Many Heads Are Better Than One: Battaglia Electric delivers results for a Delaware hospital

By Claire Swedberg | Mar 15, 2020
Photos courtesy of battaglia electric






Bayhealth Hospital’s Sussex Campus opened its doors to patients in 2019 as the first newly constructed Delaware hospital in decades. The building rose over the course of several years in what had been a farm field. The $330 million Milford healthcare center was also the state’s first integrated project delivery (IPD) construction, meaning it was planned, designed and built as a collaboration between a building team of the owner, architect, engineers and general and subcontractors.

Development for the seven-story facility began in 2015 while construction took place over 24 months. Battaglia Electric Inc. delivered the electrical and low-voltage installation in collaboration with general contractor Whiting-Turner and engineering and architecture firm Cannon Design.

Although the hospital had previously expanded and renovated, this latest project involved an additional, freestanding facility, said Joe Zalewski, Battaglia Electric supervisor.

“This was the first brand-new, out-of-the-ground hospital in the state of Delaware in more than 50 years,” he said.

Battaglia Electric has been installing large commercial electrical systems since 1981, working for data centers, hospitality, industrial and healthcare environments. At its New Castle, Del., location, the contractor has a 17,000-square-foot prefabrication facility and provides electrical construction in Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Battaglia Integrated Technologies is its low-voltage division.

For the Bayhealth project, Battaglia provided 16 managers on-site, including three project managers, two general foremen and 11 foremen. At peak, 120 electricians and technicians were working on-site. While Battaglia Electric installed all the electrical service and systems in the building, Battaglia Integrated Technologies provided the datacom system, card access and surveillance cameras, nurse call, area of refuge (emergency calling), distributed antenna and 800 megahertz systems. The entire electrical budget was $38 million.

Team building

Battaglia Electric team on-site

The project was designed with collaboration in mind. IPD jobs bring the entire building team to the table, rather than putting the GC front and center. And instead of focusing on individual parts of a project, the participants planned around the whole process, which reduced waste in design and required fewer change orders.

The Bayhealth contract was a tri-party agreement between architect and engineering, construction manager and owner, and 11 trade partners, including Battaglia.

“We all signed the same contract,” Zalewski said.

The company wasn’t just providing the electrical scope, he said; they would participate as a member in the entire project.

As a result, “Our efforts as an active and participating trade partner helped keep the project under budget and on-time,” he said.

IPD was a very new experience for most of the participants, said Robert Garra, Cannon Design’s engineering director.

“The whole mantra was about doing what’s best for the project, not just what’s best for the individual entities,” Garra said.

Throughout the design phase, the entire construction team met in one large room and several separate conference rooms for three days a week, every other week. Seven project implementation teams (PITs) met to identify key individual issues that needed addressing, and, at the end of the day, PITs delivered a report, including any challenges they were facing, to the entire team.

The company installed two 2,500-kW generators on the central utility plant roof.

“By working closely before reaching the construction site, the design and build teams established relationships very early on,” Garra said. “In traditional projects, you don’t make those connections until after the construction is underway.”

Preconstruction planning led to a variety of cost and time-saving solutions as well as some that improved the safety of the workers on-site. For example, when Battaglia Electric constructed a new substation 3,000 feet from hospital, the IPD process brought multiple parties into the conversation about conduit trench work. Traditionally, such a project might have required that Battaglia Electric hire an excavator to dig the conduit trenches, but, in this case, the team generated some new ideas.

“The site contractor said, ‘We have all our equipment here so we could just dig it,’” Garra said, adding that this saved time and money.

The company installed two 2,500-kW generators on the central utility plant roof.

“They got that duct bank in very quickly,” he said.

In fact, the hospital’s overall schedule was condensed, but teamwork helped meet the deadline. It also saved costs, Garra said.

The team also planned the on-site temporary warehousing for materials as they were needed, and Battaglia Electric was able to enter into a 400,000-pound copper contract that saved costs because copper prices escalate over the life of the project. Throughout the job, the team operated with the mantra of doing what’s best for the project and not for individual entities, Garra said.

BIM design

Switch yard wire at the Bayhealth construction site.

The project also featured a building information modeling (BIM) design. With the help of Trimble RTS, Battaglia Electric was able to efficiently plan, design, construct and manage the project’s prefabrication, off-site and on-site. With BIM, Zalewski said, Battaglia Electric mapped out the exact installation location for more than 10,000 points for conduit sleeves and concrete inserts, so workers didn’t have to measure by hand. They could build trapeze racks off-site and directly install them in the concrete inserts without drilling the concrete.

Scope of work

When finished, Battaglia Electric had installed more than a half mile of 33-kilovolt (kV) and 12-kV service-feeder cables from the outdoor substation, which is in addition to fiber optic and control cables through prefabricated duct banks and manholes.

They installed a double-ended, 12-kV, service switchgear lineup and a 4,160V paralleling emergency power switchgear lineup, both from Eaton. Battaglia Electric installed four 480V, double-ended, switchgear lineups. They provided the two 2,500 kilowatt (kW), 4,160V Caterpillar generators that were lifted by a crane and installed on the roof of the hospital’s two-story central utility plant. For these generators, Battaglia Electric also installed 13 automatic transfer switches and two manual transfer switches.

Altogether, the electrical contractor provided 45 integrated facility system (IFS) units from Eaton. With those units, Battaglia Electric built the combined switchboard panelboards and transformers into a single, space-saving, factory-assembled product that was customized to the project’s specific needs. That preassembly process saved the construction site valuable space.

“The use of IFS units allowed for ease of layout and installation of a total 199 panelboards,” Zalewski said.

Battaglia Electric additionally installed a UPS system with two 130 kVA/480V primary/208V secondary service, which included smaller UPS systems in specific intermediate distribution frame (IDF) rooms, according to the project design.

The mechanical system skids and the prefabricated mechanical systems, including all variable frequency drives, were all installed by Battaglia Electric.

The electrical contractor completed the interior and exterior installation and ran lighting for the helipad on the hospital roof and exterior architectural lighting.

Throughout the facility, the lighting has multiple control systems. Battaglia Electric installed a single control system specific to each area of the facility, so the hospital could manage lighting and the energy consumption associated with it.

The company installed all emergency and normal power distribution and branch cabling as well as the nurse call, fire alarm and distributed antenna systems for three cellular providers. The company ran cable to provide the 800-megahertz emergency responder radio system.

Battaglia installed data racks in 13 IDF rooms.

Low-voltage work also included the security, video surveillance and card access to manage who enters and leaves the hospital through any door, as accessing stairs and elevators. They provided the gas system distribution and monitoring, leak detection systems and powered the data center (with 14 IDFs) and the DAS equipment room.

Altogether, the company ran 2.1 million feet of Cat 6 and Cat 6A cable, 40,000 feet of single and multimode fiber optic cable, installed various radiology equipment, and powered 11 elevators.

There were a few other challenges on-site for the contractors to meet owner expectations. For one thing, Bayhealth and the state of Delaware strongly urged contractors to use at least 50% local Delaware workers, with 20% diversity in the workforce. They were advised to purchase the bulk of their materials within the state. Battaglia Electric exceeded these goals because the management team consisted of 100% Delaware residents, including a female project manager and shop steward and two minority foremen.

“Our field installation team was made up of over 80% Delaware residents, including six women and 18 minorities,” Zalewski said. “And nearly 100% of purchases were made through Delaware businesses.”

Battaglia Electric and Battaglia Integrated Technologies completed 250,000 hours on-site with zero lost hours and a 100% safety record, Zalewski said.

The finished hospital offers 132 private beds, 82-bed emergency department and seven operating rooms and post-op bays. The stand-alone data center and utility plant ensure the hospital is running properly, while a four-story ambulatory and cancer care center also serves community patients.

The building’s steel fabrication was completed with a topping out ceremony, which harkened back to an ancient Scandinavian builders’ rite held when the highest beam is fastened on top of the structure. Members of the community, patients, physicians, employees and donors signed the ceremonial beam that measured 13 feet. When Bayhealth was completed, the old hospital closed and patients moved to the new state-of-the-art facility within a matter of days.

“It was truly a great experience,” Garra said. “We had the opportunity to create something special for the community.”

About The Author

SWEDBERG is a freelance writer based in western Washington. She can be reached at [email protected].





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