Curiously Strong Contracting

as the world’s largest manufacturer of chewing and bubble gum, the Wrigley Co., Chicago, has some of the best-known brands in a diverse portfolio of innovative products. The company, which has been traded publicly since 1923, has been run by four generations of Wrigleys since its founding in 1891. With annual sales of more than

$4 billion, Wrigley products are part of everyday life in more than 180 countries.

In September 2006, the current chairman, president and chief executive officer of the company, Bill Wrigley Jr., marked the official opening of the Wrigley Global Innovation Center (GIC) on the northern tip of Chicago’s Goose Island. The $45 million, 153,000-square-foot office and lab complex houses the company’s research and development, packaging, engineering, regulatory and quality-control departments and serves as the nerve center of the global confectioner’s commitment to innovate, diversify and meet the needs of future generations of consumers. Immediately adjacent to the GIC is Wrigley’s 40,000-square-foot pilot plant, which enables the company to scale up from lab-size batches to commercial production of new products.

The GIC features building-wide wireless connectivity, a global electronic conference room, hotel space scheduling and open-plan labs. Office and lab wings are organized around a three-story Winter Garden topped by a German-designed, tension-cabled glass ceiling that is the only one of its kind in North America.

The general contractor, Power Construction, Schaumburg, Ill., began construction in October 2004. On its list of qualified bidders for the structured cabling and security systems was Continental Electrical Construction Co., headquartered in Skokie, Ill.

“Our previous work over the past 13 years at other Wrigley facilities and our 30-year partnership with Power Construction on projects in the hospital, commercial, financial, manufacturing, research and stadium markets gave us the opportunity to submit a bid for this state-of-the-art facility,” said David Witz, Continental’s president.

Fine-tuned installation

Although award of the structured cabling portion of the project was price-driven by the general contractor and owner’s representative, Continental also won the security systems contract through value engineering and its design/assist capabilities.

“We provided a more cost-effective solution than the original design or the competition,” said Bruce Harris, director, special systems division. However, the company also credits its long-term relationships with the rest of the construction team, including the construction manager, The Rise Group, Environmental Systems Design Inc., and the facility’s architect, Hellmuth Obata & Kassabaum Inc., for its being awarded the $1.23 million structured cabling and security system contracts.

“We had previously demonstrated to everyone on the construction team our ability to provide better solutions at more cost-effective prices,” said Harris.

Chip Weir, senior project manager for The Rise Group agreed with Continental’s assessment. “Continental was ultimately chosen for this project because of the company’s proven track record in the industry and with Wrigley and because if offered the most competitive price with the greatest value.”

The facility’s overall layout was designed to facilitate communication and sharing among research and development and other related teams. Such openness required vertical- and horizontal-structured cabling backbones for the highest levels of data connectivity. Consisting of fiber optic cabling for the data, coaxial cabling for the television and camera systems, shielded high-pair count riser cable for voice and Category 6 cabling for the security system, the backbone was brought into the GIC from the data center located in the adjacent pilot plant. Cabling then was run to six intermediate distribution frames (IDF) before being delivered to owner-provided equipment. Continental also installed Category 6 horizontal station cable to 575 workstation drops equipped with three-cable outlets for voice and data.

“The structured cabling system is a distributed network, which means that every closet has its own network switch,” said Mike Murphy, project manager for structured cabling. Every drop, therefore, is run to a closet, and all of the closets are all tied together with fiber optic cabling.

Continental also installed redundant backbone cabling to each of the IDF closets. The IDF closets were connected horizontally and vertically with additional multimode and single-mode fiber and Category 6 backbone cable, providing a secondary link in case of an unforeseen failure. The entire structured cabling project, according to Murphy, was a Commscope Systimax-certified solution.

Because the GIC is a research facility, Wrigley required a state-of-the-art security system to protect its new product ideas and manufacturing methods. Continental was responsible for installing 64 high-resolution, closed-circuit television surveillance color cameras for indoor and outdoor surveillance.

“Many of the exterior cameras chosen were pan-tilt-zoom, which are wired to and terminated at the constantly manned security operations center,” said Jerry Seiling, senior project manger for the security installation.

The system is designed in a star arrangement, just like the structured cabling system, and uses unshielded twisted pair cabling for wiring the cameras to the closest IDF closet. A stand-alone infrastructure network connected to the main distribution frame closet and then patched into the security operations center completes the system.

Also included in the security installation were four digital recorders in the environmentally controlled operations room, capable of recording the activity from 16 cameras. A matrix switcher provides viewing flexibility on the several 19-inch and the one 42-inch, wall-mounted plasma monitors, part of the custom-designed security console.

Scalable system

The access control system installed by Continental includes 70 card readers and an enterprise-level software platform that will enable Wrigley to add an unlimited number of devices. In addition, there are five emergency call stations located throughout the campus that provide hands-free operation for two-way communication and to sound a distress alarm.

“The cameras, access control devices and emergency call units are integrated together to enable security personnel to view activity in case of unauthorized entry or if an emergency call station is activated,” Seiling said.

Continental faced a construction timetable that was longer than typical for the size of the project, according to Pete Archacki, director of structured cable systems.

“The amount of steel work involved in the building and its special architectural features created increased lead times for material and an elongated schedule,” Seiling said. That meant the structured cabling and security installation schedule was compressed toward the end of the project, after building construction was complete.

There really was one way for the company to overcome the problem, which it did by using additional manpower, working overtime and meeting regularly with the rest of the construction team and owner to refine schedule requirements. In addition, Continental could not begin work until several months into the project, after the on-site electrical contractor, G&M Electrical Contractors Co. Inc., Chicago, had already installed the conduit system.

“This late start required us to redesign the backbone infrastructure to conform to the conduit runs,” Murphy said.

Chicago being Chicago, winter weather was another challenging factor of the project. Goose Island is, of course, on the river, which meant ensuring the crew had the necessary clothing to stay warm, access to heat and sufficient breaks to enable them to work under such adverse conditions.

“When necessary,” said Archacki,” additional crews were added to ensure the installation stayed on track.”

According to Witz, Wrigley was so pleased with the outcome at the GIC that the company awarded two other similar projects in the Chicago area to Continental. Other team members, such as The Rise Group, also were pleased with Continental’s performance. According to Weir, Continental carried out the project as required, meeting both financial and schedule goals.

“Continental addressed issues proactively and provided value engineering services that allowed Wrigley to cost-effectively fulfill its goals with the best technology available,” he said.

BREMER, a freelance writer based in Solomons, Md., contributes frequently to ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR. She can be reached at 410.394.6966 or by e-mail at





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