Engineering Savings – A Case Study


Consulting with an engineering firm at the outset of a manufacturing expansion or renovation project can have significant benefits for a manufacturing client. In fact, one of our recent clients had already started working with a design firm when they hired us, and their experience illustrates our point well.

SPEC was hired to act as a project manager during the preliminary phase of a consolidation project. The client had already selected a building the company owned for the relocation. They had also hired a design firm that they had worked with in the past to estimate the cost to retrofit the building. However, because the quote for renovating their own building was so high, the client, instead, considered leasing and renovating another building to ease the capital expenditure of the project.

While acting as project manager, SPEC became familiar with the client’s existing building and realized its potential. After doing some quick “back-of-napkin” calculations, and now being familiar with the client’s technology and facilities requirements, SPEC provided a quote for almost half of the design firm’s original budget.  When the client’s management expressed interest in SPEC’s alternative, we then provided a full budget with real quotes and back up documentation to support our original estimate. Not only saving the client money but letting them maintain ownership of the renovations they would have put into the leased building otherwise.

Most of the savings came from several line items that, upon closer inspection, were not necessary, or had less expensive alternatives.  SPEC’s experience as a design/builder of manufacturing facilities allowed us to better evaluate these line items and eventually save the client money. Below are a few of the cost savings we identified:

  • Initially thought to need re-piping, the sprinkler system only needed additional sprinkler heads, saving the client 51% on fire protection
  • Instead of replacing the HVAC system, SPEC determined the client could safely use the existing HVAC system and replace units as needed, saving the client 53% on the HVAC system
  • The design firm had originally included a new roof, due to leaking, but after a further inspection the leaking was not caused by the roof and, therefore, did not need to be replaced
  • Eliminating the drop-ceiling design over the manufacturing area saved the client 54%
  • A mezzanine that had been included in the original design and budget because it existed in one of the client’s other smaller buildings was found to be unnecessary in the new space and was removed from the design.

So, in addition to understanding which building design elements are important to an industrial process, engineering firms can often help companies save money on new facility construction and renovation by determining critical and non-critical building issues.   And while many manufacturing clients consider engineering to be the second phase of a project, engineering firms can be brought on board at any point and even partner with the design firm to ensure all the important process issues are addressed early on.


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