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May 7, 2024 Property ConsultingDesignConstructionIndustrial/Manufacturing

Preparation is Key for Successful Manufacturing Equipment Installation


Several years ago, GE Gas Turbine (now GE Vernova) embarked on a mission to bring four custom-built, 10-ton grinding machines to its Greenville, SC campus. The goal was to increase not only grinding capacity, but also the precision with which they could shape parts for gas turbines. As the company’s long-time Design-Build partner,
A M King was commissioned to perform this manufacturing equipment installation.

Because return-on-investment (ROI) and speed to market are so critical in this industry, this complex project required extensive preparation to ensure a successful outcome. In fact, 75 percent of the work we did occurred before the equipment ever arrived on site.

In addition to GE, A M King provides ongoing facility services to other manufacturing clients such as  ZF Transmissions Gray Court; and Honeywell Aerospace. We have become familiar not only with their equipment, but also with utilities, existing conditions, access routes, etc.

Let’s take a deeper dive into our strategy for equipment installation, why it works and how our clients benefit.

A M King’s Approach to Manufacturing Equipment Installation

Collaboration between key manufacturing installation players prior to equipment installation.

Providing facility services to the manufacturing industry requires a variety of skill sets and an elevated level of knowledge in a number of areas. One of the more challenging, yet most important, areas of our work is manufacturing equipment installation.

In today’s manufacturing environment, equipment often includes a variety of multifaceted, technical components and electronics — which in turn, highly automate functions and processes. Furthermore, much of this equipment is large, with heights and lengths measuring in many feet, and weights measured in tons.

This type of manufacturing equipment must also be custom designed and fabricated, takes months to build, and requires specific expertise for commissioning and start-up. Manufacturers purchase their new equipment as an investment, with a specific ROI duration.

An efficient installation is necessary to ensure the equipment operates correctly, supporting a manufacturer’s overall facility production goals.

We have become familiar not only with our clients’ equipment, but also with utilities, existing conditions, access routes, etc. We routinely collaborate with our clients about potential upgrades and timelines for achieving their facility goals. If new equipment is needed, we assess whether demolition or modifications are required, and wisely use the time that the machine is being fabricated to prepare space for it.


Preconstruction Phase

An A M King expert wearing an orange vest, performing ongoing, onsite facility services.

When GE made the decision to purchase the grinding machines, we entered discussions with them about how to integrate the first of four machines into their existing facility. The earliest part of this phase included three important actions we needed to take:

  1. Gather information about the machines, which we did during our trip to the manufacturing plant in northern Spain.
  2. Develop an as-built model of the machines — much like we do as-built drawings of a building — so that we would have dimensions such as height and weight.
  3. Identify utility requirements.

Having this information would eliminate last-minute modifications and delays in completion, or changes once the equipment arrived in Greenville. From this point, the machines would take two years to build.

Because A M King is an integrated Design-Build firm, many of our projects begin with property consulting and our manufacturing projects are no different. While GE’s machines were being made, we focused on identifying spaces within their 1.5 million-sf facility that could house the new equipment, and conducted impact studies to determine the best location for desired cost, schedule and logistics outcomes.

Our planning process involved plant engineers, equipment operators, the equipment suppliers, and of course our team of associated subcontractors and vendors. During this time, we focused on preparing foundations, utilities and overhead clearance in the selected space, and worked with the client to determine how they would make use of the new capacity.

Our tenure at GE — and it’s also happening at Honeywell and ZF — creates an advantage for both the client and A M King. The information transfer is happening organically. The more projects we do, the more knowledge we gain and the more value we can bring.

A M King has been working at GE Greenville for 20 years and in that time, we’ve touched a lot of equipment. On the grinding machine install project, we removed a machine that we previously installed to make room for the new grinding machines. Because we put the original equipment in, we knew how much concrete had to be removed, and how to handle electrical and utilities. That is knowledge that we wouldn’t have had otherwise.

At Honeywell Aerospace in Greer, SC — another facility services client — we led a phased expansion to support the complex infrastructure requirements of four new EV-PVD coater machines. To prepare for the arrival of the new equipment, we constructed 20,000 sf of new manufacturing space on the west edge of the existing facility and upgraded all required utilities.

The Design-Build project for Honeywell also encompassed renovation of the existing 180,000-sf facility, including 20’ higher ceilings to accommodate the new machines; design and construction of an operations room; a mechanical room; and an electrical room powering the current coater and expandable for three additional coaters. One particularly unique component of this project was our installation of a process water cooling system, which was designed especially for sensitive coating equipment.



 A birds-eye view of an industrial manufacturing facility.

A M King experts are adept at dealing with challenges associated with complex manufacturing equipment installation. Prior to installation, we consider:

  1. Confined or tight working spaces
  2. Time constraints
  3. Extreme sensitivity of the equipment
  4. Safety concerns

Our planning process is comprehensive in its scope, contains contingencies in the case of unforeseen situations, and ultimately has a written standard of success completion that can be acknowledged by all involved parties.

Based on manufacturer’s information, machine weight, center of gravity, pick points, and clear dimensions, we create a formal plan that ensures all machine and existing building interferences are avoided; client employees are notified; the lifting equipment has sufficient capacity and range to safely move the equipment; and rigging accessories are approved for the specific task.

When the machines are delivered in crates in pieces, we work with the manufacturer’s representative to review parts and determine an assembly strategy. We then transport them in parts to the designated location in the facility and we’re ready for the installation itself, the duration of which is minor compared to the preparation phase.

 ZF Test Systems test benches.

We’re currently working on a project related to installation of seven, 30-ton test benches for ZF Transmissions Gray Court. Similarly to the GE grinding machines, we began preparing a detailed plan for integrating the test benches into the company’s existing operation while they were being manufactured overseas.

When the equipment began its journey across the Atlantic from Germany, we coordinated with the carrier and assembled the required manpower, materials and gear. Our plans documented our strategy for unloading, unpackaging, and equipment rigging and setting.

Not only had we prepared spaces for the test benches within the ZF facility — including installation of all required utilities — but we also planned how to move the behemoth gear into the building and to designated locations. Our teams of logistics experts and subcontractors were ready to receive the equipment, ensuring a timely and efficient delivery and set up.

Because we took ownership of this project months before the equipment arrived, and managed transportation of the equipment, our relationship with the client is enriched. ZF is able to carry on with production while we handle the intricacies of this complex project.

For GE, the installation of four grinding machines gave the company the ability to grind any part at any angle beyond specifications required to bring value to that part. Another significant benefit is that they have the option to outsource this service. We allowed our client to return to doing what they do, which is manufacturing.

We handled all design, construction, logistics, impact studies and construction liability. We were also able to handle the commissioning and management and deliver a piece of equipment that is producing a part on time and under budget.



A M King manages projects from conception through equipment commissioning.

Historically, the focus with manufacturing equipment installation is on the last phase when the machine(s) are actually delivered. While we can seamlessly execute that function, we find that the entire process is more efficient if we concentrate on the preceding three-quarters of the project.

This preliminary phase takes place while large-scale equipment is being fabricated — often overseas.  Because ROI and speed to market are so crucial, preparing space for the machines prior to delivery is paramount. All utilities and foundations have to fit in order for it to be profitable for the client.

We leverage our existing knowledge of our client’s manufacturing facilities to bring value and efficiency, managing the project from the time the idea is born through equipment commissioning.

Learn more about Industrial Manufacturing expertise at A M King.

Successful Manufacturing Equipment Installation: This image showcases A M King's 20 years of Design-Build excellence. Successful Manufacturing Equipment Installation: This image is a link to SC Biz News' 2024 Manufacturing Power List featuring Andre Harris.

Andre Harris
Andre Harris
Andre Harris is Business Unit Leader at A M King’s Greenville office. Andre manages complex projects and facility services programs for industrial manufacturing clients in the automotive, energy and aerospace industries. He recently secured a spot on SC Biz News’ 2024 Manufacturing Power List.  
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