Bigger, Faster, Smarter Facility

M.S. Walker Fine Wines and Spirits
Dedham, MA

M.S. Walker was faced with a dilemma: their Somerville-based property needed to relocate due to the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority's Green Line Extension Project, forcing them to find a new home for their rectification and bottling facilities as soon as possible. A family-run business that has distributed and manufactured wines and spirits in Massachusetts since 1933, M.S. Walker set their sights on Dedham, MA. It was a suitable location: it provided a reasonable commute for their existing workforce, had direct access to a railroad to bring in raw materials, and was connected to a source of high-quality drinking water.

SMMA partnered with National Development, Cranshaw Construction, W.A. Tompkins Co., and DTM Packaging, LLC to provide the design services for the newly constructed, single-story alcohol rectification and bottling facility. The completed building is an open-plan environment with four differentiated areas: a rectification space, a packaging and bottling section, a warehouse for storage, and space for its office facilities, QC lab, and tasting room.

A Challenge in Coordination

Incorporating new equipment into the building while adhering to storage regulations for flammable liquids presented a challenge in coordination. The 9,000-gallon stainless steel storage tanks required the construction of the rectification room to be accelerated, synchronized with the storage tanks' arrival.

The tank vents were stubbed through the roof. Then the HVAC ductwork, fire protection, compressed air, and plumbing systems were installed. The hangers for the stainless-steel process piping were installed and fireproofed. Finally, the tanks were maneuvered in sideways through the oversized door and tipped into place. The result was an instance of careful design and installation – a consideration for both safety and efficiency.

From Manual to Automated

M.S. Walker’s prior systems were labor intensive. When staff wanted to move liquids from one tank to another, they had to manually disconnect and reconnect hoses to their corresponding tanks. To modify tastes, they had to climb up to the top of the tank, open the tank door, and pour in a bucket of flavorings. Their liquor recipes were recorded by hand and by memory.

M.S. Walker's new, fully automated systems feature state-of-the-art equipment that prioritizes safety and efficiency. Connections can now easily be made on a computerized flow control panel, and adding flavorings now takes place at a dedicated station with precise meters. Because of these upgrades, staff are enabled to work resourcefully and faster.

Stretching Energy Savings

SMMA needed to demonstrate compliance with the state’s Stretch Energy Code, requiring a minimum 20% energy savings compared to ASHRAE 90.1-2007 Energy Standard for Buildings. However, the process energy loads, including rectification and bottling equipment, represented a much higher proportion of the total energy use — about 65% compared to 20 or 30% for a typical office or warehouse building.

SMMA's final calculations exceeded Stretch Code with a 35% reduction in overall building energy use, and SMMA also provided M.S. Walker with tools to better understand the potential impact of electrical demand on their facility operations.

"Thank you SMMA for the outstanding support, diligent commitment and high level of detail. SMMA was thoughtful and respectful to our entire organization's needs, and clearly understood our complex and varied operational requirements."
–Scott Allen, General Manager, M.S. Walker

Cheers to Integration

Coordination is important on any project. However, it is especially critical on a technically involved project such as M.S. Walker. SMMA’s integrated approach is ideally suited to excel in these challenges, having multiple in-house disciplines involved from the outset. The design team was able to successfully eliminate the time delay and information translation issues that are common in the traditional architect/consultant team structure.

Left: Process systems design-build by W.A. Tompkins Co.