly and Austin released partial trade work packages throughout the duration of the project to manage the tight schedule.
The Owner established January 16 as the equipment installation date. Everything had to be in place because if the date was missed, it would delay subsequent activities by at least a month. The project team delivered, the equipment was installed, and the ovens were tested by mid-March, keeping the flash-track schedule intact.
The project was completed on schedule, with a Certificate of Occupancy awarded on March 17, 2017 – just over nine months since the devastating fire. By March 23, peanut butter filled pretzels were being test baked and the first product for sale was produced on April 11, 2017. In addition, the project team achieved zero safety incidents on this 100,000-man-hour project.
In less than ten months, the project team delivered an efficient, safe and quality pretzel bakery that restored and improved operations for Pretzels Inc.