Quality and Safety on Wind Projects: How to plan for safety and quality to maximize budget, schedule and wind power production

by Julian Bell, Signal Energy Constructors

Everyone pays a lot of attention to the four major construction issues: safety, quality, schedule and budget.  Of these, safety and quality are typically the least discussed during the project award process.  “Good” quality and safety on wind projects is closely related to “good” cost and schedule, and deserve far more attention. A safe job is completed in less overall time since there is less inefficiency caused by injuries.  Similarly, a quality job is completed in less time since it requires less rework.  It also has less warranty calls and more overall wind power production over time.

In its simplest form, safety is insuring that no one gets injured on the job.  OSHA establishes workplace rules and limits, but they are minimum standards and do not maximize safety in the workplace.  Additionally, the construction industry tracks safety statistics (e.g. as the number of recordable injuries, the Experience Modification Ratio (EMR), the Total Recordable Injury Rate (TRIR), and the Days Away, Restricted, or Transferred (DART) rate) that can help assess a contractor’s safety record compared to other contractors and the industry as a whole.

Safety statistics are important to track, but they are only a part of the evaluation of the effectiveness of a wind contractor’s safety program.  To understand a renewable energy contractor’s safety program you need to understand the philosophy of the program.  On wind projects, where there are numerous dangerous and life-threatening hazards (trenching, electrical work, crane and other heavy equipment work, etc.), it is helpful to look at the following factors of a safety program:

  • Upper level management totally supports the safety program:  Safety truly comes first, and profits later.
  • All employees have “stop work” authority for safety issues.
  • Hazards are identified up front through job hazard analyses and  adequate training is provided.
  • Safety is evaluated through constant “near miss” and incident investigating and analyses, using actual job data as a leading indicator of areas where additional focus may be needed.
  • Safety is an integral part of the job plan (through inspections, safety planning, work permitting process, etc.):  A work permit system authorizes work on a daily basis after potential hazards are identified and discussed.

A good quality program is also essential to a project’s budget and schedule compliance.  Most wind project  designs require adherence to a wide range of engineering standards : IEEE, ANSI, UL,  ASTM, ASCE, to name just a few.  All of these standards are incorporated into the wind project design, and a good team will review these at the outset and determine what should be applied to the project in conjunction with the owner and engineer.

A quality wind project begins with the first request for proposals, long before the actual work starts.  Quality is then carried to final completion and warranty with checks and audits throughout construction to ensure compliance.  A good program treats quality like safety, and empowers all employees with “stop work” authority for quality issues.  In addition, a good wind project quality program will have these attributes:

  • Procedures for document and record control:  Drawings and designs are properly tracked and controlled.
  • Procedures for control of material/equipment purchasing, receiving and inspection:  Material and equipment is inspected and documented.
  • Extensive and specific procedures and guidelines for the performance and inspection of each aspect of the work, with specific substantive quality standards (checklists, etc.) that insure that work has been performed in accordance with the design:  The heart of the quality program are the specific measuring guidelines used to make sure work is completed according to the plans and within engineering standards.

This last item is particularly important.  There is no uniform standard for “quality” in the wind construction industry.  Good contractors have developed these standards on their own for each aspect of their work (road standards, concrete placement and rebar standards, trenching standards, electrical cable placement and termination standards, etc.) and can verify and document their quality on all projects.

Signal Energy’s quality program contains QA/QC (Quality Assurance/Quality Control) “travelers” for each aspect of the work.  These travelers require verification that hundreds of specific work tasks have been properly completed and measurements obtained.  They are an integral part of a comprehensive quality management system that insures that the work is completed according to the design.

In addition to the checks, hold points and audits, a good quality program for a wind construction project should allow the contractor to learn from its experience.  Having a good feedback loop ensures that mistakes are not repeated and the overall operations get better as work continues.

Quality and safety are crucial in adhering to a wind project’s schedule and budget.  Spending time upfront planning for these issues pays off in the end.

Julian Bell is the Director of preconstruction for Signal Energy Constructors. For more information visit: www.signalenergy.com

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Even in an economy that is still far from robust, Barnhart is always looking for ways to expand our services and equipment inventory to better serve our customers. So pardon our enthusiasm and this moment of self-promotion as we announce our recent acquisition of Steel City Crane in the following press release.   

Barnhart Crane and Rigging has reached a definitive agreement with Steel City Crane of Birmingham, Alabama to purchase the assets of the company. For over 50 years, Steel City Crane has offered operated crane service to industrial clients in the southeastern United States from offices in Alabama and Mississippi. Continue reading

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Everyone knows that football is only part of the Super Bowl spectacle.  The half time show featuring a headliner, pyrotechnics, and an occasional wardrobe malfunction brings in its share of viewers.  But when it comes to hype, the ads get as much attention as the game itself.

Super Bowl ads came into their own after Apple’s infamous “1984” spot in, 1984.  Since then, the ads have been their own sideshow, a high-priced slugfest between clydesdales, babies, babes, dalmations, and, this year, even a Doritos-eating goat.

Advertisers pay top dollar for the air time – which this year averaged between $3.7 and #3.8 million per spot – because they know it’s one of the few times that viewers will actually be watching their ad instead of hitting the mute button or heading for the bathroom. Continue reading

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“The Process” Triumphs as Tide Rolls Again

Going into last Monday night’s BCS national championship game, the Alabama Crimson Tide were widely predicted to win.  But no one foresaw the Tide’s total domination and humiliation of Notre Dame in a lopsided 42-12 victory.  Since that night, much has been written about the football dynasty coach Nick Saban has built at the University of Alabama, a school already famous for its football dynasty under Bear Bryant.

Photo credit: al.com

Can enough be said about Saban, the football genius who has won three of the past four national titles and four total in the past ten years?  How does he do it?

Part of Saban’s winning philosophy is known as “The Process”, or process focus.  The Process emphasizes concentrating on the steps to success rather than worrying about the end result.  So instead of focusing on winning and losing, Saban teaches his players to put their effort into those daily activities that cause success. Continue reading

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Continuing our strategy to build a national network, Barnhart is expanding our branches and ability to serve customers. Barnhart recently opened three new offices in Charleston, SC; Owensboro, KY; and Richland, WA which will support project operations.

These branches, along with a fourth recently-acquired Syracuse, NY location, expand the company’s geographical footprint in some key areas. In addition, the company is relocating operations of their Portland, OR branch to Seattle, WA to meet the growing demands of its markets in the Pacific Northwest – bringing its branch network to more than 24 locations.

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Gene Kaercher, Director Safety & Quality for Barnhart Crane, will lead a free ITI Showcase Webinar on Friday, November 30th entitled,

“Tackling the Challenges of Training Site Supervisors, Lift Directors, and Other Leaders”.
3:00 p.m. ET

The webinar is intended to deliver world-class resources, ideas, and instruction to HSE, Training, and Crane & Rigging Managers, as well as other leaders throughout organizations worldwide.   The ITI Showcase Webinar Series is hosted by Industrial Training International  and features diverse industry leaders and topics.  Continue reading

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It’s been a harrowing week for the eastern seaboard and the city of New York has had particular challenges.  Not only were they facing “Frankenstorm” which swept into the New Jersey shore on Monday night, but another nightmarish scenario that unfolded earlier that day on 57th street.

At approximately, 2:35 pm, the arm of a high-rise crane perched atop One57 Street, a 90-story skyscraper under construction, was “ lifted and flipped” over the cab from wind gusts of up to 60 mph from approaching Hurricane Sandy.  The sight of a collapsed crane arm, dangling 1000 feet above 57th Street, added to the anxiety of a city already bracing for a hurricane. Continue reading

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Barnhart Crane & Rigging is expanding into Syracuse, New York with the recent acquisition of C&S Crane and Rigging Company.  C&S served industrial, commercial and public sector customers throughout upstate New York since 2008 with 15 to 200 ton cranes as well as specialized rigging equipment.

“This is an extremely positive move for both companies,” said Alan Barnhart, CEO of Barnhart.  “With this new branch we will be able to better serve our customers in this area, particularly those in renewable and nuclear energy.” Continue reading

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Myths About Giving

At Barnhart, one of our Core Values is Profit with a Purpose. Everyone has a purpose for the profit that they generate. Barnhart has simply decided to make the purpose explicit. Please do not read this blog as a claim to having achieved any of the goals we have set for ourselves. It is simply offered as an explanation of what we aspire to, and what we hope will be reflected in the activity of the company.

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Barnhart Crane has been called to do some unusual things. For example, we installed several 3,000 lb bronze sculptures by Fernando Botero outside a Memphis Museum.  We moved an antique locomotive to Minute Maid Park, the Houston Astros baseball stadium.   We transported an 800-ton stator to a Mississippi nuclear power plant.

Yes, we’ve had jobs that could be considered whoppers.  But we’ve never actually moved a whopper.

A 2014-pound bacon-cheeseburger, that is. Continue reading

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