HBL Associates completes £75m packing site project at AstraZeneca

15th November 2019

Manchester-based civil and structural engineering consultancy, HBL Associates has completed a contract with pharmaceutical giant, AstraZeneca to deliver technical improvements to the packing site of the company’s 1,800-strong campus in Macclesfield, Cheshire

Macclesfield is the company’s European centre for packing and this project will involve extensive work across high bay and low bay warehouse areas as part of a significant £75m pound investment in the site and a further boost to Britain’s £60 billion life science industry.

Working for Boulting Environmental Services, specialists in the pharmaceutical, life science and health care sectors, HBL Associates were responsible for both the foundation design of the new £8m automated high bay warehouse, and the civil and structural design on the £45m refurbishment of the existing low bay warehouse facility.

The new 30m high bay is a clad rack structure housing an integrated, state-of-the-art materials handling facility, allowing for storage and movement of some 14,000 pallets, and 4 rack servicing cranes, all within a closely temperature-controlled environment. HBL initially worked closely with demolition contractors on the phased demolition of the original 16m high bay warehouse, which was built next to 3 existing buildings all of which remained in operation throughout the work. Close collaboration with the remaining design team, including the client’s specialist automated warehouse supplier, ensured the design of the new raft slab was supported on 900 new piles to accommodate the high rack loading to the tight tolerances required.

HBL was also involved in the design of various support structures for the associated HVAC requirements, and a new plant room structure to house the hypoxic fire prevention system. This was incorporated into the design to maintain a reduced oxygen atmosphere within the warehouse, in lieu of a sprinkler system to protect the client’s products.

Extensive refurbishment work has also been carried out on the existing low bay warehouse, which houses an environmentally controlled and validated facility comprising 14 new packing lines. Throughout the project, work was phased across different areas of the 14,000 square metre warehouse to maintain the client’s ‘business as usual’ activities.

Part of these works have included the civil and structural design of the 8,000 square metre refurbishment of the existing facility to house a new 80m x 20m elevated plant deck structure. This supports the associated plant for the packing lines within the existing portal frame warehouse, including new pad foundations to the frame.

HBL’s associate director, Abdul Ben Ghalbon helped to deliver this project and commented: “The stringent design specifications, health and safety and environmental considerations within any pharmaceutical plant present their own distinct challenges, as does introducing new facilities into an existing, fully operational site, without disrupting ongoing activities.

“Working closely alongside our partners, Boulting Environmental Services, we have been able to fulfil these testing parameters and effect major improvements to the efficiency of AstraZeneca’s important European packing hub in Macclesfield.”