Full design delivery reduces risk for automotive R&D facilities
By Keith Vandenbussche
The automotive sector moves at a very rapid pace, so engineering designs for new facilities need to come quickly to meet manufacturers’ milestones for their production goals. This often results in utilizing the faster-to-market design/build project delivery method.
While all delivery methods have inherent risks and rewards depending on the type of building, owners of automotive research and development facilities need to be particularly vigilant about the unique risks that design/build can present. This is a due to the uniqueness, technical complexity, and customization that is inherent to R&D facilities – many of which have never been designed or priced before.
Many variables come into play for these one-of-a-kind projects. Owners need to ensure that their chosen delivery method results in a design that meets the predicted needs of the research and provides a controlled testing environment. In particular, the design for R&D facilities must:
- Provide the infrastructure to meet the needs of all spaces and equipment – dynamometers, labs, testing cells, etc.
- Meet the many environmental regulations that drive today’s automotive testing, including air emittance, fuel efficiency, and safety
- Be flexible and adaptable for future changes
Because of these factors, I recommend foregoing the fast-track design/build model in favor of having a full design prior to bidding. This allows all the variables at risk in these facilities to be greatly reduced and the project to be safe to price. If an owner does take the chance to price early, a strong contingency should be added for the uniqueness of the design.