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Watt's Up Blog

Handsome as they sometimes are, the colorful 3-dimensional models created for Virtual Design and Construction (VDC) support coordination of construction processes between disciplines, especially in facilities that are dense with technology applied to complex production process, like industrial manufacturing. As part of a current assignment on behalf of Nike IHM Inc. doing business as Air Manufacturing Innovation, Guarantee Electrical Company (Guarantee) has been tasked to supply power to a new chiller system scaled to address the company’s massive need for chilled water serving the growth of their manufacturing effort in St. Louis.  Just as importantly, the Chiller expansion supplies the HVAC serving a 75,000 square-foot expansion of its factory in St. Charles, MO.

The 222,575-square-foot facility is one of Nike’s two operations nationwide responsible for manufacturing more than 3.5 billion units of the variegated, in-sole materials whose precisely engineered layers of cushioning deliver the Air™ performance unique to Nike’s lines of athletic shoes. But more than just feeding its athletic shoe manufacturing supply chain, the Air Manufacturing Innovation unit takes aim at the design, development and manufacturing of custom performance plastic solutions across a range of industries, beyond action sports, to medicine, electronics and even the automotive industry.  As a consequence, the expansion design was conceived around assuring flexibility and speed in the testing and production of advanced plastics.

As part of Alberici’s Constructors design-build team in collaboration with McClure Engineering, Guarantee began with Phase A of a four phase project. The Chiller Building assignment focuses on a key issue facing manufacturing expansion at Nike’s St. Charles campus.  Given an enormous demand for chilled water in plastics manufacturing, the new building called for enabling variable levels of power at a higher efficiency, whereby Guarantee installed four new 3000 kVA transformers, replacing three 2,500 kVA & one 750 kVA transformers to make way for the expansion. Also important to the implementation were number variable feed drives (VFDs) essential to maximizing energy savings in a modular manufacturing environment.

Seen in the plan-view to the right, it’s clear that managing water supply in and out of the system of chillers meant that the distribution of electrical power to this equipment would be optimally placed in the slab.  This provided two advantages: first, by locating the conduit in-ground, wiring and permanent power could be in place and serving the facility and construction shortly after pouring concrete for the slab. Second and just as importantly, in-slab distribution provides an abundance of space for managing placement of the mechanical systems and complex plumbing so important to realizing the cooling systems design. Hence the value of the kind of modeling resources that Guarantee brings to complex technical construction assignments. 

In addition to the electrical design of Chiller Building with its impact on central manufacturing, Guarantee is also providing lighting systems and controls for both interior and exterior site lighting throughout the campus. The company has also been tasked with supplying power and light to a 30,000 SF employee community center serving some 1,300 employees working three shifts at the plant.  There’s more to come from GECO at Nike’s Air Manufacturing Innovations center. Stay tuned.


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