Interstates and Omaha-based Ag Processing, Inc. (AGP) have been working together for over 25 years, but that doesn’t mean every job is handled in the same way. Interstates is keeping things fresh on an AGP project in Aberdeen, SD, with the use of mobile technology and an increasing reliance on prefabrication.
AGP’s Aberdeen project is a greenfield crush facility which, when finished, will be able to crush 4,000 tons per day of soy beans. Interstates used its Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) approach to provide electrical engineering, electrical construction, instrumentation design, controls engineering, and automation controls.
An extremely cold winter posed some challenges during construction. To maintain wire integrity, Interstates electricians couldn’t pull wire when temperatures dropped below 10 degrees. According to Jordan Thomas, Project Manager at Interstates, “We had to really think about how we executed and prioritized work. We pushed to finish outdoor work early and tried to save indoor work for the coldest times. We also brought some temporary heat into the work areas to help with productivity.”
Having a long-term client relationship means growing through obstacles. Jason Breidenbach, IPD Project Manager at Interstates, says, “Because the project is a greenfield site, there were some challenges with designing the controls network. The goal was to eliminate the amount of network hardware to make this network as stable as possible, so we had to get creative and work closely with Rockwell and our controls team to find the right solution.”
Creativity also came into play with the use of prefabrication on this project. While it can take extra up-front planning, prefabrication saves on labor costs and installation time in the field. “We prefabbed 43% of the conduit used on this job. That’s a huge number,” says Thomas. “At least 14% of our labor costs on this project were for prefab. All told, we needed about five fewer people in the field because of it,” he says. Parts were also fabricated on site in a climate-controlled tent, mitigating trade stacking and helping the project stay on schedule. This also allowed field workers to stay productive during inclement weather.
Mobile technology saved time and labor on this project as well. “The entire site had a wireless network for field teams, making it possible to view drawings in real time. It also allowed for collaboration via Skype with people out in the field,” says Breidenbach. Thomas adds, “Having the latest drawings on iPads allows you to redline and communicate any changes to the engineers immediately. It really streamlines things. There aren’t any paper copies to lose or ignore.” In addition to viewing and marking drawings, mobile technology was used for quality assurance and safety documentation.
Drawings were discussed weekly in shop review meetings. “These meetings helped immensely, and our turnaround time was greatly reduced,” says Breidenbach. Open communication was a theme – daily end-of-shift meetings among contractors and the owner’s construction manager aided with coordination and scheduling efforts. “The owner has found great benefit in these daily meetings, especially during the checkout and commissioning phases of the project,” says Thomas. Due to the amount of collaboration with all teams this also drove communication about safety, resulting in a weekly safety walk that led to improvements and a positive safety culture on site.
The strong relationship between AGP and Interstates was apparent in the solid communication from top to bottom. “There are a lot of personal relationships. No one is afraid to pick up the phone and call anyone else if a question comes up,” says Thomas. This strong teamwork was key to the project’s success.