When rPlanet Earth launched construction on its inaugural facility, the unique plastics recycling and manufacturing business tapped Woodard & Curran to perform a design-build process and utility project. Working closely with the client, OEMs, and contractors, the project team turned around a comprehensive manufacturing facility design customized to the needs and values of the client. Now complete, the rPlanet Earth facility converts post-consumer polyethylene terephthalate (PET) into recycled PET (rPET) content packaging products for the food and beverage industries.
COMPREHENSIVE PROCESS DESIGN
At the start of the project, rPlanet Earth had not yet acquired a physical property or building, nor the accompanying infrastructure for its manufacturing processes. The Woodard & Curran team assisted the client in site selection, and evaluated several sites for space, utility, and permitting considerations.
Our design-build team worked with key manufacturing vendors to obtain state-of-the-art extrusion, injection molding, and thermoforming equipment and implement first-of-their-kind processes to ensure the packaging produced at this facility is competitively priced in comparison to similar virgin plastic products. The selected equipment came with specific utility requirements: electrical, controls, two closed loop water systems, steam, compressed air, and other aspects were designed to support equipment. Each design had to be carefully coordinated to ensure that once equipment arrived on site, the team could install and activate it efficiently.
Once the needed equipment and infrastructure was identified, our design team created layouts around ergonomic design for workers, and the rate and volume of material inflow and outflow — all the time bearing consideration for the building square footage and height, as well as matching equipment and infrastructure to staffing. Designing this manufacturing line before the hiring process allowed rPlanet Earth to take advantage of greater manpower planning — ensuring that when the plant was operational, the business benefitted from an adequate workforce without overstaffing.
On any jobsite, coordination is key — and coordination is optimized when parties communicate. Woodard & Curran not only performed the design and procurement component of the rPlanet Earth project, but also oversaw related construction and scheduling. Our construction management team coordinated jobsite resources with a heavy focus on communication between contractors and stakeholders throughout the build.
Another challenging aspect of this project made more efficient by design-build delivery was the reception and installation of equipment. Our team scheduled arrival of manufacturing line equipment on a strict schedule to ensure it arrived when needed and had a place to go. The scale of manufacturing equipment also requires substantial unloading and handling coordination, so ensuring the personnel and machinery required to install components was just as crucial as sequencing. This well-choreographed process minimized downtime and reduced risk of damage to manufacturing equipment.
Thanks to a well-coordinated team working toward a common goal, this design-build project culminated in a first-of-its-kind, all-in-one plastic recycling facility. rPlanet Earth began operation in 2018.