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R.H. White Completes PremaTech Advanced Ceramics Addition

by: Joanne Ray
An R.H. White equipment operator uses a Caterpillar 330 Excavator to assist in the preparation of the forms for the foundation of the addition.
An R.H. White equipment operator uses a Caterpillar 330 Excavator to assist in the preparation of the forms for the foundation of the addition.
An Independent Concrete Pumping 36-meter pump truck delivers the concrete for the foundation for the 9,135-square-foot PremaTech addition.
An Independent Concrete Pumping 36-meter pump truck delivers the concrete for the foundation for the 9,135-square-foot PremaTech addition.
The initial trench for the foundation and footings was created and gravel was added, leveled, and compacted until the trench was at the appropriate height to place the forms for placement of concrete.
The initial trench for the foundation and footings was created and gravel was added, leveled, and compacted until the trench was at the appropriate height to place the forms for placement of concrete.
A R.H. White employee operates a RAMMAX 1575 Multi-Purpose Articulating Trench Roller during the excavation and site preparation.
A R.H. White employee operates a RAMMAX 1575 Multi-Purpose Articulating Trench Roller during the excavation and site preparation.
R.H. White used a Dynapac soil compactor with vibratory rollers for compaction of the new base.
R.H. White used a Dynapac soil compactor with vibratory rollers for compaction of the new base.
A R.H. White equipment operator from its Utility Construction Division uses a Caterpillar 330 Excavator to deliver processed sand and gravel.
A R.H. White equipment operator from its Utility Construction Division uses a Caterpillar 330 Excavator to deliver processed sand and gravel.
A R.H. White crew member uses a self-propelled vibratory compactor to compact soil around the new foundation.
A R.H. White crew member uses a self-propelled vibratory compactor to compact soil around the new foundation.
R.H. White used a Caterpillar 289D Compact Track Loader and other equipment while completing some exterior work around the addition.
R.H. White used a Caterpillar 289D Compact Track Loader and other equipment while completing some exterior work around the addition.
Counting down to 100 years, R.H. White has been a century old leader in the construction business. It all started back in 1923, when Ralph H. White founded the R.H. White Construction Company when he saw a need for a service that could install water and sewer piping in Worcester, Massachusetts. Ninety-nine years later, this Auburn, Massachusetts-based company has grown to more than 400 employees.

This past June, R.H. White completed yet another project – a 9,135-square-foot addition to an existing manufacturing facility that will house new equipment used for coating specialty parts for the semiconductor industry. The project was housed on 1.5 acres and built for PremaTech Advanced Ceramics in Worcester, Massachusetts.

Project Kickoff
The project kicked off on August 13, 2021, and took less than a year with a June 17, 2022, completion date. Initially, another general contractor started the project, but was unable to complete the job. Through its preconstruction process, R.H. White assembled the design-build partners, analyzed the original design, brought the design to constructable permit-ready drawings, secured the building permit and began construction.

“The materials for the framework and skin of the building were ordered and on site, but construction had not begun,” said Christopher J. Devaney, Director of Business Development for R.H. White. “We do not have a lot of detail on the specifics about that issue, but it presented a unique situation where we came in after some of the initial leg work had begun.”

Site Clearing
As excavation commenced, R.H. White crews worked to clear the partially wooded lot and partnered with Advantage Enterprises for the tree removal. The crew estimates the excavation of 4,000 cubic yards with a maximum excavation of 8 feet with no difficulty with ground water.

“No ledge was found, but the crew found very large boulders,” Devaney said. “Some of the boulders were 7 feet in diameter. Blasting and crushing were not necessary.”

Devaney said the crew cleared the site of stumps and removed and replaced unsuitable soils during initial grading and foundation preparation.

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“R.H. White moved more than 9,000 yards of gravel material in the process of prepping the concrete foundation, the installation of building the drainage system and grading preparation for asphalt paving,” Devaney said. “Just over 5,000 cubic yards of gravel was brought in – the majority being gravel fill.”

Building Drainage and Foundation
The building drainage incorporated downspouts and a series of retention ponds to contain both building structure and parking lot water runoff. A combination of rip rap, crushed stone, and gravel berms were used to shape the retention ponds connected with culverts to allow high water levels to transfer between the ponds. A wetland seed mix and plantings were added to the retention ponds to assist in water absorption.

“R.H. White self-formed the cast-in-place concrete building foundation, placing more than 200 yards of foundation concrete to meet the existing building grades and elevations,” Devaney said. “Concrete pump trucks were used to assist in placing the concrete foundation and floors.”

Moving In
R.H. White also used a combination of self-perform work crews as well as subcontractor partners to complete the building’s interior construction and finishing of the addition.

“We also assisted PremaTech in additional work solutions to remodel rooms in the existing building footprint and added roll-up doors for increased building access,” Devaney said. “Once the building was approved for use, PremaTech moved new equipment into the addition workspace and R.H. White partnered with Asphalt Paving and Maintenance (APMI) for the approximately 2,000-square-foot parking lot paving – complete with Cape Cod berms. Lawn Works provided landscaping, plantings and site restoration.”

The paving process included approximately 2,000 square feet of bituminous asphalt paving, base and top, plus Cape Cod berm to direct lot run-off to retention ponds.

While on-site, trucking crews used 6/10-wheel dumps and triaxle dumps. The main excavator used was a John Deere 300G LC. Other equipment used included a Caterpillar 420F2 Backhoe, John Deere 524K Wheel Loader, a 1-ton compactor trench roller, and a 3-ton vibratory compactor roller.

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As the project progressed, R.H. White’s building construction division constructed the addition and the utility construction division self-performed the site work as part of this building construction project.

“We self-perform with our crews from our Utility Construction Division whenever they are available, as it adds an additional level of control on the project,” Devaney said.

Devaney said that the ability to self-perform many aspects of projects allows for better resource control and on-time project delivery.

“We satisfy this through the diversity of labor in our Building, Mechanical and Utility Construction Divisions,” Devaney said. “This allows us to minimize the number of vendors or subcontractors a customer needs to rely on based on the various disciplines we have under one roof. We even have welding capabilities where some work for projects can be prefabricated and then shipped to the construction site for installation.”

Construction Challenges
As always, most jobs come with their share of challenges. The largest challenge this crew encountered was finding the truck capacity to keep up with the excavation.

“The Geo-tech report said that we should be able to reuse the excavated material, but upon excavation we realized that we could not reuse the material,” Devaney said. “This more than tripled the material that needed to be moved. With having to move 3,000 cubic yards of material, we were unprepared to deal with this quantity.”

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Devaney said the problem was solved when the crew used a third-party trucking application known as TRUX to go to market and find triaxle dumps that could assist with the movement of aggregate. In the workplace, TRUX is known for connecting haulers with local contractors and material producers through a modern mobile app.

“Most days this worked out great, but for a few days we were unable to secure trucking, and this caused some delays,” Devaney said.

Another challenge encountered during the duration of the project, was the access to the location of the expansion.

“The expansion was located at the back of the facility, so all construction traffic had to be routed through the existing parking lot, passing by employee access as well as the loading docks,” Devaney said. “Daily scheduling and communication of major activities with the customer, especially related to sitework activities, became crucial to not have a critical impact to existing operations at the facility while construction was underway.”

In general, special precautions and planning were needed to reduce interruption of the PremaTech work force, to partition construction areas in ways to protect existing working clean rooms and to coordinate construction traffic and workflow to protect both construction workers and PremaTech workforce.

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Devaney said that in spite of the state of the construction industry during the past two years, R.H. White did not experience any major setbacks for this project due to long-lead time issues on materials or supplies.

“This is not necessarily the case for all our projects currently,” Devaney said. “Supply chain issues have certainly affected other jobs for us and so many other construction companies.”

Planning Process
One of the great successes to the R. H. White history, is to have formal pre-planning processes in place before any project starts. These processes help to reduce overall cost by having set standards for productivity, safety, and scheduling in place before construction begins.

“R.H. White’s Pre-Planning Process ensures that customer expectations are aligned with our company capabilities and resources,” Devaney said. “We utilize this process on all projects to improve our delivery and overall customer satisfaction. This allows us to reduce our internal costs and improve our productivity, which is passed on to our customers.”

Project Partners
  • Asphalt Paving and Maintenance: Performed the base paving, cape cod berm, paving top and lot striping
  • Barall and Konover Floors: Installed the LVT flooring in the added cafeteria and bathrooms
  • Colby Fire Protection: Managed the fire suppression installation and modified part of the existing system for the remodeled work areas
  • Guardian Industrial Products: Provided the epoxy floor coating finish for the building addition
  • Interstate Electric: The entirety of the conduit, cabling, lighting, controls and equipment wiring
  • Johnson Structural: Design, fabrication, and installation of structural steel frame for added break room mezzanine in addition
  • JS Mortimer: All heating and ventilation needs for the addition, added the cafeteria and bathrooms, and remodeled rooms in the existing building footprint
  • Kaloutas and Co: Performed a majority of the finish painting and FRP wall covering install
  • KDH Doors and Hardware: Supplied and installed all pass-through doors
  • Lawn Works: Some final grading and final landscape restoration including mulch, trees, shrubs, flowers, and seeding
  • Leveillee Architectural Millwork: Provided and installed cafeteria cabinetry and upgraded quartz countertops, and installed custom built cabinetry in the existing building footprint to improve functionality over HVAC ductwork
  • Moran Plumbing: All plumbing work including the cafeteria and bathroom domestic water and sewer
  • New England Drywall: Managed the majority of the cafeteria and bathroom framing, drywall hanging and finishing, including added walls for the remodeling in the existing building footprint
  • Priority Fence: Added safety/security fencing for the retention pond and the dumpster area, as well as a wood guardrail at the new parking lot

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