IBM's Big Building, Little Chips

Perreca Electric works in growing data market:

IBM has a lengthy history in the research, development and production of enhanced technology; one of its shining stars, from a manufacturing perspective, is its 300 mm facility located in Fishkill, NY. The plant specializes in the production of the 300 mm wafer-size base unit for chip making. Touted as the world’s most technologically advanced chip-producing facility, the Fishkill location is part of New York City’s “Silicon Alley” and as such, has brought attention to New York as one of the new leaders in housing and supporting technology businesses.

The main plant opened in the 1950s. The first 300 mm chip facility opened in 2003 with a $2.5 billion price tag. With its success came the need for further expansion into the new facility annex, called Building 323A. The new addition is another 300 mm plant and is an extension of IBM’s existing 300 mm facility, sometimes referred to as a next-generation chip plant. Expanding the original 300 mm wafer fabrication facility had been in discussion for some time. The initial goal was to expand the size by about 50 percent, in the form of an addition of a 270,000-square-foot annex to Building 323.

Getting the aggressive project up and running required skilled contractors, and that is where Perreca Electric Co. Inc., Newburgh, N.Y., stepped in. Perreca Electric’s corporate offices are only a few miles from the IBM facility—a bonus as it took on the bid process and needed to work closely with the building owner and other responsible parties.

Perreca Electric was founded in 1949 by Joe Perreca and sold to Charles Tallardy in 1983, who remains the owner and president.

The company has been regarded as a professional, mid-sized contractor who simply evolved over time into a large contractor, said Robert Kaehler, executive vice president, adding that being on the right track has helped the company grow. In the 1980s, the company expanded its core of operation by adding telecommunications and data work, becoming a turnkey contractor. Currently, to keep up with demands, Perreca Electric employs 11 project managers and a full-time safety director, in addition to its electrical contractors and technicians.

In 1997, Kaehler was charged with starting and overseeing the new Major Account Division within the company.

“This new division had a goal of targeting the large project market the out-of-town contractors would normally come in and do. Results were good. In 1999, Perreca was contracted by Clayco Construction from St. Louis to wire the new 2.4 million-square-foot Gap/Old Navy distribution center in Fishkill. That was the catalyst to a $57 million contract with Whiting-Turner Contracting Co. in 2001 for a new 735,000-square-foot chip fabrication facility at the IBM East Fishkill site. From there, we advanced into this 270,000-square-foot annex addition to this same building.”

Mastering the market
The annex brings the total square footage of the 300 mm chip fabrication facility to 1 million, making it the largest of its kind in the country. Even more impressive than sheer size was the aggressive schedule handed to Perreca Electric, which worked on the project between Jan. 1 and Nov. 1, 2005.

“It was fast-track, only an eight-month project,” Kaehler said. “The project required two project managers, one superintendent, three general foremen, 10 foremen and also a full-time office manager and purchasing agent/expediter on-site. The peak manpower was 104 electricians.”

Perreca Electric played a major role in just about every system required for the operation of the high IBM 323A. Because chip manufacturing is serious business, most facilities such as this one have state-of-the-art security systems to make sure that intellectual property, along with physical property, is safe and secure.

The security system that Perreca Electric installed was a GE Micro/5 card access reader system with American Dynamics and Pelco cameras. The system cost $1 million and required 8,000 man-hours to complete. The system required five access door controllers, a door-monitoring panel, 18 power supplies and closed-circuit television surveillance (CCTV) fiber distribution unit. Some 18,000 feet of conduit and 120,000 feet of Belden cable completed the installation. In total, there were 50 card access readers, 22 door alarms and 12 cameras installed.

The fire alarm system was an ADT 2020 with 10 Unimode XP series transponders and a network-controlled VESDA system. The system was designed by IDC of Pittsburgh and the company worked closely with Lee Carver of ADT to complete the installation. The system cost $2.5 million and it required 20,000 man-hours to complete. This one system alone required 40,000 feet of conduit, 75,000 feet of fire alarm cable, 350 notification devices and 300 field devices to complete the installation. Network-controlled detection systems were also installed in the fabrication area and in the perimeter locations where standard smoke detection was not feasible.

The public address system was an IED 8001 supervised system, also designed by IDC. Perreca worked closely with Mike Donnelly of Dutchess Tel Audio to complete the installation. The system cost $600,000 and required 5,000 man-hours to complete, 18,000 feet of conduit and 31,000 feet of speaker cable. There were 10 Dukane power amplifiers, two Crown power amplifiers, one IED 8001 supervisory system, three Biamp channel mixers and 350 Atlas Sound compression driver speakers installed.

The telecommunications system was a backbone fiber installation to tie into the existing campus. Two network equipment rooms were built and three network communications racks were provided. Horizontal Category 6 structured cabling pathways were provided between voice data outlets and the network equipment rooms. Ethernet cabling and consolidation boxes were provided for programmable logic controllers (PLC) and view nodes for startup and testing of building equipment. The system was designed by IDC and Perreca Electric worked closely with Joe Pesko of Benfield Data Communications on its parameters.

The telecommunications system cost $3.2 million and required 26,000 man-hours to complete. The system also required 22,000 feet of conduit, 5,000 feet of cable tray, 450,000 feet of Mohawk Category 6 cable, 5,000 feet of Maxcell inner duct and 15,000 feet of Mohawk loose tube fiber distribution cable. There were 60 Siemon fiber distribution panels, 112 Siemon Category 6 patch panels, 3,200 fiber terminations and 38 consolidation boxes.

The chemical and gas systems consisted of Ethernet connection panels for the gas management system, installation of power and emergency shutdown wiring between bulk gas storage and chemical/gas cabinets, heat tracing of bulk gas systems, alarms for leak detection and exhaust flow. Designed by IDC, Perreca Electric worked in conjunction with Dave Kelton of the IBM Gas Group to complete this portion of the work. The chemical and gas systems cost $1.1 million and required 12,000 man-hours to complete. The system required 22,000 feet of conduit, 18,000 feet of Category 6 and 20,000 feet of Belden cable.

The instruments and controls for the building consisted of environmental controls to support clean areas. There was a fiber network from the adjacent building. A mod bus plus network was installed to each PLC in the building. Input/output devices were wired from each PLC. The system was designed by IDC and Perreca Electric worked closely with Mike Malavenda of Malcon to complete the system. The system cost $1.7 million and required 15,000 man-hours to complete. It required 700 feet of Mohawk loose tube multimode fiber, 39,000 feet of conduit, 44,000 feet of Belden cable and 158,000 feet of THHN cable. There were 41 PLCs installed and more than 900 I/O points configured. Kaehler attributed much of the success of this project to the way in which the companies approached the mammoth contract.

“It took a dedicated team to pull it off. Headed up by project managers William Glennon and George Collishaw, the entire Perreca Electric team was able to work together and make this project a success.” Whiting-Turner agreed that Perreca Electric was instrumental and an above-par performer. According to Erik Healy, Whiting-Turner senior project manager, “Perreca is a leader in their field and always goes the extra mile to keep themselves a cut above their competition.”

In 2002, after the completion of the first IBM 300 mm (building 323), Perreca Electric received the Building Excellence Recognition Award from Whiting-Turner. In December 2005, IBM Building 323 was honored as the 2005 winner of Semiconductor International’s Top Fab of the Year.

The final result is a facility that still receives praise and press for being a premier semiconductor manufacturing location, one that truly is state of the art. And in the end, teamwork made it all come together.    

STONG-MICHAS, a freelance writer, lives in central Pennsylvania. She can be reached via e-mail at

IBM Corp.—Owner
Perreca Electric—Lead systems and electrical contractor
The Whiting-Turner Contracting Co.—Construction manager
IDC—Architect and electrical engineer
Benfield Data Communications—Datacom
Dutchess Tel Audio—Communications contractor
IBM Gas Group—Gas supply and supervision
Malcon—Environmental controls

ADT—Fire alarm system
American Dynamics—Cameras
Atlas Sound—Compression driver speakers
Crown—Power amplifiers
Dukane—Communications systems amplifiers
GE—Card access system
Mohawk—Fiber optic cable
Siemon—Patch panels and equipment




About the Author

Jennifer Leah Stong-Michas

Freelance Writer
Jennifer Leah Stong-Michas is a freelance writer who lives in central Pennsylvania.

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