Smooth operation at hi-tech medical facility
The world-class Cook Medical Australia medical facility, constructed by Graystone at Brisbane Technology Park, is proof that a sophisticated building can function with minimal pain to the management team. BRUCE LOXTON from Graystone reflects on one of the company’s most successful construction projects. (Photo courtesy Mark Carleton.)
In 2007 Cook Medical Australia and Graystone embarked on a new venture to build a $21 million world-class medical research and manufacturing facility in the heart of Brisbane Technology Park (BTP) at Eight Mile Plains, Queensland.
Brisbane Technology Park is widely recognised as Queensland’s premier technology park and it is home to a number of high-profile companies in the health and medical sector. Cook is one such company, an occupant of BTP since 1989, a global success story and a market leader in the R&D and manufacture of medical devices.
Cook specialises in the design and manufacture of medical devices, one of which is endovascular grafts, which are used for the treatment of aortic aneurysms. Approximately 80 percent of patients can be treated with off the shelf products that Cook manufactures in a range of standard sizes; the company also specialises in patient-specific, custom-made devices.
Cook has also been a leader in IVF technologies since the 1980s and is one of the few global companies to manufacture and supply the complete range of devices and IVF solutions that comprise the IVF product chain.
The relationship with Graystone dates back to 2006, when an agreement was put in place for Graystone to purchase Cook’s existing building on a 1.8ha site at BTP. This transaction occurred in 2008 and Graystone has since transformed 2000 square metres of Cook’s historic laboratory facility into an impressive commercial office and technical space.
Planning for the new facility commenced early in 2006 and Cook engaged Graystone to undertake the design and construction of the project later that year. The initial design process took approximately 12 months and construction started in September 2007. While there were a number of challenges along the way, Graystone delivered ‘practical completion’ in March 2009 and the facility opened its doors soon afterwards.
RELOCATON IN STAGES
Cook transitioned their relocation to the new facility over a three-month period, allowing for clean room validation and subsequent inspections by the TGA (Therapeutic Goods Administration) and their CE mark certified body, before full occupation could occur. During this time Cook continued to operate out of their original facility.
Now, twelve months after opening, operations at Cook couldn’t be smoother. Cook Medical Australia’s facilities manager, Mark Carleton, who was on Cook’s building project team and is responsible for the day-to-day maintenance and production engineering of the facility, says, “It’s turned out to be a great installation and a great place to work. As a manufacturing facility, which is really its primary purpose, we have a standout clean room. Cook’s philosophy has always been, ‘if you’re going to do something, then do it well,’ and the new facility embodies this philosophy”.
WORKING WITH THE FM TEAM
Graystone worked closely with the Cook facilities management team during the design process to ensure that this world–class and complex building would meet the highest standards of safety and cleanliness. Clean rooms are rated on air tests, which determine the number of suspended particles and the particle sizes. The Cook clean rooms, which cover an area of more than 1400 square meters, were designed with pressurised HEPA (high efficiency particulate absorbing) filter air flow systems to maintain the required cleanliness of the air at all times. The volume of the air in the room creates sufficient pressure so that when a door is opened the clean air under pressure keeps dust and unwanted particles out. The placement of the filters, the number of air changes, the flow path of air leaving the room and then re-entering the room after filtration, were some of the critical variables to assess during the design process.
Trafficable ceilings were another challenge during design and construction. The costs associated with this ceiling were offset by the ongoing maintenance benefits. The clean rooms do not need to be shut down while routine repairs are carried out. The requirements of the clean room in terms of power, compressed air, vacuum and data are all addressed and maintained from the trafficable ceiling. If a fluorescent tube needs replacing, then it is done from above the clean room so as the integrity of the clean room is not compromised.
“The trafficable ceiling basically provides a service grid on the ceiling area, allowing us to drop service poles down on a three-metre grid,” Carleton explains. “As our layout changes – and to accommodate any future movements – it is very easy for us to bring services down from dedicated purpose-built service columns that we suspend from the ceiling. The columns don’t touch the floor, which makes cleaning much easier.”
The clean room has a number of other features, including flush walls that are easy to clean and create less opportunity for pockets of ‘dead air’. The vinyl on the floor is colour-coded to identify the levels of cleanliness within that zone of the clean room. Automatic doors and infrared sensor hand taps minimise the transfer of germs that could potentially be carried into the clean room. Windows are fitted with little or no ledge surfaces to minimise dust collection.
The defects liability period for the project expired in mid-March 2010.
For the size and complexity of the project, a defects list of 30 items with a rectification cost in the order of $5000 is an impressive achievement for the design and construction team.
Bruce Loxton, Graystone’s general manager – project delivery, has over 20 years experience in the design and delivery of complex technical facilities and commercial offices. He has been the general manager of construction for Graystone since 2006.
Graystone has been developing customised science and technology real estate since 1989. This landmark Cook Medical Australia construction reflects a tremendous confidence in Queensland’s real estate industry to deliver a world-class development.