With demand rising for its H-47 Chinook heavy-lift military helicopter, the Boeing Co. sought to increase production and efficiency at its Ridley Park, Pa., campus while maintaining ongoing operations. The resulting five-year Chinook H-47 Focus Factory Conversion Program transformed the company's historic 85-year-old industrial helicopter production complex through several major capital renovation, modernization and new construction projects.
More than 1,500 construction workers logged nearly 750,000 hours without disrupting the existing facility's 24-hour, seven-days-a-week assembly operations—often working less than 20 ft from a temporary demising wall. When completed in April 2014, the project boasted a clean safety record, with no lost-time accidents or recordable incidents.
Led by construction manager STV Construction, the team developed comprehensive, fast-track scheduling and project phasing. In addition to coordinating with Boeing and the project's lead designer Ballinger, the team worked closely with numerous stakeholders, including military, regulatory, commissioning and contract entities. To meet critical milestones, the program's approach involved ongoing daily interaction and cooperation among designers, contractors, service providers, Boeing shift management and key production personnel at all levels.
The existing factory did not offer another location for the main assembly lines to be set up during construction. The team relocated critical utility systems, while aircraft production and parts flow continued unabated between various assembly positions. Renovations in production docks were scheduled during off-shifts, allowing activities to continue on a parallel path.
Typical construction dust, dirt and debris had to be kept to a minimum. Contractors enacted indoor-air-quality management plans for each phase, including control measures such as full-height scaffold sail walls, sealed-plastic dust barriers and negative pressurization of affected zones to prevent air migration into occupied areas, as well as fitting all gas or diesel equipment with exhaust scrubbers to reduce airborne pollutants.
When a reconditioned portion of the factory was ready for occupancy, the parts, tools and equipment needed for each assembly-line position was moved into place over a weekend or holiday without impact to site staff or Boeing's production schedule.
As Boeing's first factory renovation designed for LEED certification, the program has set a precedent for future factory improvements. Heavily insulated panels, perimeter vision glass and ceiling-level clerestory glass allow daylight into the factory. New T5HO fluorescent units and a day-lighting control system were specified to save an estimated 587,000 kWhr of energy and more than $132,000 in energy and maintenance costs annually. The HVAC system includes five air-rotation units placed along the west wall, with chilled-water and hot-water piping on the perimeter. This approach eliminated the need to install ductwork above active aircraft assembly and saved more than $10 million, compared with conventional HVAC ductwork systems.
Construction quality was also critical. The concrete contractor exceeded specified floor-flatness and floor-levelness tolerances without the typical use of a mechanical laser screed. Instead, crews employed a hand screed rail to install and finish the floors. This method was necessary to address the design of the reinforced slab as well as the limited access to the area due to the sequenced, phased construction plan.
The program was designed to enhance work force collaboration, improve communication and improve production efficiency. The completed complex comprises multiple contiguous buildings, with integral engineering support and office functions relocated close to production. n
Submitted by STV Construction
Owner The Boeing Co.
Construction Manager STV Construction
Builders Haverstick-Borthwick Co.; Paul Restall Co.
Engineers Ballinger; H. Gilroy Damon Associates; Terra-Hydro Engineering Group
Subcontractors Healy, Long and Jevin; Petrini; Clinger Electric; Truskey