Slated for completion in 2018, ARAUCO’s particleboard facility in Grayling, Michigan will house the largest continuous single-line particleboard press in North America, and the second largest in the world. What started as blank canvas on 640 acres situated approximately five miles south of downtown Grayling is being transformed into a $400 million, 850,000 sq. foot facility that will be part of the new world of manufacturing. The state-of-the-art facility will utilize the latest in technology and a mammoth press to manufacture world-class decorative wood panel products used in home interiors and furniture across North America.

A critical component to the success of the project was design of the foundation for the enormous press. The press manufacturer set forth stringent settlement criteria, which could have resulted in big construction costs related to the foundation system. SME’s experience and extensive knowledge of the subsurface and soil conditions on the site meant we were well-suited to provide geotechnical assessment and foundation design services that would ultimately keep overall project costs under control. SME conducted a geotechnical evaluation and, based on the data, designed alternate press foundation systems which met the stringent settlement criteria. Ultimately, the selected design allowed the press to be supported on shallow foundations, eliminating the need for a costly deep foundation system.

The new plant features over 60,000 cubic yards of concrete and 1,350 tons of reinforcing steel. In addition to geotechnical engineering services, SME provided full-time Construction Materials Services (CMS) during site balancing and earthmoving activities, including on-site engineering consultation during earthmoving activities. We also provided inspection and testing of soil, aggregate, concrete, mortar, grout, structural steel, ultrasonic weld testing, and asphalt during construction of the facility. SME monitored Proctor tests, gradational analysis, concrete cylinder compressive strength, asphalt core density, mortar, and grout compressive strength to keep the project moving successfully forward.

The new ARAUCO particleboard facility will provide significant stimulus to the local and regional economy and place Grayling on the map as a hub of premium panel products.

2018 Michigan Concrete Association Award of Excellence (MCA): Structural - Industrial Award recipient.