A Prescription for Safety


Site Expansion and Risk

Ardent Mills in Culpeper, VA, had an ambition to grow its market potential. But, as is the story at many existing facilities, as plans for the site expanded, so did the potential risk. The company wanted to make equipment changes and build a new elevator, but aging electrical components and compliance issues made it clear that a thorough checkup was necessary. Thankfully, the doctor was in.

Interstates provided engineering, construction, and automation services on this project, and Ardent Mills also utilized Interstates’ sensible Electric Room Rx (ERx) service, because the plan included many electric room upgrades. According to Jake Ten Haken, Director of Integrated Services at Interstates, “Ardent was upgrading its facility to better serve clients in that region. The existing electrical system was old and couldn’t support the new process equipment that was being added as part of the upgrade.” ERx was recommended based on several safety and compliance issues including the new equipment. “Lots of factors necessitated it,” says Ten Haken, “but the addition of several 250 HP fans was a major contributor to the decision.”

Why ERx?

The ERx delivery team typically finds four main reasons to use the service, and it was no different on the Ardent Mills project:

  1. Safety. After an arc flash years before, a main switchboard was rebuilt. This needed to be replaced to ensure safety going forward.
  2. Compliance. Working clearances and means of egress from certain rooms were missing or insufficient. Changes were made to honor OSHA and NFPA requirements.
  3. Reliability. MCCs and other electrical components were 30+ years old and no longer dependable. Making these changes before an imminent failure avoids unplanned and costly downtime further down the road.
  4. Capacity. Having the proper infrastructure ensures Ardent can meet changing market demands and continue growing.

Getting Started

The first step of ERx is a full analysis of the electrical system. “We completed a site investigation and came up with multiple options,” says Ten Haken. After considering different choices and phases for the ERx process, Ardent’s engineering team decided on a course of action. Based on the ERx investigation, Ten Haken says there are a few ways to proceed: 1. Build an entirely new electrical room with new gear and new wiring; 2. ‘Gut and Redo’ – which includes an extended shutdown, replacing all the old electrical equipment, rewiring, and putting everything back online; or, 3. Use a hybrid of both methods.

“On this project we actually used all three of those methods, which is unique, but it’s what was required to do it right,” says Ten Haken. Ultimately, approximately 80 outdated sections of MCC were removed and replaced. “Basically, Ardent’s entire milling facility has been switched over to new electrical equipment. A lot of the old equipment was nearing the end of its life, and now they’ve easily ‘kicked the can’ another 30 years down the road,” says Ten Haken. The company’s ability to safely maintain both the electrical and processing equipment has also been greatly improved with these changes. The Culpeper, VA project marks the third time Ardent has utilized Interstates’ ERx process in the last three years. “We’re grateful for that partnership,” says Ten Haken.

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Electric Room Rx
Your Prescription for a Safer Facility