Food Engineering

Neither rain, nor snow, nor...

April 6, 2004
Connecticut's most brutal winter in memory was a constant threat to derail the scheduled completion of Pepperidge Farm's Bloomfield, Conn., project.

There are no slow-track projects in today's food industry. But Connecticut's most brutal winter in memory was a constant threat to derail the scheduled completion of Pepperidge Farm's Bloomfield, Conn., project.

Winter arrived early in 2002, with flakes flying in November. By the time April ended, 86 inches had blanketed the greater Hartford area. Add to that bitterly cold temperatures and stinging winds, and the job seemed more endurance contest than construction project. As Pepperidge's corporate manager of facilities engineering and services, it was Kirk Ringkamp's responsibility to coordinate the efforts of Suitt Construction and the Facility Group and ensure the 12-month project was completed in time and on budget.

"I don't think I've ever been so cold," Ringkamp remembers. "We haven't had a winter that bad in 10 years. Severe temperatures forced us to erect a tent and heat it for some of the brick work."

Construction proceeded from the receiving dock on the east end to shipping on the west. As each area was completed, equipment installation under the direction of Project Manager R. Glenn Wright commenced.

Halfway into the project, the decision was made to scrap an internal Freon chiller room in favor of an outside ammonia-based system. "Unfortunately, we had to design it on the fly and complete construction in under 11 weeks," says Ringkamp. "The crew from Tucker Mechanical was out there in freezing temperatures, breaking through 4 feet of frozen dirt.

"It took a lot of diligence to make people realize that the schedule was real," he says. "We had a fantastic team, both with Pepperidge personnel and the site team, in particular Tommy Morrow from Suitt. Township officials were almost partners with us in getting it done. There was never a doubt we'd make it"-though many a sleepless night, he concedes.

The effort netted a special Pepperidge Farm President's Award in August for both Ringkamp and Wright. The project's operations and engineering startup team was honored with a Campbell Soup Proud Performance Award in October.