Outsourcing of engineering projects continues strong when it comes to construction projects, according to Darryl Wernimont, food, beverage and consumer market specialist, POWER Engineers, Hailey, ID. This trend plays true to previous years. “In many cases, manufacturers have downsized their in-house engineering resources and are looking to work with multidiscipline groups that can fill a gap in facility design, process and packaging — those disciplines that the food companies may no longer have on staff,” he said.

Two areas of specialization stand out, according to Mr. Wernimont. “The engineering houses typically include the ‘inside the box’ food processing and packaging specialists focused on processes, packaging, integration, regulatory and food safety needs,” he said. “Contractors, whose expertise is the box, focus on site development, construction and transition to joint occupancy.”

During the past 10 years, many projects began being referred to as “design-build,” an approach established to focus on streamlining the building process by linking the architectural, engineering and construction (AEC) components at the start of the project under one contract and with one point of responsibility, he explained. Companies leveraged the AEC resources as one entity.

“Unfortunately, the term ‘design-build’ has become a catch-all with folks trying to tie in process, packaging, refrigeration and utilities,” Mr. Wernimont said. “As a result, some projects are being referred to as a ‘design-build refrigeration system’ or a ‘design-build bread line,’ when in fact these fall into the more traditional category of a turnkey refrigeration system or a turnkey processing and packaging line.”

The industry is now beginning to clarify roles and responsibilities. “As a result, I believe in the future we will see a growing focus on areas of specialization with food manufacturers focusing on their products, safety and market dynamics,” Mr. Wernimont said. “Then, they will rely upon specialized engineering houses to address process, packaging and integration and, as needed, draw upon contractors for brick-and-mortar design-build projects.”