Graycor Industrial Constructors recently completed a Wet Flue Gas Desulfurization (WFGD) system at Northern Indiana Public Service Company's (NIPSCO) R.M. Schahfer Generating Station located in Wheatfield, Indiana. Construction of the project began in 2011, with Unit 14 being completed and in operation by December 2013. In response to more stringent requirements from the Clean Air Act, the WFGD system was installed to further reduce emissions when generating electricity through the burning of fossil fuels. With the new upgrades that were installed, NIPSCO's Schahfer Station is now among the cleanest coal-fired electric generating facilities in Indiana.
Heavy crane lifts, complex piping installations and hundreds of retrofitted pieces of equipment highlighted the work required on this challenging job. For Graycor, the more than 300 local craftsmen-including boilermakers, pipefitters, millwrights, ironworkers and support craft-were crucial to achieving the high goals that were set for the project. By partnering with these local trades along with owner NIPSCO and project designer Sargent and Lundy, LLC, Graycor completed this environmental retrofit on a fast-track schedule, with zero lost-time injuries. Work completed on the nearly 500-acre site included 49,500 feet of installed piping, 400 pieces of retrofitted equipment and an entire wastewater treatment facility. Another unique aspect of the project was the erection of large fiberglass-reinforced plastic tanks. Traditionally, boilermakers erected steel tanks; therefore, with this type of tank erection being performed for the first time in Northwest Indiana, each worker received specialized training prior to work being performed.
In addition to the challenging scope of the project, a condensed schedule forced the project team to develop innovative time-saving solutions. A key component of these solutions was utilizing Graycor's prefabrication capabilities. This involved constructing large, modularized sections, often weighing tens of tons, in a state-of-the-art fabrication facility in Portage, IN and then shipping the components to the job site for final assembly. Graycor assembled 17 modular pipe racks which ranged upwards of 75 feet in length and weighed 35 tons. Over 15,000 feet of piping were modularized onto a three-tier utility track along with more than 1,550 tons of flue gas ductwork. Mobile transporters were then used to bring the massive prefabricated sections on site and directly to the crane hook for just-in-time erection. The controlled shop environment helped to boost productivity, lower safety risks and maintain the high quality standards set for the project.
Graycor's well-practiced safety procedures helped to prevent injuries throughout this project. During the first phases of construction, Graycor was awarded the 'Zero INJURY Safety Award' from the National Maintenance Agreement Policy Committee for self-performing more than 340,000 direct project man-hours without a recordable injury in 2012. For the entire project, Graycor recorded zero lost-time injuries on 640,000 total man-hours that craft employees worked through 2013. Site-specific risk assessments, pre-planning safety meetings and open communication among project participants helped to achieve these goals. In May 2014, Graycor was also awarded the Construction Advancement Foundation (CAF) Industrial-Capital Project of the Year award for high achievements in categories that included construction innovation, safety performance and project management.
Kevin Grooms, Project Director for Graycor Industrial Constructors stated, "We are proud of the commitment to safety and craftsmanship that our teams maintained throughout this challenging project. The prestigious awards and recognition represent the combined focus of all members when it came to the safety of our team and quality of our work, and the results speak for themselves." The Graycor team was thrilled to have been part of this important emissions-reduction project and looks forward to building upon the success with future industrial projects across North America.