Complete installation of the platform in Teva’s cleanroom.
January 8, 2021, was another proud day for everyone at Ernest D. Menold, Inc. The Lester, Pa., SMACNA contractor celebrated the successful completion of a 310-square-foot stainless steel platform for a Teva Pharmaceuticals manufacturing and research facility in nearby West Chester, Pa.
Menold, Inc. designed the platform to allow Teva personnel elevated access to three new 8-feet-tall bioreactors. The project checked all the right boxes: quality craftsmanship prefabrication, on-time installation, good profit margin, and a happy client.
For Ernie P. Menold, the fourth-generation Menold to work in the family business started by his great grandfather, this project validated that the company can find success in utilizing modern construction technologies and delivery methods.
Assembly of the platform in EDM Inc.’s shop.
“We have really grown our business through the pharmaceutical/life sciences/biotech sector in the past five to 10 years,” said Ernie P., vice president at Menold, Inc., which serves the greater Philadelphia region. “We pride ourselves and really go after that niche.”
Determination to succeed in that sector meant that Menold, Inc. had to match the strict environmental and safety standards that come with most life science projects.
“The company commitments we’ve made — to safety, collaborative design assist project delivery methods, pull planning scheduling, modular pre-fabrication and just-in-time delivery — have changed the way we perform work,” Ernie P. said. “When we were first approached by Teva’s engineers, they had a firm date about four months out by which the bioreactors needed to be up and running. We were able to design, get engineered stamp drawings, fabricate and install this project before Teva’s deadline. For us a contractor, it validates the benefits of having both design-assist delivery methods and pre-fabrication capabilities.”
Ernest P. also made some big personal and professional commitments a few years ago when he returned to Menold, Inc. after nearly a decade working in digital marketing.
“I grew up working here,” he explained. “In high school, I started doing general maintenance in the shop, then grew into helping a mechanic with some fabrication.” In college, Ernie P. returned on summer and winter breaks and worked as an assistant project manager, helping coordinate projects and estimate upcoming work.
“I was always attracted to construction because it’s tangible. There is great satisfaction in taking an idea from a drawing to a finished product,” he said. “It’s been quite a change for me over the past few years.”
The Teva platform project further validates that he made the right decision.
Ernie P. said the biggest challenge at Teva was the installation had to be performed in an active ‘clean room,’ meaning absolutely no grinding, sanding, cutting or welding on the job site.
“We prefabricated the entire platform in our shop, labeling and sequencing each structural member for delivery, then disassembled and bundled all the parts for storage for a sequenced installation,” he explained.
The platform was fabricated out of 8,000 pounds of stainless steel, including 4” x 4” x 1/4” and 2” x 2” x 1/4” structural tubing. All visible outside corner welds were grounded smooth and polished. The Menold shop team used a new pipe bender to fashion the platform railings out of 1 1/4” SCH. 40 PIPE 304-4F. The platform floor was created with 1/4” type 304 stainless steel diamond plate, with a cup finish on top.
All of this stainless steel was essentially assembled twice: first in the shop, then at Teva. For the second assembly, the Menold, Inc. field installation crew had to go through a clean room gowning procedure with booties, hair nets, Tyvek suits, and masks. They were on site for about two weeks.
“If any field corrections had to be made to our pre-fabricated structural members, we would have had to exit the facility, perform the work outside, and re-gown to re-enter the clean room,” Ernie P. said. “With the proper coordination between design, shop and field personnel, this was avoided entirely.
Menold, Inc. has around 90 employees, and Ernie P. is quick to give credit to all of them, including members of Sheet Metal Workers Local 19. “The success of this project is a credit to our employees who executed it, such as Project Manager Bo Smart and Design Manager Lou DiTomo,” Ernie P. said.
He also noted that it takes a lot of skill to work with stainless steel, and Menold, Inc. fabricators are top notch craftsmen. “Phenomenal job to our design, shop and field crews for completing this project on-time, safely and with the highest quality. They first began working with Teva’s engineers developing the scope of the project, all the way through installation of the bioreactor tanks.”
“At the core of our company, we solve our customer’s problems,” Ernie P. says proudly. “We like to take on our customer’s issues, and design, fabricate, and install the solution. That’s exactly what we were able to provide for Teva. We continue to take on more complex projects, often in highly controlled environments.”