Not Just Hanging Pipe

March 1, 2009
Shambaugh & Son L.P., a unit of EMCOR Group, has completed work as the design/build fire protection contractor for the SYSCO Food Service new prototype “next generation,” award winning, facility in Knoxville, Tenn.

Shambaugh & Son L.P., a unit of EMCOR Group, has completed work as the design/build fire protection contractor for the SYSCO Food Service new prototype “next generation,” award winning, facility in Knoxville, Tenn.

Shambaugh & Son, Ft. Wayne, Ind., as the design/build fire protection contractor on the project, was responsible for the design and installation of seven double interlocked pre-action sprinkler systems with linear heat detection for the freezer/cooler areas of the 353,000-sq.ft. facility. In addition, Shambaugh & Son installed four Early Suppression Fast Response sprinkler systems for the ambient high bay storage area.

The SYSCO Food Service facility was recently honored by the National Design-Build Institute of America with its Private Sector Building award for 2008 in the category of “Over $15 Million Design-Build Excellence.”

Long-standing relationship

“This is the 32nd facility that Shambaugh & Son has completed in the past decade for SYSCO Food Service — we are proud of our long-term relationship with SYSCO,” says Mark Shambaugh, president and CEO of Shambaugh & Son. “Employing unparalleled in-house expertise, our fire protection group takes great pride in consistently producing our industry's highest level of accurate and detailed sprinkler system designs and installations of complex hazard protection systems for the most demanding industries.”

“Next generation” innovations include two robotic mechanized product storage and retrieval systems that improve handling efficiency, state-of-the-art lighting control systems to reduce electrical consumption, a generator capable of sustaining the facility at full operating capacity in the event of a power interruption or failure, and a premier culinary training and evaluation center.

The facility contains freezer, cooler and ambient storage areas, and a spacious refrigerated dock to maintain maximum food safety and efficient inbound and outbound freight processes. The complex also includes administrative offices and a four-bay truck maintenance building.

Shambaugh won the contract because of its long-standing relationship with SYSCO, said the firm's Vice President of Operations Rob Vincent. As the preferred contractor, general contractors must get Shambaugh's base bid, although the GC doesn't have to use them — sometimes at its own peril. Vincent recalls a SYSCO job about four years ago where the GC used somebody else and ended up paying penalties because the fire protection work missed the completion date. Because SYSCO transfers food from an old warehouse into a new one, it holds its contractors to firm completion dates.

The teams also know each other, so Joe Waffle, engineering manager for Shambaugh Fire Protection, has a relationship with Travis Miller, SYSCO's designer for the Knoxville facility. The same is true of the project superintendent, who knows what SYSCO likes and doesn't like from his long experience on SYSCO projects. That keeps the punch list short. Shambaugh has “SYSCO teams,” Vincent says.

“They actually request that,” he says. “We made the commitment several years ago that we would look at every SYSCO building in the U.S. and we service them as such. It saves a lot of potential problems.”

The warehouse consists of approximately 50% ambient temperature storage and 50% refrigerated, with two-thirds of that being frozen food, said Vincent. The single-story warehouse has a 25-ft. maximum storage height in the ambient area and 35-ft. storage height in the refrigerated section.

The contractor installed double interlock preaction sprinklers in the freezer and cooler, preaction sprinklers in the computer room and Early Suppression Fast Response sprinklers in the ambient storage area. The two-story office space contains conventional wet-pipe sprinklers.

Early coordination with ESFR sprinklers around the storage racks is critical. Shambaugh and the rest of the team coordinated around the steel framing, bridging and lights well beforehand in the design phase, all prior to steel erection, in the old fashioned way of overlaying drawings.

Lineal heat detection

Another crucial part of the project was the Protectowire lineal heat detection system for the dry-pipe sprinklers in the refrigerated section. The double interlock on the sprinklers requires both loss of air pressure in the system, signaling that a sprinkler head has opened and heat activation. The Protectowire lineal heat activation system consists of a coated wire running next to the sprinkler pipe that will melt at 135°F. The break in the wire sends a signal to a control panel that will open a solenoid valve, allowing water flow. The lineal heat detection wire is suspended from the sprinkler pipe with a special hanger.

A 2,500-GPM fire pump capable of moving as much as 3,750-gals. (50% extra capacity is a requirement) at 20-psi supplies water to the system. The system was designed to have 12 sprinklers activate in the ESFR ambient system and 25 open sprinklers in the refrigerated area. Those numbers are based on National Fire Protection Association and Factory Mutual codes and standards. Because the system is dry pipe in the refrigerated section, at least 60 seconds is anticipated before water reaches the sprinklers, so the fire may be larger and activate more sprinklers than would normally activate in a wet pipe system.

Shambaugh installed thousands of feet of pipe, Vincent says, galvanized pipe in the cooler and black pipe in the rest of the building, ranging in size from 8-in. down to 2-in. pipe. The contractor installed approximately 4,500 sprinklers, including two in-rack sprinkler systems, one for cooking oil storage and the other for plastics like plates and utensils, both higher hazards that require in-rack sprinklers along with roof sprinklers.

Shambaugh used a crew of three to four sprinklerfitters on the job for six months, although they were not on that site continuously.

The early coordination allowed Shambaugh to fabricate 100% of the pipe in its 50,000-sq.ft. Ft. Wayne, Ind., fabrication facility. The state-of-the-art shop has computerized automated welding equipment. A 21-ft. length of pipe comes through the machine, a hole is burned for an outlet, and a pipe-o-let or weld-o-let is automatically welded in place.

“It takes 12 seconds to make a ¾-in. outlet,” Vincent says.

The shop carefully tracks how it bundles the lines, how many lines per bundle and how much scrap they produce.

Performs all functions

“The one thing that makes us different is that we self-perform every aspect of the job,” Vincent says.

That includes design, fabrication, engineering, installation crews and trucking to the site. They install the lineal heat detection wire themselves. Shambaugh has its own fleet of semis and drivers, and ships 600,000-lbs. of material out of Ft. Wayne each week. The SYSCO job took two semi loads a week at 40,000-lbs. each.

Victaulic shipped grooved product, such as couplings and fittings, directly to the SYSCO site.

The project was run by general contractor BE&K. Other major subcontractors include Innovative Refrigeration, Advent Electric, Teachey Mechanical and, energy management consultant, Cascade Energy Engineering Inc.

Sysco sells, markets and distributes food products to restaurants, healthcare and educational facilities, lodging establishments and other customers that prepare meals away from home. Its more than 375,000 products also include equipment and supplies for the foodservice and hospitality industries. Sysco's distribution network employs nearly 51,000 associates who serve approximately 400,000 customers from 177 distribution locations.

SYSCO invested more than $34 million in the distribution facility that employs more than 300 people.

The new warehouse serves customers in eastern Tennessee and portions of Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia, the company said.

SYSCO's operation used all 44 acres the City of Knoxville owned in a business park and an adjacent 35 acres that had been owned by railroad Norfolk Southern.

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