Concrete underground

We always aim to be on schedule

Kris Ulens, operations director

The formal handover of an industrial building always makes us happy at ILD. But the new warehouse for logistics service provider GLS in Czech Pardubice makes us extra happy. Obtaining the permits, building, finishing and handing over an 11,600-m2 warehouse within a period of 9 months: our well-oiled team got the job done, though it was not easy. But having to deal with old foundations underground was an unexpected hitch.

You could consider ILD as trouble shooters. We are more than a contractor. We design a logistics building tailored to the customer and we also handle the rest of the project, from obtaining permits to handover of the turnkey building. We are extremely flexible in what we offer. The customer can choose to buy or to take advantage of various leasing arrangements.

As a customer, you for example could ask us to develop a project in a particular region. We will then search for possible land for the project and make a proposal. The search for a suitable site is part of the construction project: here again we can handle everything for the customer, including financing. But as customer, you could also ask us to develop a project on land you already have available.

That was the request of MPU, a Czech investment company. The situation was the following… MPU had a building site and a tenant for the warehouse to be built on that site. The site was a brownfield. The demands in terms of facilities and quality were high. Based on the wish list and our logistics studies, we designed an 11,600 m2-warehouse, 12 meters high with 8 loading docks. And progress had to be quick. The contract was signed around Christmas 2015. The first trucks were expected at the loading docks at the end of September 2016.

The Czech Republic has a strict permit procedure. Unlike other countries where a building permit can be issued on the basis of an urban planning analysis for the project, the Czech administration goes into great detail. The building permit and operating license are treated as a single package. This means that all the technology used and installed is part of the building permit application.  Our experts know this too. But this meant that we could only start construction in April.

And then there was the underground. A brownfield development is always a bit of a jump into the unknown. You indeed conduct the necessary preparatory tests. But the situation underground only really becomes clear when you start to excavate. And in this case it turned out to be strewn meters deep with old concrete foundations. We had expected to excavate a quantity of concrete. But we had not counted on 8,000 tonnes of reinforced basement and foundation concrete. And the timing was tight.

‘8,000 tonnes of reinforced basement and foundation concrete. This was unexpected. And the timing was tight.’

What do you do then? The answer is to move quickly and adapt. It took us three full weeks to dig up all the concrete. All the excavated concrete was processed at the construction site itself and re-used to stabilise the underground.

Three weeks extra work for five months of construction: this has consequences. We had good reason to say to the customer, ‘Sorry, we need an extra month’. But we didn’t. Every construction project makes for surprises. But we make it a point to minimise the impact to the customer. That’s part of our job. We simply made up the three-week delay, among others by working weekends. It was hard work, for our team as well as the contractor, but we did it. Which is why we at ILD only work with the best contractors. In the meantime, GLS trucks are coming and going.

‘We had good reason to say, ‘Sorry, we need an extra month’. But we didn’t.’

Back to stories