Integrated Project Services (IPS) is an innovative global presence that life sciences clients turn to when they require a comprehensive suite of engineering, procurement, construction management and validation (EPCVM) services.
Equipped to serve as a one-stop shop for its clients around the world, for the last thirty years IPS has set the standard for project excellence in the life sciences market, ever-committed to innovation, collaboration, growth, and the adoption of new technologies and construction practices.
“From our inception we were pretty entrepreneurial and innovative in the way that we delivered. The rapid advancements of technology – we see that as a differentiator for us,” said Mark Butler, President and Managing Director of the Americas region. “The new technologies that are coming out, new ways to deliver faster projects and ultimately to help our customers succeed – that’s really our overall mission.”
Butler went on to explain that IPS was “founded pretty much as a disruptor to the pharmaceutical industry. The plan thirty years ago was to create a one-stop shop for the pharmaceutical industry where you could get design, construction and validation or qualification services under one roof.” This was unheard of in the 1980s when these services were typically fragmented and only offered individually.
Consolidating services was common in other industries, so recognizing this, IPS came about as a response to that gap that existed in the market. The team brought consulting, architecture, project controls, engineering, construction management, commissioning and validation under one roof to simplify and streamline the construction process for life sciences customers.
After a successful start, IPS made the decision to reinvent itself in 2007, positioning itself as the subject matter expert in the field. From that time until 2016, the company focused on its technology and expertise, ensuring it had the resources required to support its growth plans. In 2016, IPS shifted its focus to reinforcing the capacity of its construction division, bringing Tom Chapman on board as Vice President of the construction division to transform what the company was capable of – and transforming it in the process.
As Chapman noted, “Since 2018, our construction revenues have doubled in size. I think our staff has almost doubled in size in construction and that’s primarily due to the market, as the cell and gene therapy part of the market has pretty much exploded with personalized medicine. That lends itself to wanting construction projects that are delivered a lot faster.”
In addition to gene therapy and personalized medicine, sterile or aseptic product manufacturing is a hot market for IPS, as these facilities are in need of upgrades and renovations to maintain the pace of development of new products and technologies that are available on the market.
Butler explained that regardless of a customer’s size or purpose, “All of those customers have different pressures on them and it all relates to the cost of the drugs, to the capital expenditures. So the faster that we can get a facility built at the lowest cost for purpose type facility, [the more it helps the customer]. We take advantage of technology wherever we can to help our customer succeed.”
In order to accommodate demands for tighter timelines and stricter budgets, IPS has responded in the same way it has since its founding: delivering innovation in the services and the resources it offers to its customers to promote project success. “One of the new offerings we’ve put together is more focus on off-site fabrication and modular construction with a very deep dive into partnerships and alliances with suppliers because we see that critical mass of the supply chain as being an integral part of the overall capital project delivery. It also aligns with LEED integrated project delivery principles,” said Chapman.
IPS’ new iCON product is being offered in partnership with Texas-based G-CON Manufacturing, Inc. which provides the biomanufacturing industry a turnkey solution delivered through a modular facility platform. Essentially, as Chapman explained of the partnership, “They build pods and what IPS has done is provide pre-engineered designs for downstream and upstream logic manufacturing. We’ve created pre-engineered fill-finish facilities for Sparrow and pre-engineered OSD facilities for oral solid dosage manufacturing, as well as a laboratory module for laboratory operations,” that are shipped fully fitted out with all interior finishes, complete with the necessary mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) infrastructure.
There is a strong recognition at IPS that highly technical projects require highly technical resources and tools to be able to deliver optimal project results. To this end, the company continuously identifies partners who will serve it in its mission to elevate the level of service delivery.
For instance, IPS has partnered with Butler Steel and Span to provide the exterior building coverage for the pods as part of the full-service iCON project delivery, as well as The Beck Group to develop a new estimating platform that can be integrated into its BIM (Building Information Modeling) design process to enable the costing of designs as they progress to better control target values on projects.
IPS is also leveraging the growing field of data analytics to bring greater value to projects to perform more reliably, efficiently and cost-effectively. Chapman acknowledged that data analytics is where the market is heading and IPS is positioned to take advantage of it. He explained that, “Through the use of the digital tools that are available to us – laser scanning for progressing work in the fields, RFIs [requests for information] for tracking materials, the use of drones – all of these new tools are assisting the construction industry to be more efficient. We all know the construction industry has been a lagger in terms of progress and efficiency as compared to manufacturing.”
From modular construction to the advanced use of BIM and virtual design scenarios for clients that can help facilitate training for their operators, the size and complexity of the projects IPS undertakes ranges. Currently, the company has projects underway around the globe ranging from $50 million to $150 million in value.
While IPS was established in the mid-Atlantic, its construction projects now span the Southeast, Northeast, Midwest, Mid-Atlantic and the West Coast of the United States, growth that has taken place both organically and through acquisition. A recent acquisition is Cardinal Group Inc. of Woburn, Massachusetts, a construction management services provider that supports the life sciences and healthcare markets in the Northeastern U.S., which will expand IPS’ reach and strengthen its resources and capabilities.
IPS also has an international presence in Europe and Asia. Its work was recently recognized as a standout in the manufacturing category of Engineering News-Record’s 2019 Global Best Projects, receiving an award of merit for an oral solid dosage and injectable pharmaceutical manufacturing facility for Lupin Ltd. in Nagpur, India, one of many awards the company has received throughout the years and an example of its growing international presence.
What makes IPS successful is that innovation is not only taking place externally to drive improved project results, it is taking place internally to ensure that the company is functioning at the top of its game across its growing global footprint. Its team of subject matter experts has reached 1,400, a twenty-four percent increase over last year, growth that has been supported by the exciting and highly technical projects IPS undertakes, in addition to its commitment to investing in employees’ professional development.
“Our employees are our greatest asset,” Chapman explained. “We value making sure they are provided what they need to be successful in their careers and exposing them to opportunities in both the construction and design and on the commissioning and compliance side in qualifying facilities. We’re one of the very few companies that can offer that to graduates coming out of school.”
For Chapman the priority remains, “to modernize the way we think of design in terms of maximizing offsite fabrication and modular construction to improve quality, reliability and safety on projects. The more interesting we can make it, the more modern we can make it, the more likely the construction industry is going to be able to start to catch up to manufacturing.”
Drawing on technology, the goal is to continue to utilize available technology to render greater project results, from more accurate cost forecasting to improved planning and scheduling through use of BIM technology and new technologies and approaches as they arise. From the construction perspective, Chapman noted, “It’s about moving into a world of visualization of what design intent is to a constructed, operated facility where all of the stakeholders have an opportunity to participate and to do it in such a way that it does not encumber creativity. That’s our objective: to be able to design within a budget and stay on track though the use of digital technologies as they improve.”
After thirty years of success, IPS isn’t looking to slow down anytime soon. The company will continue to be innovative to the core, ever advancing with technology to remain a progressive force globally in an industry that is typically slow to evolve.
“We want to continue to grow our market share globally as a business,” said Butler, which will be achieved by maintaining the full-service approach to construction for its life sciences customers as it has done since the outset and by investing in technology and its people, working in partnership with strategic players to remain on the growth trajectory it has long enjoyed.