Streamlining Manufacturing Operations for Hanwha Qcells

When a large-scale solar manufacturing company needed additional space to complement its operations in Cartersville, Georgia, it selected a 60-acre site immediately adjacent to its existing plant. While the location was ideal, the property was underlain by karst topography, making it highly prone to sinkholes, and had a challenging 100-foot grade change from north to south.

Armed with due diligence and design information that had been completed for another client a few years prior, Bohler was able to provide creative design alternatives and cost-effective solutions to overcome the site’s challenges and streamline operations between the two manufacturing plants.

Getting Ahead of Due Diligence

To support Hanwha Qcells’ $2.5 billion solar panel manufacturing complex, Hanwha Advance Materials, a subsidiary of Hanwha Qcells, planned to use the site to build facilities that produce the encapsulant film used on the solar panels made at the Hanwha Qcells facility next door.

With Bohler on board, the team had a jump start on due diligence and navigating site challenges.

We knew the site had karst topography, but we were able to jump in with creative alternatives.

— Joel DelliCarpini, Regional Manager

“We already knew the site had karst topography and a 100-foot grade change from the north to the south end of the property,” said Joel DelliCarpini, Regional Manager. “Karst topography and unstable soils certainly complicate design because of the risk for sinkholes, but we were able to jump in with some creative alternatives.”

Prior to beginning site design, Bohler worked closely with a geotechnical consultant to understand the areas of highest impact across the property. This due diligence informed the site layout and allowed the team to develop a grading and stormwater management plan that avoided significant conflict with the bedrock.

Balancing Grading

During the design phase, Bohler utilized previously established elevations to create the site layout, placing the buildings and anticipated expansion at the same level. However, during construction, the contractor discovered an excessive amount of dirt.

We collaborated with the client and architect to significantly reduce earthwork.

— Brett Buckland, Project Manager

“Removing a lot of extra dirt from a site is costly,” said Project Manager, Brett Buckland. “We collaborated with the client and architect to remove a previously planned loading dock, which allowed for the north side of the building to be raised in elevation and significantly reduce earthwork.”

Bohler estimates that raising the elevation of the building’s north side saved 60,000 cubic yards of dirt from being hauled offsite, which equates to approximately 3,500 truckloads. By identifying this opportunity to reduce soil export, the team was able to save considerable time and money for the client.


Managing Stormwater

Bohler’s team took an innovative approach to effectively manage stormwater and minimize the impact of the site’s karst, sink-hole-prone topography. By leveraging the site’s steep slope to efficiently direct water to low points of the property, Bohler’s design prevents stormwater from infiltrating the soluble rock and bypasses unstable soils.

“We created a micro-pool extended detention basin,” explained Brett. “This solution treats the water quality and provides short-term water detention to prevent excess standing water that can risk infiltrating the karst soils.”

DID YOU KNOW? A site  classified as having karst topography has soft rock, such as limestone, throughout the property that dissolves in water over time. This type of soluble, unstable soil is particularly prone to sink holes.

Planning for the Future

Bohler provided a forward-thinking layout strategy for Hanwha Advanced Materials to expand its manufacturing capacity – including stormwater management design, associated entitlements, grading and utility coordination.

“When the client is ready to expand, the site is pad-ready and our upfront coordination and collaboration ensures the future buildout will meet regulations,” said Brett.

When the client is ready to expand, the site is pad-ready and our upfront coordination ensures future build-out will meet regulations.

— Brett Buckland, Project Manager


800K SF
60 Acres
100 FT grade change

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