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Work underway on new Massey facility

Kim Stewart Oct 10
Work underway on new Massey facility
The Food Science Facility will be New Zealand’s largest agri-food innovation centre and comprises a 5000sqm building across three storeys.

National commercial construction company McMillan and Lockwood is continuing its long-standing relationship with Massey University’s Manawatu campus in Palmerston North, with the build of the new joint facility concept between AgResearch and Massey University, the $45 million Food Science Facility.

McMillan and Lockwood general manager Rob Pedersen says the company tendered for the project in August last year, then when the price came in over budget went through a process of value management engineering to find some ways to accelerate the construction programme and save some money.

McMillan and Lockwood was then awarded the project at the end of December, and started on site in February.

“One thing we’ve come up with, which is our own innovation, is opposed to using traditional propping materials for in situ concrete we’ve come up with a false work system which clips onto the main structure, rather than having props going to the ground floor. That will speed up construction and save some cost.”

Rob says McMillan and Lockwood was responsible for the construction of the majority of the Massey University’s Manawatu campus’s original structures in the 1970s and 1980s, and this new project, one of the largest undertaken in the region for many years, is a continuation of that long-standing involvement.

“It’s great to be back on site and we’re going well,” he says. “We’ve broken ground and we’re into building the first set of foundations.”

The unique facility will be New Zealand’s largest agri-food innovation centre and comprises a 5000sqm building across three storeys

. It will house a fully functional 500sqm pilot meat processing plant along with three wet and dry processing rooms, and a 500sqm dairy processing plant on the ground floor. Upstairs, new laboratories will update the existing facilities at AgResearch Ruakura.

Other facilities include an environmental test chamber, a level two physical containment laboratory, many chillers and freezers, and an extensive gantry rail system so carcases can be safely moved around the plant which has been designed to be able to de-fabricate deer, lamb, veal, and quartered beef carcases.

The building will draw together scientists from the AgResearch meat and dairy science teams with researchers from Massey University, the government-funded Centre of Research Excellence Riddet Institute and the Food Health and Nutrition team.

There will be more than 100 scientists working in the building, as well as Massey University staff and students. The Food Science Facility is one of 130-year-old McMillan and Lockwood’s largest ever projects, and Rob says it is using about a third of the company’s management resources.

“However we will need to complement our site staff when the project builds up so we are currently approaching our traditional labour supply companies to source additional carpentry labour,” he says.

“There is a lot of work in Palmerston North, everyone is busy, but we recently have carpenters coming back from working in Christchurch.

“What’s also affecting our labour market is the work in Wellington as a result of the Kaikoura earthquake and the construction industry demand that is occurring throughout the lower North Island.”

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