about planning to accommodate an unknown
future. Product lines change quickly, mergers and
acquisitions leave facility rubble in their wake,
and R&D morphs with failed clinical trials, newly
recruited researchers, and nascent business pursuits.
What’s a facility planning team to do? While
in years past, facilities staff often reacted to programs and business plans handed down through
an organization’s hierarchy, today’s teams need
to go well beyond the bricks and mortar and
immerse themselves in the business. Ensure that
you and your staff understand the business plan,
the potential obstacles, the product roadmaps,
and the mergers and acquisitions being explored.
Make sure facilities has “a seat at the management table.” Too often in the past, the leading
facilities professional in many organizations
was buried in the basement somewhere with the
team—not viewed as a C-suite player, despite
their impact on billions of capex and commensurate amounts of product revenue and operational
Developing strong relationships with the
CEO, CFO, heads of business units, the operations lead, the legal team, and, yes, even HR,
will put the facilities team in the forefront and,
more importantly, ensure a deeper understanding
of the business so that future stakes aren’t overlooked when planning a controlled environment
project. On the flip side, a place at the table gives
a fighting chance to ensuring precious laboratory
or manufacturing space isn’t sacrificed to make
way for a grand lobby designed to impress visitors
or salve egos.
Sometimes value engineering suggestions really are
“too good to be true.”
Your engineering consultants have put careful
consideration, expertise, research, and their
professional reputation and licenses behind the
plans developed for your project. Think carefully
and with your best analytical skills before blindly
accepting the recommendations of a “value engineering” analysis by another consultant or contractor.
Without a doubt, there can be benefits from
further analysis. But often a company will turn
to value engineering as an exercise driven mainly
by a desire to cut costs from a budget or project
construction estimate (which brings us back to the
recommendation to “budget carefully.”) Be aware
of who’s driving the exercise, as oftentimes designers, engineers, and contractors can have opposing
objectives. Be careful how you structure your contracts with each party, and be fully aware of the
ramifications of your contractual rewards system.
Accepting a value engineering suggestion in
the spring to cut costs from a rooftop air intake
system may not seem quite as savvy come January
when fine snows infiltrate your HVAC system and
cause a plant shutdown.
Carefully consider lifecycle costs versus initial costs.
Budgetary pressures can force one’s hand towards
less than optimal decisions, and nowhere does
that become more apparent than when management opts to reduce initial costs while sacrificing
the opportunity to optimize project lifecycle costs.
While the “right” decision can be a matter of
meeting objectives, often deciding to reduce initial
costs at the expense of lifecycle costs is the result
of political or positioning pressures.
These are just some of the often overlooked
components of a cleanroom planning project.
Planning or renovating a cleanroom is a lot more
complicated than solving a Rubik’s Cube: the
cleanroom project has myriads of considerations
that must ultimately align, while a Rubik’s Cube
has 54 colored squares, with 26 pieces ( 8 corners,
12 edges, and 6 centers) and only 20 moving parts.
It can also be a lot more entertaining, despite its
“nearness to life,” as Erno Rubik noted.
Kate Everett, PE, LEED AP, is a principal and
director of mechanical engineering services at SMRT
Architects and Engineers. She has more than 25 years’
experience engineering complex, sustainable mechanical systems for science, technology, healthcare, education, and government clients. firstname.lastname@example.org;