The Intel campus in Leixlip, Co. Kildare is currently home to one of the largest construction projects in Europe, building out expanded space that will double the manufacturing capacity for Intel in Ireland. Along with this expansion project, there are many ongoing construction activities that are required as part of normal operations at a large technology campus. The FCE team lead each of these projects and all they entail.
We caught up with Intel Construction Project Manager Ireland Mike Polgar to find out just what’s involved in his role.
A typical day for Mike starts at the Intel campus in Leixlip just before 8am. Mike joined Intel as a construction project manager in 2020 to support the Fab 34 project. His job involves managing and coordinating a number of different aspects of the enormous construction project. At its peak, there are 6,500 people on the build site itself. With such a large number of people, and such a complex project, Mike’s days are a busy mixture of meetings, site walks, check-ins and general trouble shooting.
“Twice a week we begin our day with the construction management meeting. With such a significant number of contractors and subcontractors supporting the project, this is a really important alignment on the project management with all of the key stakeholders”.
When the construction management meeting finishes, Mike catches up on some emails and calls before heading out to the construction site. “More than 6000 people will pass through these turnstiles every day to access the site. Most of them are working on day shifts but we do have a smaller number of people supporting a night shift. So far, more the 28 million work hours have been completed on the construction project. It’s a huge undertaking to manage so many people on a single site so we have extensive welfare facilities in place to provide health, safety and medical facilities for people working at the site”.
Mike begins a walk-through of the main construction site. One of the first, and largest undertakings, for the construction project was to excavate the land to prepare for the build. A substantially lowered ground level was created so that we could facilitate the required foundations. A retaining wall, which is 17.5m height and supported by massive concrete pilings, bounds the site and gives an indication of the natural ground level from where we began.
“1 million m3 of rock and soil was removed from this site – that’s enough to fill 400 Olympic sized swimming pools!. The rock spoil was transferred to a disused quarry in Huntstown, Dublin where it is reclaimed for land use. There are a number of ‘haki’ style staircases that run down the retaining wall allowing people to safely access the main part of the site”.
Mike’s site walk takes him along the retaining wall running adjacent to the site. Typically, Mike will walk a number of different areas, doing visual inspections and meeting with some of the trade contractors. “This is the largest construction project that has ever been seen in Ireland by quite some way. By the time it is finished, €17 billion will have been invested.
The building itself spans multiple levels – we start with the trench or utility level at the bottom, next is the clean subfab level, then the cleanroom level where the main production takes place and lastly, the interstitial or fan deck which is at the top. We’re building 2 fab modules here, back-to-back. This is first time at Intel to undertake to build 2 fabs in one go”.
Mike heads over to the onsite quality training centre to meet with DPS Logistics Manager Daniel Heard. The factories that we are constructing are some of most advanced in the world, and the tools and equipment in them are becoming more and more complex. Therefore, our construction methods become more specialised and higher tech, driving the need for highly trained teams, to carry out precision installations.
“Having a dedicated quality training centre onsite helps to ensure that our teams are well trained, having access to facilities that provide detailed replication of our operating environment in a controlled setting. This hands-on training is so important and is helping us to ensure continuous improvement and a focus on right first time”.
Mike and Daniel make a quick pit stop at one of the café facilities at the construction site. This facility is home to one of the busiest commercial kitchens in the entire country, serving tens of thousands of meals every day. “The café is such an essential part of our site welfare facilities – and certainly one of the busiest. There are several sittings of breakfast and lunch each day in order to ensure that we have capacity for everyone working at the site. You won’t find too many kitchens that are serving more than 6,000 people at their workplace every day!”
On a typical day Mike will cover the length and breadth of the Intel campus as he goes between his office in the East part of the campus and the main construction site in the West. He makes a visit to the new onsite plaza area which sits just in front of the newest parking structure to be constructed at the campus.
“This whole area of the campus has been completely transformed in the past couple of years. We opened this multistorey carpark in 2020. It has capacity for 2,200 cars and ample electric car charging stations on each level. It was built using eco-friendly low carbon cement with thousands of precast units being pieced together to form a new 5 story car park. As the campus evolves and grows, we have to make sure that we have all the necessary infrastructure in place to support our employees”.
Mike drops by the front of Intel campus to a laydown area where our bus fleet is staged. During times of construction activity at our campus the number of people working on-site can increase substantially and so we typically need to introduce offsite parking facilities. For any parking facilities located offsite, these are operated in a ‘park and ride’ manner with regular bus shuttles running between the offsite location and the Intel campus.
”The red buses have probably become a very familiar sight for many along some of our local roadways. With the number of buses that are shuttling people to and from the site, it’s the largest privately run bus fleet in the country. Part of my role is to work with our main contractor, and with the vendor who directly manages the buses, to ensure that the whole process is running smoothly, and providing an efficient service to those commuting to the site”.
Mike pays a visit to the de-crating facility which is located in the East part of the Intel campus. All of the tools and equipment arriving to be installed in our new factory will first pass through this facility where they will be inspected and unpackaged before eventually moving to the factory itself for installation.
This is a vital element of the tool move-in process, ensuring that the equipment is carefully managed whilst being unpacked and inspected for any damage which might have a knock-on effect at a later stage of install. Mike chats with Cyriaque Okambawa of Ross Engineering who is carrying out inspections inside the de-crating facility.
One of the most important aspects of the Construction Project Manager’s role is to be a liaison with key stakeholders. “FCE is responsible for building the factory but at every stage of that build we have to work hand-in-hand with our colleagues across other parts of the business. One of the closest partnerships we have is with the manufacturing team who are responsible for fab operations. It is crucial that we work closely together. We meet regularly to discuss logistics and planning”. Mike meets with Domhnall MacBradaigh from the fab team at the entrance to the gownroom area of the new factory. The gownroom is where people first enter the fab manufacturing space.
Mike will head back to his desk to check in on emails and calls before packing up and heading for home. Evening times are normally spent with family – Mike has 2 boys, aged 18 and 13, who, together with his wife Lorraine, all love spending time outdoors. Mike might head off for a game of 5 aside soccer or take a walk along the Royal canal in the evening.