Proudly Powering an Oilseed Processing Facility

View of the inside of an electric room.

October 23, 2023

Construction is complete on an oilseed processing facility in the midwest. Interstates supported one of their clients with electrical design and construction, along with providing leadership and expertise throughout the commissioning and start-up phases. The new processing plant will replace the aged crush facility on-site and increase the volume of raw soybean oil they can supply to its refinery. Interstates played a pivotal role in delivering this project successfully, fighting against material-related delays with prefabrication and innovative scheduling methods.

Leadership and Collaboration Avoid Conflicts

Barry Hale, Senior Project Manager at Interstates, notes how effective collaboration and leadership helped this project run smoothly. On a bustling job site adjacent to functioning facilities, working with other trades and the client’s team members was crucial for avoiding conflicts. “Our field management staff did a great job of working with other contractors on-site to coordinate our efforts. A lot of ‘horse trading’ goes on with a site like this, like, ‘Will you come pick up your trailer or hook up your welder? Can we use your lift for a couple of days?’ Working together keeps costs down for everybody and builds a collegial environment,” Hale remarks.

Effective communication and strong relationships helped move the project forward. Kyle Hansen, Assistant Project Manager at Interstates, says the foundation of trust and cooperation between Interstates and the client was pivotal. “We managed to build a strong relationship with their team on-site. This allowed our team to get out in front of issues, resolve them, and have a plan in place in case similar problems happen in the future,” Hansen explains.

Supply Chain Impacts Schedule

Delays in receiving critical equipment and materials significantly impacted the project schedule. Randy Stander, Senior VDC Team Leader at Interstates, says, “Some of the gear delivery was out over a year-plus. Getting materials and gear specified and orders placed as early as possible was important.” Despite early planning, he says some gear arrived when expected, and some arrived late. Hale adds, “Supply chain issues were quite a challenge. Each delay impacted all the trades in a ripple effect, especially when steel was in short supply, and the steelworkers fell behind.”

Interstates leveraged several solutions to keep the project on schedule despite these delays. Whiteboard planning, 3D modeling, and prefabrication were integral to streamlining operations. In particular, Interstates’ internal tracking solution, InterTrak, played a key role. Creating summary reports for the client in InterTrak kept them informed about critical milestones. “We were able to show the client the number of motors that still needed to be installed before we could do raceways, wiring, or terminations. It helped the client manage the subcontractors in front of us and understand why things weren’t as far along as the schedule showed they should be,” says Hale. This real-time visibility into progress allowed the client to manage the work more effectively.

Safety Culture Appreciated

Safety took center stage in the project’s narrative. With the client’s well-developed “drive to zero” safety program and Interstates’ long-standing commitment to a zero-injury culture, this project maintained an impressive safety record. “We were recognized by the client multiple times for being the most proactive contractor on-site when it came to safety, reporting near misses, first-aids, and more. At the end of the project, we had executed well over 100,000 man-hours of work with no recordable injuries,” says Hale. The group commitment to safety helped build trust and enhance the overall safety culture on-site.

Commissioning Expertise Adds Value

Our teams proved instrumental during the commissioning and start-up phases. According to Hansen, “Interstates helped the client immensely with the commissioning and start-up for the new plant. We were relied upon for assistance and also helped with configuring network switches.” Stander mentions that, because of our work on their previous projects, the client relied on Interstates to help monitor the overall electrical design. “We also assisted with marking up and improving their Best Practices document to help them close the gaps and make it more consistent,” he says.

Though the project spanned over two years, Interstates’ positive energy and unwavering commitment to safety stood out. “Morale stayed high, safety was always the focus, and people didn’t get burned out,” says Hale. “We never let up on our safety standards and kept that positive culture all the way through.”