Unmatched Expertise for Umoja Biopharma

Introduction

Kenny Electric’s collaboration with CRB and Umoja Biopharma on the lentiviral vector development and manufacturing facility project in Louisville, Colorado, exemplifies our commitment to safety, effective teamwork, and technical expertise. Kenny Electric has been on site since August 2021, when this state-of-the-art, 146,000-square-foot facility began construction. The meticulously designed and constructed building supports Umoja’s mission to utilize lentiviral vectors, biological tools engineered to deliver genetic material into cells. These vectors are employed for gene therapy to treat various diseases by directly targeting and modifying the affected cells within the patient’s body.

Safety is Paramount

Safety is the cornerstone of Kenny Electric. Our safety protocols are meticulously designed, continually reviewed, and rigorously enforced to ensure the well-being of everyone on the job. As we lead by example, our unwavering focus on safety became a powerful ripple effect on other tradespeople, which created a shared sense of responsibility and accountability, driving continuous improvement in safety standards across the project. We logged over 80,000 person-hours with 45 employees onsite with zero OSHA recordable incidents. We took the following steps to remain safety focused:

  • Daily morning all-hands safety meetings ensured everyone was aware of the potential hazards and safety protocols.
  • Daily pre-task planning (PTP) sessions to review safety protocols and discuss potential risks associated with their assigned tasks.
  • Weekly safety training sessions to equip all employees with the necessary knowledge and skills to handle various situations safely.
  • Weekly client safety walks so the team could promptly identify and address any safety concerns.
  • Weekly PPE checks.
  • Weekly regular lift and work area inspections to ensure compliance with safety standards.
  • Emphasized the importance of lockout/tagout (LOTO) procedures to prevent accidents during equipment maintenance or repair activities.

Kenny Electric empowers our employees by utilizing an online observation platform where employees can identify and report potential hazards, safety concerns, and positive behaviors on the job site. Throughout the project, over 2,000 safe and unsafe observations were submitted. To foster a safety culture, the project organized safety lunches that allowed our team members to discuss safety practices and share their experiences openly. We also held safety prize drawings and raffles to incentivize and acknowledge our employees’ commitment to safety, motivating them to maintain high safety standards.

Clean Construction in Sensitive Environment

When working in sensitive environments such as laboratories and clean rooms, Kenny Electric is known for its pristine conditions during construction. These environments often house sensitive equipment, materials, and processes that require strict control over potential contaminants. Here is how we maintain our reputation for clean construction work:

  • Pre-construction preparation: We take precautions to minimize airborne dust and particulates, which include sealing off HVAC systems and using tacky mats at entry points to capture debris from shoes.
  • Temporary barrier installation: We erect temporary barriers to separate the construction area from the rest of the facility when necessary to prevent cross-contamination between the construction site and the sensitive areas beyond the barriers.
  • Clean protocol: We follow strict protocols for entering and exiting the job site, including wearing designated clothing and using designated entry and exit points.
  • Protective gear: We wear appropriate protective equipment such as clean suits, booties, and gloves to minimize the risk of contamination from clothing, skin, and hair.
  • Proper waste disposal: We dispose of waste material and debris using designated containers and following the facility’s waste disposal guidelines to avoid contamination.
  • Inspections and cleaning routines: We conduct regular inspections during and after each construction phase, including vacuuming and wiping down surfaces with approved cleaning agents.

Installing Innovative Technologies

Gene therapy involves transmitting genetic material into a patient to change how the cell produces protein or proteins. These sophisticated procedures require equally advanced technological infrastructure, with electrical installation playing a pivotal role. Kenny’s electrical installation powers the state-of-the-art equipment and complex systems that make these therapies possible. To ensure a reliable and efficient electrical supply, Kenny installed 2 UPS (uninterrupted power supplies) to protect the intricate processes involved in cell manipulation and gene editing. Additionally, our team commissioned the following specialty equipment to support the facilities efforts:

  • Biosafety cabinets – enclosed workspaces that use laminar airflow to filter out fumes and contaminants.
  • Incubators – devices that provide an environment for growing and maintaining microbiological cultures and cell cultures. They regulate internal temperature, humidity, and carbon dioxide levels so cultures can thrive.
  • Refrigerators/Freezers – used to store various cell and gene cultures in continuously cold temperatures to be entirely safe and effective upon reinjection.
  • Centrifuges – a machine used to isolate strains of cells or DNA in cell and gene therapy processes.

Overcoming Obstacles with Expertise

Kenny Electric completed the revolutionary lentiviral vector development and manufacturing facility by connecting utility power to major power distribution and branch power. They installed lighting, security, two utility transformers, and emergency backup lighting. Utilizing their skills, problem-solving, and the latest technologies, they overcame the following:

  • BIM (Building Information Modeling) and CAD (Computer-Aided Design): Kenny Electric utilized BIM and CAD software to collaborate closely with other trades, such as mechanical, plumbing, and fire sprinkler contractors. This allows all parties to visualize accurate digital representations of the facility, enabling them to identify potential conflicts and optimize the design before construction begins, reducing the likelihood of costly changes and delays.
  • Schedule Compression Conflicts: The project’s tight timeline required Kenny Electric to work closely with other trades to ensure the timely completion of tasks without compromising on quality or safety.
  • Supply Chain Issues and Long Lead Times: The company faced significant supply chain issues. For example, a part for the main switchgear took over 16 months to receive, creating an unacceptable installation deadline. The team, however, responded creatively to mitigate these issues. They devised innovative solutions, including sourcing alternative suppliers, optimized inventory management, and maintaining open communication with stakeholders to adjust plans.
  • Expert know-how: Completing the expansive Umoja project demanded exceptional skills from our team – from the scale of the project to the intricate installations, the team tackled the following challenges with remarkable precision and professionalism:
    • Extensive wiring. A striking aspect of the project was installing 357,556 lbs of wire, a staggering length of 458.5 miles. This mammoth task wasn’t simply about laying wires; it demanded rigorous planning, precise execution, and a deep understanding of electrical systems.
    • Excavation. Another complex task was excavating and installing a 500-foot underground duct bank designed to protect the extensive wiring while keeping it organized. The duct bank required precise excavation, careful assembly, and strategic installation.
    • Rooftop installation. A significant portion included rooftop installation, requiring the team to work from a platform 35 feet off the ground.

Design-Build Support

Umoja was a fascinating example of the challenges and intricacies of real-time design evolution. Our team, a fusion of design and construction expertise, navigated through eight different design

iterations amidst ongoing construction, each demanding a thorough reevaluation and repricing. The project was a whirlwind of continuous activity, with construction operations humming in the background, adding another layer of complexity. The gear and lighting elements were a constantly moving target, requiring relentless revisions and continual updates to pricing and lead times recommendations. Lighting decisions were set into motion before order placement, yet the design concept was far from static. It morphed repeatedly during the manufacturing phase, keeping us on our toes.

For an intense span of over eighteen months, the lighting design remained a work in progress, neither fully crystallized nor wholly vetted. The following quote from Andy Lee, the Senior Facilities Manager of Umoja Biopharma, is a testament to the dynamics of design-build collaboration at the heart of this project. It underscores the immense contributions made by our team to propel Umoja forward:

“The UB One project [Umoja Biopharma, Phase 1] marks a significant milestone and inflection point for Umoja as an organization. The ambition, dedication, and effort required to accomplish this endeavor would not be feasible without the tremendous support provided by our trusted-trade partners, such as Kenny Electric. Navigating an unprecedented supply chain, Curtis Polenz and his team provided consistent support to identify creative solutions and mitigate material and hardware challenges. The deep commitment from the entire Kenny Electric team cannot be understated and has proven pivotal to Umoja’s success.”

Conclusion

Navigating the complexities of the large-scale project required more than mere technical ability; it called for innovation, collective responsibility, and an unwavering dedication to excellence. The successful execution of the Umoja Biopharma project marks a pivotal step forward in reshaping the landscape of immunotherapy. This achievement highlights the critical role of top-tier skills and stringent safety measures in attaining groundbreaking advancements in medical science. As we face the bright horizon of biopharma and gene therapy, we know Kenny Electric’s capabilities can surmount any challenge. We eagerly support Umoja’s endeavors and welcome future laboratory projects.

Recent Projects

  • 5555 Central

  • Genesis Alkali Expansion: A Testament to Dedication

  • Umoja Biopharma

  • HighPoint Warehouse