Overcoming the Unexpected

After a fast and furious project, our teams celebrated a job well done with other contractors at the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) Nebraska/South Dakota chapter Excellence in Construction Awards Banquet on September 15. They are breathing easy now as they accepted not one, not two, but three awards. The first is the top honor in the Specialty Contractor – Electrical: Industrial less than $2 Million category, the Eagle Award. The second award was the Project of the Year, awarded to the project with the highest cumulative points. Finally, the third award is the Chairman’s Merit Award. This is given to the project with the most ABC Partners involved and the percentage of work completed by ABC Partners. Jeff Trinkle, Service Manager at Interstates, shares what this award means, “The award validates the work ethic of our people. Winning this is a credit to the dedication of Interstates to our clients.” It’s a proud moment for this team and Interstates. 

In this project with Tyson, an unexpected switchgear failure at their plant in Omaha, NE, required a quick response. Our Omaha team jumped in to provide temporary power generation, diagnostics, switchgear replacement, start-up, and commissioning solutions. Angelo Emmanuel, Journeyman Electrician at Interstates, commented, “This project offered plenty of unique hurdles, from fuel delivery to partner coordination of gear and parts, and our team was fully up to the task. I’m thankful for the team willing to step up to get the job done and our leadership trusting us in the task.” During this 13-day turnaround, we faced supply chain and scheduling challenges, but we kept the facility running. Whether it was midnight gas station hot dogs, strong vendor relationships, or innovative solutions, all teams agreed it was a success. 

Scheduling & Technology Kept Us On Track 

Thankfully, we were at the facility when the incident happened. In just a few hours, we had a team on-site to look at the equipment and begin developing a plan. We used a visual planning process called whiteboard scheduling to provide a detailed schedule of deadline dates, weekend shutdown plans, workforce assignments, and equipment deliveries. This scheduling system fostered open communication and kept everyone on track. 

We also found that using iPads saved us time on the project. Our team could be mobile and go completely paperless while keeping the most accurate plant information in our records. The iPads also helped save time on material ordering, provided field members with better access to plant information, and allowed us to update existing plant drawings. 

Leveraging Relationships to Overcome Challenges 

Our strong relationships with vendors across the country and local businesses helped us weather challenging situations. Trinkle gives insight into how we’ve built these strong relationships, “We spend time both at work and outside of the office with all our vendors. When you know you can trust them, it goes a long way for having frank conversations.” Our vendors not only helped repair a broken alternator belt in the middle of the night, but they also were able to deliver a switchboard in a week when it usually takes 5-6 months. 

From start to finish, local businesses played a role in ensuring we were taking the best steps for the client. Shortly after the incident, an electrical testing company came to determine the extent of the switchgear’s damage. After start-up, they completed the final equipment testing. We also relied on a switchgear manufacturer who assessed the equipment and helped determine the best plan for using and repairing the switchgears. 

Keeping Up With the Weather 

During this time, Hurricane Ida was blowing through Louisiana, which created difficulties in obtaining generators. For 11 days, the plant ran on four generators. We used 32,137 gallons of diesel fuel to keep the generators running and set up diesel delivery to the plant twice a day. The Midwest heat of 90+ degrees caused another challenge. The generators kept the facility’s temperature under control before the client lost any product. 

This project demonstrated our commitment to safety, our strong vendor relationships, and our ability to solve problems with speed and quality. Trinkle and Emmanuel sum it up well, “We’re very grateful for everyone that gave up their weekend to help pull big wire and terminate.” Emmanuel adds, “I’m very proud of our team. We came together for one goal to complete the project in a timely, safe manner.” 


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