by Matt Margolis
Highpoint Engineering was brought in to begin planning the project approximately 2 weeks before the April 1, 2014 Merrimack Planning Board presentation. It is likely, based on the dates above that GTAT was presented with a sapphire materials opportunity sometime in early March that will ultimately result in GT’s strategic decision to shift their R&D facility to a sapphire growth, product creation and shipping operations.
GT’s Merrimack construction plans include building construction and interior work that will displace the administrative services functions. The expansion includes a 23,000 per floor additional that is 2 floors and measures 65 feet by 350 feet long.
GT’s exterior infrastructure improvements include installing up to 6 transformers and up to 1 to 2 cooling towers. Currently the site has 1 inert “Argon” tank and the plan is to add 2 inert gas tanks, one consisting of Helium and one consisting of Nitrogen. The additional inert gas tanks will measure approximately 8 to 10 feet in diameter by 15 to 18 feet in height. The facility will include backup generators and UPS systems, since GT can ill afford a nanosecond of power disruption while growing sapphire boules.
The facility will accommodate 307 parking spaces up from 221 spaces currently at the location. The number of parking spaces were noted as adequate because the operation will include “swing shift” employees (24/7) operations. The internal shift from R&D to Manufacturing has already begun within the existing facility. The lead engineer from Highpoint Engineering has indicated that there has been a significant uptick in truck traffic over the last few weeks (3/17 /14 to 4/1/14) to move equipment and prep the building for manufacturing. The equipment operation is lessening and t he manufacturing process is increasing to grow boules, create a product and ship it out. The facility is expected to have 2 loading docks for shipping and receiving.
Merrimack Site Plan Image (The expansion of plant is the yellow sliver)
Full Disclosure: I am long GTAT and have no plans to buy or sell any holdings