The robust modular racking program implemented at Corner Brook Acute Hospital, the first of its kind in Newfoundland, and the first in Canada to be done under seismic constraints and a steel structure, demonstrated the value of a coordinated, multi-trade prefabrication approach in healthcare settings and the benefits of early adoption in Design Build contracts.
This mega project, like others of its size, required strategic thought to staff properly with the right skillset. We were adamant from the beginning of the project, that we wanted to the economy of Newfoundland to reap the benefit of such an iconic project in the province. With the finite number of sheet metal workers available, the logistical constraints of working on an island, and managing workers who mostly travel from other cities and towns within Newfoundland (compounded by a set number of accommodations in the local area) we had to look for clever strategies to temper our manpower curve to remove as many peaks and valleys as possible.
To reduce the major manpower peak, and keep workers employed more consistently, we focused on developing a modular build philosophy that allowed us to employ sheet metal professionals and have them employed earlier in the project in a better and safer work environment.
Modules were designed to be fabricated on the ground, reducing working at heights exposure hours, and improving ergonomics for our workforce. We were able to build a large portion of our major distribution racks without working at height, with a composite workforce who remained employed throughout the entirety of the scope.
Racks were built early, allowing us to pull ahead the hours that were needed to be worked over a year earlier in the project, allowing us to spread out thousands of hours of work over a longer period of time, again, keeping manpower employed more consistently and reducing the manpower compaction that would have been necessary using stick-built philosophy that is common on most other projects.
The multi-trade modular racking solution developed on CBACH was designed with the primary goal of doing more with less. By incorporating electrical, HVAC, medical gas, and plumbing systems on each rack, three multidisciplinary crews of 9 tradespeople each were able to fabricate and install approx.. 70,000ft of pipe, 75,000lbs of sheet metal, and 5000ft of cable tray on 212 modular, seismically engineered racks of either 20ft or 30ft lengths. Using comprehensive drawings and BOMs provided by the BIM group developed to complement the carefully designed assembly line strategies both on-site and in a nearby facility purchased for the program, labourers were able to work safely and quickly from the ground and were able to completely fabricate a 20ft rack in 180 hours and a 30ft rack in 240 hours. Over 2200 inserts were installed in the deck prior to the concrete pours using a LEICA station and LEICA point system for accuracy, and all of the supports connected to those inserts were pre-installed ahead of the fabrication of the racks allowing fully fabricated racks to be installed in two hours. Overall, the program was estimated to reduce the peak labour curve by 50 tradespeople and the total number of labour hours by 36,000, eliminating the requirement for out-of-province rotational labourers. Scheduling the racks to be pre-assembled prior to rough-in start mitigated the long lead times on materials and allowed for mitigation of several logistics-related delays on the project.