Contruent Blog

COVID-19 Has Manufacturing Facilities, Warehouse & Data Centers Construction Booming

One major area of construction in the United States that has seen a massive boom because of the pandemic is warehouse and manufacturing facility construction. Pharmaceutical manufacturing facilities, fulfillment centers and warehouses, and data centers and server farm construction are rising rapidly.

The construction is fueled by the COVID-19 pandemic’s increased demands for having data, items, necessities, and vaccines and medications shipped or made available quickly. Rather than purchasing items in-store, the need for two-day and same day deliveries has risen. Throughout 2020, biopharma manufacturing facilities had to rethink their supply chains while researching and developing pandemic treatment drugs and vaccines. Additionally, the COVID-19 vaccines are temperature sensitive and need to be produced en masse. Data center construction is on the rise as mobile and internet data usage and storage are at an all time high, especially with the work-from-home trend and schools going virtual around the world. 

Bio-Pharma Manufacturing Facilities

The pharmaceutical and biotech industries are continuously challenged to discover, create, and manufacture medications, vaccinations, and medical products to improve the public’s health and well-being. The entire process is governed and strictly overseen by agencies and regulations grant or deny product approval and distribution. As such, pharmaceutical and bio-pharma facilities must be constructed with the utmost care and precision from the start. 

While the United States is the single largest pharmaceutical market in the world, currently, only 3-5% of global active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) production is based in the US. However, recently there has been a push to bring biopharma manufacturing back to the US to assist with the shortages and supply chain issues experienced during the pandemic. Doing so would allow biopharma organizations to control costs and maintain continuous quality improvement.

While some pharma companies have opted to build brand new laboratories, manufacturing sites, and medical facilities, others have opted to save time/cost by modernizing or refurbishing campuses, facilities and vacant buildings or purchasing modular buildings or having prefabricated units constructed off-site. Renovating existing facilities is often the most time-effective way to go about this process compared to building a brand new sites require complex approvals which can take up to a year to gain. No matter how a clinical supply center or facility project starts, project controls software can assist from research to clinical to commercial.

“If you can start with a building shell that accommodates your process and meets planning needs, you can save nine-plus months in construction,” John Noble, Vice President and general manager of life sciences at Jacobs, told

There are benefits to both refurbishing biotech and pharmaceutical facilities or building new. 

“Purchasing an existing facility may be more cost effective and have an expedited startup schedule,” Mitch Lower, Vice President of global engineering for AveXis, a Novartis company specializing in gene therapies, said. “However, the existing infrastructure and facility layout may drive additional costs to retrofit to accommodate the necessary manufacturing process. When building a completely new facility, the timeline may be longer; however, you will have the flexibility to build the facility to meet the needs of your unique and novel manufacturing processes.”  

Fulfillment Center & Warehouse Construction

In order to keep up with demand, more major companies like Walmart, Amazon, and Whole Foods have been increasing their warehouses and manufacturing facilities. The pandemic seems to have made this a new normal for consumers, many of whom now expect two-day or same-day delivery of goods. Companies have to work hard to predict what will be needed in different regions and are building fulfillment centers and warehouses to keep up with inventory demands for the area.

These construction projects typically include site work, underground utilities, stone bases/foundations for building pads, parking garages, concrete curbs, and paving for sidewalks and parking lots. These fulfillment centers and warehouses are being constructed in urban and suburban areas to meet the local demand of getting products delivered quickly. In fact, according to Bloomberg, Amazon plans to open 1,000 small delivery hubs in suburban areas across the country, and that number could expand to as many as 1,500.

This isn’t the first time the US in general (or Amazon, for that matter) has seen a need for storage space and speedy delivery. Before the demand for fulfillment centers there was a massive need for data storage– server farms, server clusters, and data centers, and at this rate, that will always be the case it seems.  The data center construction market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 4.8% during the period 2021–2026.

Data Centers

In terms of just how much data is used and stored, according to SeedScientific:

  • The amount of data in the world was estimated to be 44 zettabytes at the dawn of 2020. (These are insane numbers to try to imagine: Cisco explains that a zettabyte is a measure of storage capacity and is 2 to the 70th power bytes, also expressed as 1021 (1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 bytes) or 1 sextillion bytes. One zettabyte is approximately equal to a thousand exabytes, a billion terabytes, or a trillion gigabytes.)
  • By 2025, the amount of data generated each day is expected to reach 463 exabytes globally.
  • Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and Amazon store at least 1,200 petabytes of information.
  • The world spends almost $1 million per minute on commodities on the Internet.
  • By 2025, there will be 75 billion Internet-of-Things (IoT) devices in the world.

As internet usage is only going to continue to rise, the need for space to store everything has increased. Today, the ever-expanding cloud is really more like a universe. In fact, Microsoft has even tested out underwater data centers. After deploying their first in 2018, they have since found it to be a reliable, practical, and energy-sustaining option. Meanwhile, Google has at least 23 land-based data centers listed publicly across the globe  (14 of which are in the United States).

Amazon, Microsoft, and Google aren’t the only data center giants; some companies have such huge computing needs that they build their own private data centers. As these trends continue, the construction to meet their needs soars.

Whether your company is building a $250 million bio-pharma production facility or is planning to construct a data center in Virginia’s “Data Center Alley”, a tech manufacturing warehouse or a fulfillment center, Contruent project controls software has you covered to help deliver its build on-time and within budget.

Contruent Enterprise software is an effective tool for measuring the entire engineering and construction process and progress. As an earned value management solution, users can evaluate progress based on user-defined milestones, linked schedule activities, or hours expended. It quickly enables project organizations to start laying out engineering work, estimate the number of drawings to produce, and estimate the number of specifications needed to purchase equipment. Request an online demo here.