Project Practitioners > Sunshine & Rainbows, Part IV

Sunshine & Rainbows, Part IV

By Morley Selver, P.Eng IPMA B

We Forgot To Check That.

We were building a new facility and had to design a loading area to ship the product. The product was to be shipped by flat deck semi-trailers called B-trains which is one truck pulling two flat bed trailers. As we were in the frozen north, the trucks would be loaded inside at one end of the warehouse. Figure 1 Those on the design team were not truck drivers so we were trying to figure out how to get the trucks in and out of the warehouse. We were looking at a drive through as we did not think they could back up a B-train as it has two movable joints at the hitches. The company was negotiating with a trucking company so we did not want to jeopardize negotiations by talking to the trucking company.

We were in an industrial town with lots of trucks around. One day one of the vice-presidents was having lunch in a small restaurant when he noticed a truck driver parking his B-train in a lot across the street. What he saw was the driver backing up the B-train with no problem at all. Well that solved our problem, it may have been awkward but if one person could do it so could the rest. We built a long area in front of the truck doors where the driver could pull the truck into, get it straight, and back up through the loading door, see Figure 1. A piece of cake.

By the time we started commissioning the plant, there was an agreement with a trucking company to haul product. So, we brought one of the B-trains over to try out our loading area and back into the warehouse. That's when we found out the doors weren't wide enough. The designer forgot to take the truck mirrors into account when he designed the door width. There were four doors and the door frame structure had to be rebuilt and new wider doors installed. The designer was using a book that had standard dimensions for a large variety of items, including trucks. If you are using these books it is imperative that you make sure the books are up-to-date.

The Drawing Wasn't Quite Right.

Figure 2 shows what is called a High Pressure Feeder. It weighs about 20 tons. In this case here we were building a new facility and this was one of the new pieces of equipment. The foundation had been poured and the equipment base plates installed. The contractor set the HP Feeder on the base plates and found that it was not sitting flat on the base plate. It turned out that the base plate, which was 2” thick steel was not flat, nor a machined surface. The base plate had waves in it not allowing the HP Feeder to sit flat on it. This could not be allowed for proper operation of the equipment. The HP Feeder had to be secured and the base plates removed. New machined base plates had to be made up and installed.

Figure 2

This exercise took about two weeks to resolve itself and held up that portion of the work. The problem came about as the designers did not put a machining symbol on the base plate drawing and procurement did not ask for a machined plate. Machining was a standard practice before and somehow got missed with these plate or the designer was under the impression that the only way to get the tolerance was to machine them. Well, as it happened the supplier figured he could meet tolerance with a rolled plate which is what he did. The plates were within tolerance but the rolling put waves in the surface which resulted in gaps along the bottom of the HP Feeder. Just a simple thing like a machining symbol caused several thousands of dollars and schedule delay. If nothing else, you should make sure there is a drawing checking procedure in place to pick up small things like this.

The Misdirection.

Figure 3 is a billion dollar facility we designed and built. I was involved in the design, construction, and start-up. In the design we had an issue with a 36” diameter fiberglass pipe and could not run it inside so we ran it outside along the building wall. I was still on site after start-up cleaning things up when I got a request to paint a fiberglass line. When I looked into it, what the facility wanted was this very same fiberglass line painted. Figure 3 The line was an ugly fiberglass green and ran across the building in front of the light beige colour you see in the Figure 3. Apparently, the facility manager hated it. When driving to the facility this was the first thing you saw, this ugly green line with the light beige backdrop. It was not an easy task as the line was about 100' up in the air, plus it was fiberglass which is not easy to paint. The funny thing was, the facility could have been falling apart and he wouldn't have noticed as he was so obsessed with that fiberglass line.

This is one technique you can use to distract someone (managers?). Give them something inconsequential to focus their attention on and they will leave the big picture alone. We used that technique to buy vehicles. We knew that radios in facility vehicles were looked after by the workers as opposed to vehicles with no radios. So when buying vehicles, we always included cigarette lighters as the approver hated smokers. He would always search for the lighter, cross it out, and ignore the radio.

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