Comprehensive engineering firm Integrated Project Services (IPS) was established to revolutionize how capital projects and efficient operating can be achieved for clients who manufacture life-enhancing products around the world.
Since 1989, IPS has built a reputation for carrying out complex and highly-technical projects in tightly regulated industries where its growing team of professionals brings unmatched experience and proficiency to projects. While pharmaceutical, biotechnology and medical device markets are where its strength lies; IPS also serves mission critical facilities as well as food and beverage, animal health, higher education, government, semiconductor, energy and industrial clients.
IPS provides technical consulting, architectural and engineering expertise, construction management, commissioning, qualification and compliance services that can be bundled or unbundled to meet project-specific requirements. It draws upon the latest technologies and methods to do so.
“The two original founders came up with the concept to create an organization that was a full turnkey service where customers could reach out to a single service provider and be able to hire all of the skill sets necessary to take a project in pharma-biotech-med-device – what we call technically-regulated industries – from idea all the way through implementation and startup,” said Patrick Bucklen, principal at IPS.
“We don’t approach it under the pretense that there is one solution and it’s the same solution every time. We look at each business case as a unique opportunity to be able to provide the specific level of service that they need to get their projects funded and built in the most cost-effective and timely project timeline that we can come up with.”
In 2007, IPS embarked on a new era of growth with a transition in leadership led to a new business plan. In 2010, the company made its first acquisition, Mehtalia, which allowed it to break into the Indian market. In 2015, Alleghany Capital acquired a majority stake in IPS and this solid financial backing allowed it to pursue more acquisitions and realize a global growth plan.
“My partners and I … purchased the company from the original founding owners in 2007, and we really changed the business plan at that point where we wanted to go out, and we wanted to hire the best and the brightest people that came from the owner side that understood how to make product, because, at the end of the day, these weren’t just facility projects, they were business projects,” explained Bucklen.
“Customers have a business plan where the result of it is to be able to make pharmaceutical goods that’ll go out into the marketplace and hopefully provide cures for diseases and ailments that affect our society,” he noted.
By investing in local resources and offering a full-service approach to its clients’ projects, IPS simplified the development process to finish fast-track projects swiftly. “We want to be in locations where our customers are. You need to have local resources to be able to interface and communicate with project teams that are in these different areas of the world. One of the things that we always say is, we believe expertise will travel,” said Bucklen.
IPS has gained an understanding of the manufacturing and production needs of its customers and the industry by having in-house subject matter experts from the industries it serves. This has enabled it to optimize speed, cost and output for its clients.
IPS’ evolution is also reflected in the kinds of projects it undertakes. While it was historically a small project company, it has expanded the size of projects for which it bids. The projects can range in size and complexity, from thousand-dollar projects to those priced in the multi-millions.
“We were always kind of known as a small projects company, and as a result of that, we became unique in our ability to execute high volumes of low-cost projects,” Bucklen explained. “As we grew after 2007, obviously, as you take on more people, you bring in more skills, and you have more resources to be able to do larger projects.”
“We’ve kind of morphed into this company that has the ability to do projects up to a billion dollars in size, but on a regular basis, we’re doing a lot of small projects that would be a million dollars or less. When you look at our organization, that’s kind of unique, when you have a company of over a thousand people that is providing these types of services, to be able to say that no project is too small or too big.”
IPS grew from one office with two employees to just under two hundred people in 2007. The company now has 1,100 employees at nineteen offices in nine countries: U.S., Canada, Brazil, UK, Ireland, Switzerland, Singapore, China and India. Bucklen and IPS have a strategy to expand the company by seeking out new markets that require technology-based business solutions. The plan is for the company to once again double in size.
IPS’ services fall into the four areas of architectural engineering, construction services, project controls and commissioning and validation services. IPS is very excited about its newest offering and the impact it can have on its clients, the industry and the health outcomes of the patients who rely on the products. In collaboration with G-CON Manufacturing, a demonstrated leader in prefabricated cleanrooms, it launched a turnkey modular facility solution for biomanufacturing which meets a real demand in the market.
iCON™ was designed and manufactured to provide mobile, modular facility solutions that can be flexibly and rapidly deployed for biopharmaceutical and contract manufacturers. It simplifies design and implementation by providing three-dimensional walkthroughs and process modelling. “It’s a way for customers who are doing bioprocessing to get into the marketplace faster and cheaper than has normally been done in the past,” Bucklen said.
IPS has also introduced a new process automation offering. The company displays its innovative solutions and the knowledge of its team of experts at what it calls ‘technology tours’ in various categories. These take place at INTERPHEX, North America’s premier pharmaceutical equipment showcase.
IPS uses this opportunity to bridge the gap in access and understanding between its experts and its clients by providing insight into the latest in technology and equipment available. It connects with vendors and manufacturers at the show to uncover what is available and how clients can use the new technology to optimize their production environments.
While INTERPHEX is a great opportunity to share its one-of-a-kind solutions, nothing demonstrates the value IPS can bring like its portfolio of concluded projects. A great example of an unbundled service is the Altor Biosciences project, a fast-track design-build project for a critical stake biopharmaceutical company in El Segundo, California that develops treatments for cancer and viral infections.
The Altor project had unique technical challenges related to special conditions and overall floor heights at the acquired property. Gaelle Vincent, construction project manager on the Altor project, explained that “In the end, the project footprint was locked down and turned over to IPS construction to drive it to successful completion.”
“We needed to get this facility designed and built in under a year, and when we were approached about this project, we were asked to provide a unique solution as to how to get the facility up and running in the shortest time possible,” Bucklen added. Not only was it built on time, but it also came in within budget and is currently being qualified.
“We came up with a design-assist strategy where we partnered with some of our local subcontractors to leverage the skill of the local trades to be able to get that project running at a very fast pace because we didn’t have the time to be able to perform traditional detailed design services for this project,” Bucklen noted.
“Pursuing the design-assist actually takes money away from IPS because we’re not performing the engineering, but we knew it was the right solution because the customer had the schedule as the primary driver,” said Bucklen.
Bucklen also emphasized the McGuff Pharmaceuticals project. The client wanted to transition into a new business segment with a radically different regulatory environment, going from compounding into contract manufacturing. Construction is set to commence on that project soon, and it is likely to become another success story for IPS.
Providing further validation for IPS are the numerous awards it has received, including six International Society of Pharmaceutical Engineering (ISPE) Facility of the Year Awards (FOYA). Bucklen highlighted the most recent which is the company’s 2017 win for COOK Pharmica’s Flexible Filling Line (FFL) project in Bloomfield, Indiana in the category of equipment innovation.
Bucklen is also proud of the fact that IPS was recognized as one of the top workplaces in Orange Country, as he is the principal in charge of that unit. “It’s feedback from our own people about how much they enjoy coming to work and being part of a culture that allows them to be the best that they can be.”