Canadian Consulting Engineer

Apotex, Richmond Hill

March 1, 2006
By Canadian Consulting Engineer

The expansion of Apotex's pharmaceuticals manufacturing plant in Richmond Hill, north of Toronto, involved the fast-track construction of a complex building of approximately 200,000 sq.ft....

The expansion of Apotex’s pharmaceuticals manufacturing plant in Richmond Hill, north of Toronto, involved the fast-track construction of a complex building of approximately 200,000 sq.ft.

The expansion included a 45,000 sq.ft. fully automated and climate controlled warehouse, hazardous materials dispensing areas, compounding suites, grade C and grade D sterile production suites, packaging areas, and utility support areas. All the pharmaceutical areas had to be designed to meet the strict requirements of Canadian and international regulators, including the Canadian Health Protection Branch and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Crossey Engineering was the lead consultant for the mechanical and electrical service design, including fire and life safety system, and process services. From inception to construction completion, the project took 25 months and was completed on time and on budget.

The mechanical and electrical services include a 1,300-BHP steam plant, a 400-BHP boiler plant and a year-round 4,000-ton chilled water plant. There is also a 3,000-scfm oil-free process compressed air plant, and air-handling equipment for cleanliness and pressurization totalling over 500,000 cfm.


The electrical system includes a full 27.6 KV infrastructure. It includes power factor correction, the ability to interconnect to multiple loops and double ended switch gear to improve reliability. Multiple voltage systems were necessary to serve production equipment from around the world. The lighting fixtures meet a clean room classification while being hinged to give access to the ceiling space.

Drug production involves millions of dollars of product and cannot be compromised by system failures. The special design features included fast response controls for steam production, and large storage tanks for compressed air to handle the large instantaneous loads of 288 cu.ft. autoclaves and other process demands.

The site presented some problems. It has high groundwater and municipal height restrictions, factors which limited the building’s floor-to-floor height and created a challenge for the mechanical and electrical design. To limit the required height of the main air handling unit room, for example, the return air fans and outside air intakes are on the roof while the main air handlers with cooling and heating coils are housed below.

Due to the aquifer, the underground plumbing and drainage systems needed to be carefully designed. To provide for flexibility and allow for future changes in the plant processes, a corrosion resistant polypropylene drain was placed in the ballast slab with various exit points in a 600 mm gravel bed built between the ballast slab and floor slab.

The site lighting system has cut-off luminaires with low angles to limit the trespass of light on neighbouring houses and to meet the requirements of a local observatory.

Owner: Apotex

Mechanical & electrical consultant: Crossey Engineering (Wally Eley, P.Eng., Clive R. Lacey, P.Eng., Anderson W. Kong, Tony Giaconelli)

Other key players: Whitney Bailey (architecture, structural design); Randal Brown and Associates (code and fire safety), Vanbots (construction).


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