Demo on ’Aggressive’ Schedule to Stay Well Ahead of Construction

Fri January 19, 2007 - Southeast Edition
Gwenyth Laird Pernie

With the downfall of the North Carolina textile industry, it was only a matter of time before the structures that housed one of its major players soon followed.

LaBounty UP 20 universal processors mounted to excavators tore down the brick walls and pulverized the concrete of the massive Fieldcrest Cannon/Pillowtex Plant in Kannapolis, N.C.

Current owner of the Pillowtex property, David Murdock, hired D.H. Griffin Wrecking Company of Greensboro, N.C., (the nation’s second-largest demolition company) to provide abatement and demolition of the former textile mill. Griffin’s responsibilities included all the demolition and site work — grading, utilities and infrastructure work, electrical, and water and sewer.

According to David Griffin Jr., vice president of D.H. Griffin Wrecking Company, work to demolish the old facility, which consisted of over 30 buildings (a total of 5.7 million sq. ft. — roughly the size of the Pentagon or 95 football fields) began in June 2005 and has often required 200 employees working 10 hours a day, six days a week.

“The Pillowtex plant is the second-largest job our firm has managed; the World Trade Center site, which covered 1.7 million tons of material, was our biggest,” Griffin said.

Prior to demolition, asbestos abatement was required for the majority of buildings. Demolition of the facility was accomplished both manually and with explosives.

Big Job Requires Big Fleet

According to Griffin, more than $30 million worth of equipment was at the job site daily — approximately 50 pieces.

Equipment used for the demolition of the buildings included three sets of LaBounty UP 20 universal processors mounted to excavators, five LaBounty MSD Saber Series shears (models 2500R and 3000R), six LaBounty CP 80 concrete pulverizers mounted to Komatsu PC 300s and six LaBounty HDR 70 demolition grapples mounted to PC 300s. Other equipment included between 25 and 40 dump trucks and excavators (ranging in size from mini up to 200,000-ton). In addition, a Sierra Pacific logger was used to bale the sheet metal or cut and process the steel which was prepared and shipped directly to steel mills.

“The LaBounty universal processors sped up the demolition process by cutting materials without the use of a flame,” Griffin said. “They can also reach up to 135 feet and are capable of pulverizing the concrete and tearing down the multi-story buildings.”

According to Griffin, the sturdiness with which the plant was constructed was a major challenge to the demolition.

“Some walls stood five bricks thick,” Griffin said. “Concrete ceiling and floor beams are especially difficult to handle. The LaBounty UPs were brought in to claw off the concrete in order to get to the reinforcing steel bars inside.”

According to information obtained from Uwe Kausch, Stanley LaBounty product marketing manager, the LaBounty Universal Processors are designed to maximize the use of one attachment by using a variety of changeable jaw sets. With four jaw sets from which to choose from, one attachment can be used for concrete cracking, concrete pulverizing, scrap metal shearing and plate shear jaws for demolishing above and below ground storage tanks.

Explosives Used on Two Buildings

According to Griffin, two buildings were demolished by explosion, including a 1.3 million sq. ft. (121,000 sq m) building, making it the second largest building ever demolished by explosion in the United States. The other building was 700,000 sq. ft. (65,000 sq m). In addition to the buildings, the smokestacks and water towers were demolished by explosion. This included a 270-ft. (82 m) water tower, which was the tallest water tower east of Mississippi River. Griffin handled all the explosive work.

Griffin partnered with Culp Brothers Inc. of Gold Hill, N.C., for the excavation and grading work, which consisted of approximately 2 million cu. yds. (1.53 million cu m) of cut and fill.

Recycling a Large Part of Job

According to Griffin, salvaging of building materials — brick, wood and steel — was maximized. A total of 500,000 tons (454,000 t) of material — enough to fill 50,000 dump trucks — will be recycled, including 10,000 tons (9,000 t) of scrap steel, 10 million bricks, 5,000 heart pine beams and 400,000 tons (363,000 t) of concrete.

“Over 80 percent of the wreckage will be recycled,” Griffin said.

Axel Demolition and Salvage Inc., headquartered in Charlottesville, Va., was subcontracted by D.H. Griffin to assist with some of the demolition and also act as a broker for some of the mill’s antique building materials. For example, more than 1 million ft. (305,000 m) of antique heart pine is being reclaimed and resold to antique lumber companies and lumberyards in the United States and Europe.

The recycled bricks will be used for construction and as keepsakes for former workers, while the broken brick and concrete will be crushed into 400,000 tons (363,000 t) of gravel to be used as fill to help level lots and build temporary roads at the site. The maple flooring is being sold to sawmills, while the quarter million nails from the floor are being melted in steel mills to make more nails. Half of the 100,000 tons (91,000 t) of material that doesn’t get recycled will be sent to the Cabarrus County landfill, including roofing material and wallboard. The rest will be used for on-site fill.

History of the Plant

Industrialist James William, began construction of the Fieldcrest Cannon/Pillowtex Plant in the late 1800s to accommodate his growing terry cloth towel business. William built the new facility on a 600-acre farm north of Concord, N.C., and named the community Kannapolis. The company opened its doors in 1906 and continued to grow. By 1928, there were nine mills and the company was renamed The Cannon Mills Company.

Fieldcrest Mills, of Eden, N.C., bought Cannon Mills in 1986, forming the Fieldcrest Cannon Inc. and the mills continued to produce terry cloth towels. In 1997, Fieldcrest Cannon was acquired by the Pillowtex Corporation which was, at the time, one of the largest feather and down companies in the world. At its peak, the Pillowtex plants employed nearly 50,000 people; however as the years went on, the state’s textile industry slowed, and in July of 2003 Pillowtex announced the closing of all 16 of its manufacturing and distribution facilities and filed for voluntary Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Consequently, approximately 5,000 people lost their jobs. It was North Carolina’s largest mass layoff.

New Construction Already Under Way

“The most challenging aspect of the project has been the aggressive schedule we have had to maintain to stay ahead of the new construction schedule,” Griffin said.

On the Pillowtex site, the North Carolina Research Campus will be built — a $1 billion biotechnology complex that will focus on food and nutrition and how they can fight diseases like cancer, obesity and diabetes. The facility is expected to bring 5,000 new jobs and new hope to Kannapolis, a city economically devastated by the demise of the Carolina textile industry.

Currently under construction at the site are the Core Laboratory and the Central Energy Plant, which is at the site of the old smokestacks. Construction will soon begin on the N.C. State University Dole Lab, the Duke University Lab and another lab adjacent to the Duke facility, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Lab, two parking decks, greenhouses, a storage building and the Curb Motorsports building. All of these buildings are expected to be completed by the end of 2007 and the value on the buildings is an estimated $391 million.

Construction on the entire North Carolina Research Campus should be complete within five years. CEG

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