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One way to put an office on top of a factory

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The case

In 2003, Unilever’s new headquarters changed the Rotterdam skyline. But before it did, it had to be placed on top of the existing factory, without impacting operations below. Together with Mammoet, Unilever decided to build the new office next to the factory. Once the building – nicknamed The Bridge – was finished, it was positioned in its final position above the existing facilities in one go. The job was completed in a single weekend, in time for the Monday morning shift to get to work.

Months of planning changed Rotterdam’s skyline overnight.

Constructing a 3,500-ton building on top of a factory was going to take months. Considering the prolonged impact this would have on Unilever's day-to-day operations, this scenario wasn't an option. The factory would have to be shut down for a large part of the construction process, supply routes would be heavily obstructed and costs would soar as a direct result.

With the reduction of downtime in mind, we suggested a radically different approach.

Together with the client and our production partners, the decision was made to build the new office next to the factory and then place one on top of the other in one go.

Operations remain uninterrupted with innovative solution.

Unilever, The Netherlands

Not only would this solution save Unilever a significant amount of time and money, it also meant that the construction could take place in a controlled environment, greatly enhancing the safety of both construction workers and factory personnel.

April 12 2003 The inner frame going for a drive

September 6 2003 140 meters of skidding to go

September 7 2003 SPMTs in tight quarters

September 8 2003 Ready for the Monday morning shift

Last but not least, Mammoet's approach was the most efficient solution to get the building in place without interrupting Unilever's operations.

Through a tailor-made combination of SPMTs and a skidding system, the entire structure was safely moved into position over the weekend.

By carrying out the bulk of the construction process off site, the job on location took a relatively short time to complete. Having started the operation on Saturday, the factory was back open for business the very next Monday morning. As if The Bridge had always been there.

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