Welcome! – H+M’s Industrial Design, Engineering, and Construction Blog

We are excited to introduce H+M’s industrial design, engineering, and construction blog! We are an industrial EPC company serving the oil & gas, chemical, and petrochemical industry along the TX gulf coast.

We plan to use this blog to share our thoughts and ideas on industrial EPC processes. Our employees are our strongest assets and have decades of experience. We hope to use this forum to showcase their talents as well as inform others with our experience and expertise.

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Remote IO Cabinets versus Junction Boxes in Industrial Control Systems

 

 

 

Contributed by Justin Grubbs, P.E. – I&E Department Manager

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Remote IO Cabinets versus Junction Boxes in Industrial Control Systems

With the modern advances in control systems architecture and communications protocols, the technology available to us today is leaps and bounds above what it was in the era of relay and timer logic as well as the first few generations of Programmable Logic Controllers (PLC). Given the tools available to us today, isn’t it time we realign our thinking when it comes to the practical implementation of control systems? The days where we were required to house all of the control systems hardware components in a centralized location are no more. Improvements in the efficiency, reliability, redundancy, and cost of networking components have allowed us the opportunity to provide a more robust, expandable, and cost-effective design.

In earlier iterations of industrial control system solutions, the flexibility of the installation was limited by the type of communications used. In most cases, these used a type of serial communications which is extremely limited in speed and distance in comparison to the modern-day performance of PLCs. With the ever-growing rates of data transfer and speeds at which the data is needed diminishing, the only way for continued growth is to advance to faster, more efficient communications protocols such as Ethernet/IP. Imagine attempting to pull up real-time data on a turbine running at 10,000+ RPM on an RS-232 serial communications interface, or to put it in modern terms, attempting to watch your favorite cat video on the internet via a dial-up internet connection. In one case, you’ll have to wait a very long time to see the cat; in the other case, there could be a catastrophic failure on the order of millions of dollars due to the latency in response time. However, with the speeds and distances which are achievable with modern copper and fiber Ethernet communications, limitations for where PLC hardware is located is no longer an issue.

In a traditional PLC design, a typical implementation for a large industrial facility was to have several locations (junction boxes) scattered throughout the facility where field instrumentation would be wired via individual cables. These junction boxes serve as a splice point to allow for larger multi-pair or multi-conductor (home run) cables to connect back to the central control system cabinet which held the marshaling terminals and PLC hardware. With this method, each cable running to an end device had at least 4 terminations (at the PLC, at the home run side of the junction box, at the field side of the junction box, and at the end device). This means that there are at least two added points of failure or potential for error for every single conductor. With almost any modern PLC, we can now locate IO modules remotely in the field (remote IO or RIO cabinets). Rather than having multiple single points of failure in each cable, we can build redundancy in the communications architecture of the PLC system and almost entirely remove a potential for having a single point of failure. As one can see in figures 1 and 2 below, the traditional junction box design has twice the number of terminations as a RIO cabinet design. Additionally, if any one of the blue cables were cut, there would be a failure on multiple instruments. With a RIO cabinet design, if any of the red cables were to be cut, there is no loss in data as this is a redundant ring type of network. From an expandability standpoint, when a traditional junction box design requires expansion, multiple large cables must be run at potentially long distances to connect the new field IO to the main PLC. In order to bring field IO to the main PLC with a RIO cabinet design, all that need be run is two small communications cables regardless of the size of the expansion.

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As with most design implementations, an ever-present determining factor is cost. On the surface, it may seem that a RIO cabinet design is more costly due the additional networking components required. It is true that additional Ethernet and fiber cards, patch panels, and switches are needed; however once construction is factored in, the overall cost is much less. In the above example figures, the cost of the PLC hardware is very similar, the only significant cost differences being additional communications cards and power supplies. The enclosures required for the RIO cabinets are larger than traditional junction boxes and also typically must be purged with dry air or nitrogen if located in a hazardous (electrically classified) location. When comparing the cost of only the PLC hardware, enclosures, and communications components, the cost for the RIO cabinets will be roughly 10% more depending on the size of the implementation. When comparing the cost of the cabling, conduit, cable tray, bulk construction materials, and labor, there is a cost savings with a RIO implementation on the order of 30-50%. One can see this when comparing the size and magnitude of terminations and cables between Figures 1 and 2 (red versus blue cables). In a junction box implementation, there is a minimum of 4 additional terminations per IO. This cost is magnified when considering all of the additional cabling and raceways it takes to wire between the junction boxes and PLC cabinet. All of these factors result in additional field labor and consumable construction materials.

When comparing all factors of a traditional implementation with a RIO cabinet implementation, there really is no comparison. With the speeds and fault-tolerant construction of modern networking components, the drawbacks of relying on a network are all but gone. The expandability of a networked control system is very flexible and nearly limitless without the worry of needing excessive raceway space. Add these factors to the fact that the total installed cost of a RIO system is much less than that of a junction box design and it is hard to argue why one wouldn’t choose a RIO system.

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Justin Grubbs H+M Industrial EPC

Justin Grubbs, P.E. – I&E Department Manager at H+M Industrial EPC

B.S. in Electrical Engineering

Justin has +8 years of industrial engineering, construction, and commissioning experience. He has experience with design, engineering, and construction including but not limited to: leading I&E construction, developing plant control documents, directing control systems programming personnel, performing factory and site acceptance testing of electrical/process analyzation/control systems equipment, designing power distribution and motor starting systems, stamping and submitting electrical permitting packages, directing commissioning efforts, developing instrumentation specifications, validating engineering data, specifying I&E material, and training operations personnel. With previous EPC experience from Optimized Process Designs, LLC – a subsidiary of Koch Chemical Technology Group – Justin joined H&M in 2014 to lead the I&E department.

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Success Factors for Pipe Design and Stress Analysis in Heavy Industrial Facilities

 

 

Contributed by Brian C. Gray, P.E., Lead Mechanical Engineer

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Success Factors for Pipe Design and Stress Analysis in Heavy Industrial Facilities

Drive by or walk into any refinery, power plant, chemical plant, or petrochemical facility anywhere in the U.S. or abroad, and you invariably notice one of the most predominant and common features between them all:  the systems of piping.  While steel structures, mechanical and electrical equipment, and buildings fill in most of the other available space, these facilities are often defined and characterized by the miles of sophisticated networks of piping that form the arteries of production and ultimately equate to revenue and cash flow for the owner of the plant.  How this piping is designed and constructed has a direct correlation to the successful operation, maintenance, and reliability of the facility, and also to the profitability and performance of the engineering, procurement, and construction entities responsible for its design.

The Foundation of Successful Piping Design and Stress Analysis

From the standpoint of design, a piping system must meet the following tenets and be:

  • Structurally safe for the facility personnel and the public at large,
  • Materially compatible with the solids, liquids, or gases for the process in the associated external environment,
  • Economically constructible,
  • Accessible for maintenance and operations around equipment and structures, and
  • In full compliance with all requirements and provisions of the appropriate American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) or other construction codes and pertinent client standards.

It is this last bullet where piping designers and engineers spend much of their time to physically layout the piping systems and analytically evaluate them for flexibility, structural integrity, and their impacts on other structures, equipment, and components.  Pipe stress analysis is the primary mechanism to determine the acceptability of the piping system along its extent and at all of its connections.  Conversely, the pipe stress analysis phase is often where some of the most costly oversights and critical misses occur on a design/build project.

The Business Impacts of Pipe Stress Analysis

On a typical medium (>$10 million) or large (>$100 million) heavy industrial project, it is not uncommon for the piping to represent anywhere from 40% to 50% of the total installed cost of the project factoring in the engineering, materials, labor, inspection, and turnover/commissioning involved.  If equipment size, layout, or accessibility is not appropriately taken into consideration, the pipe stress analysis efforts can take considerably longer to complete and result in an overly complicated and more expensive piping system to fabricate, install, and inspect, not to mention cause delays or busts in the overall project schedule.

From past, personal experience, I can say without hesitation that it is a very humbling experience to listen to a client’s project team deeply and sharply criticize a final constructed piping arrangement and require extensive modifications prior to system turnover and acceptance.  At that point, the entire EPC team has failed the client, and even if the “redo” meets their needs, the stigma and bad feelings will linger and can impact the financial performance on that project and even eliminate any opportunity to perform future work for them.  Also, the heavy industrial world is a lot smaller than it seems, and word of mouth (or email, text, etc.) can travel fast and potentially jeopardize opportunities with other current or potential clients.

Collaborate and Engage to Ensure Pipe Stress Analysis Success

A successful pipe stress analysis begins early in a project and affects all parties associated with the job.  The piping designers and engineers must be fully engaged with the Project Team at the onset of a project to evaluate the proposed general arrangement for a new facility or how the piping or new equipment will be introduced into an existing facility.  The piping designers and engineers must work closely with the process engineers to understand the overall P&IDs—especially any piping configuration vital to the process itself—and correctly integrate the piping into the facility tie points.  Interaction with the civil/structural group on foundation locations, pipe racks, and miscellaneous steel is critical to the routing and proper support of the piping system.  Additionally, coordinating the pipe routing with the electrical and instrumentation group is essential for the proper layout and spacing of cable trays, quantifying material and layout for heat tracing, and ensuring correct piping arrangement for in-line instrumentation and instrument connections.

The working relationship between piping designers and engineers must be seamless and involve collaboration early in the job to address critical piping and the incorporation of flexibility into the design during initial routing, rather than cycling through numerous iterations of the piping layout later in the project when schedule and the impact of change management becomes much more critical.  It is equally essential to keep Project Management aware of piping progress and to review issues before they happen or as early as possible.  Such collaboration can head off potential problems and may even serve to get the client involved to provide insights and recommendations based on past experiences that incorporate a more holistic approach to the piping design.  Lastly, the pipe stress analysis may require an equipment vendor to structurally modify or augment its equipment to handle loads that exceed allowable values.  Such a solution can often be more economical and better for the project schedule as opposed to modifying the piping system directly, especially in areas of high constraint or limited spacing.

Pipe stress analysis is a complicated and time-consuming process that requires competent and experienced personnel working with the right tools and collaborating effectively with many other disciplines and project stakeholders.  If involved early in the design phase of a project, the piping team can properly account for the complexity and known variables of the process, layout, and constraints present to best ensure that the piping portion of a job is executed safely, is done correctly per the construction code and client’s standards, and can directly lead to a satisfied customer ready to work with you again on the next project.

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Brian Gray, P.E. – Lead Mechanical Engineer

B.S. in Mechanical Engineering, MBA w/ Project Management

Brian has more than 20 years of industrial engineering experience in engineering and project settings. His past experiences includes detailed mechanical equipment design and specifications, piping system designs, and extensive project engineering in the power, chemical, and refinery industries, from simple engineering-only projects up to and including full EPC turnkey deliveries, and key management roles in engineering for Lauren Engineers & Constructors, Inc., in Dallas, TX.

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Service Companies and the Importance of Repeat Business

 

 

Contributed by Brandon Hogan, P.E., Operations Manager 

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Service Companies and the Importance of Repeat Business

Engineering, Procurement, Construction (EPC) projects are hard and a very difficult field to work in. Every project is unique. Every client is different. Even within a given client company, project managers may have varying preferences with regards to project execution. As contractors, our job is to figure out how to make the client successful, while satisfying the safety, logistical and technical requirements of the job. The client must agree that the project was successful or working for them again won’t come to pass. This is a big deal. Service companies are dependent on repeat business.

Why the dependency on repeat business?

The world is small. Especially the world of oil, gas and chemicals. It seems as though this market is huge, and it is, in terms of capital. However, in terms of numbers, it is small. There are a relatively small number of owner/operating companies that support a large number of service companies. The only way to sustain a healthy client base is to ensure a strong foundation of strong core/repeat customers.

Necessary components for repeat business:

1) Safety
2) The perception from all stakeholders that the project went well
3) A finished product that meets quality expectations
4) A product that meets budget expectations
5) A product that meets schedule expectations

This business is about partnerships.

For EPC companies, the goal is to be a client’s go-to company for years to come, not just for one project. Decisions should be made that are in the best interest of the partnership long term, as opposed to short sighted ones. Organizations must take into account the value of projected future income instead of looking at a project in a silo. Every project taken on or site accessed should be viewed with pride. The intent should be to continue to work there indefinitely. The way to get this done is to be the best at what you do, and to serve your client in a way that makes them successful.

It takes a long time to acquire a new client in our business, sometimes a year or more. There is a significant cost in this, both in real dollars and time, but also in opportunity cost that could have been spent pursuing other business. Once a client is obtained, the relationship should be nurtured and not taken for granted. The easiest way to do this is with responsiveness and respect. When a client calls, call them back. Answer their questions and take ownership in the relationship. Always get them the help they need. Be respectful and nice. The clients pay the bills.

It is not just the client that needs attention. All project stakeholders should be identified at the beginning of a project, and their satisfaction should also be maintained throughout. For example, the 3rd party inspector is also a stakeholder and deserves to be satisfied.

Work safe, smart, hard, and never be idle. A large part of what a client thinks is in the hands of its employees. Good client/employee interaction is a big part of maintaining a long-term relationship. The importance of this should be emphasized from upper management. Everyone who interacts with a client, whether it be by email, in person, or by phone, should think of themselves as a salesperson for their organization.

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Brandon Hogan, P.E. – Operations Manager at H+M Industrial EPC

B.S. in Chemical Engineering, MBA

Brandon has more than 14 years of industrial engineering experience in operations and project settings. Responsibilities included managing the operations of the Engineering, Procurement and Construction divisions. His past experience includes over 10 years of engineering with The Lubrizol Corporation in Deer Park including process design, capital project management and engineering optimization.

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The Business Case for Safety

 

 

Contributed by Matt McQuinn – Director of Construction

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The Business Case for Safety

H+M Industrial - The Business Case for Safety

In our industry there are several measures of success used to evaluate a project upon completion. Some of these measures include:

  • Meeting the customer’s objective
  • Turning over a quality product
  • Completing the project within the approved schedule and budget
  • And many more…

Undoubtedly, the single most important measure of success, from both the customer and contractor, is completing the job without someone getting hurt.  Why is it always about HSE?  The goal, first and foremost, is to get each employee back home to their family each night. However, for all organizations alike, there are many added layers from a business perspective that make HSE excellence imperative to their success.

Customer Perception

When stepping into a new situation, we use our own perspective to immediately form first impressions. It’s human nature. What is the first thing that you take note of when you step into a plant? General plant condition? Cleanliness? Operations interest in your activities? Although you can’t tell from the surface whether or not the plant meets all of its operational goals, EPA requirements, or OSHA targets, you will leave with your first impression. These are not soon forgotten.

Now consider a customer stepping onto a construction site for the first time, what are they taking note of? Barricades well maintained? Everyone wearing gloves to handle material? Working scaffolds clear from tools and debris? Accessible locations for water and trash? All these things define how we manage and operate our projects. If we are getting the basics right, confidence is instilled that the less visible components are also being handled appropriately. All team members may be doing exactly what they need to be doing but for a customer who may only spend 5-10 minutes on-site, they will form their first impression from what’s on the surface (i.e. general housekeeping and PPE usage). Good housekeeping is integral to a safe job-site. It shows a level of respect to the customer that we care about the opportunity to work together with them at their facility.

Business Model & Why It Matters

For example, as an EPC Contractor serving the Gulf Coast region, there is a finite number of industrial facilities which have the project types that we execute, many of which owned by the same company. We currently provide services to a large number of these customers and our business model is dependent on repeat business. Projects with repeat customers are generally more profitable because you are familiar with their requirements which allow you to work more efficiently. This, in turn, allows contractors to optimize their bid which also results in greater cost savings for the customer. It’s a win-win. If the perception exists that a contractor cannot work safely, repeat customers will turn into previous customers.

Most customers have a distribution network that automatically emails out incident reports from a project site to various levels of management. In cases where a contractor has continued events or incidents on-site, a customer’s upper management team receiving these notifications of HSE incidents will form their perception that contractor, likely without even meeting their team. Unfortunately, these perceptions are almost impossible to revert and will negatively affect the ability to work at their facilities.

Business Development teams work extremely hard to build relationships with new customers. Since building confidence and trust can take 1-2 years before quality projects start rolling through the door, it is increasingly difficult to replace valued customers. Part of the pre-qualification process for new customers is a review of HSE statistics, hence the importance to work safely to keep numbers such as EMR and TRIR down. It is important to continue to consistently demonstrate to customers that creating an atmosphere that fosters safe work is simply how business in this industry is done.

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Matt McQuinn H+M Industrial EPC

Matt McQuinn – Director of Construction at H+M Industrial EPC

B.S. in Mechanical Engineering

Matt has more than 10 years of industrial engineering, construction, and commissioning experience in both domestic and foreign project settings. Responsibilities include: engineering drawing and specification interpretation; resource planning and allocation; project schedule analysis; constructability reviews; contracting strategies and management. With previous EPC contracting experience for CB&I, Matt joined H+M in 2014 to lead the construction efforts.

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Triple Constraint: Fast, Good, Cheap (Speed, High Quality, Low Cost)

 

 

Contributed by Kevin Bautz, Senior Project Manager

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Triple Constraint: Fast, Good, Cheap (Speed, High Quality, Low Cost)

Kevin Bautz H+M Industrial EPC

Speed.  High quality.  Low cost.  However you phrase it, we live within these parameters every day both in our personal and professional lives.  The goal for most is to have all three together. But when you step back and look at what you are actually requesting, it can be explained by the cliché:  You want to have your cake and eat it too…and not get fat.

Fast, good, cheap. Speed, high quality, low cost. These terms combined are known by a variety of names often referred to as the “Project Management Triangle”, “Triple Constraint”, or “The Iron Triangle”. I definitely do not know everything there is about this topic, I can just speak to my personal experiences.  What I want to do is help give an awareness and present something for you to think about that will hopefully drive you to perform some research of your own.

 

triple constraint

 

Take a quick look and you will see there is tons of information on the subject.  Many argue that you can completely have all three, while others think that is unattainable. Both sides of the argument are defendable. I tend to side with the argument that you cannot have all three in perfect harmony, there is always some type of tradeoff.  Even though you can have a project that is perceived as fast, good, and cheap, I interpret the triangle to say you cannot MAXIMIZE all three together. There is always a compromise between the constraints.

What do you notice about the terms fast, good, and cheap?  Are they concrete?  What/who defines fast?  How do we know if something is cheap?  If it is good, can it be better?  The terms are relative and can be subjective.  Each requires an established benchmark to determine if the goal has been met or exceeded.  Once you have that benchmark in place, it is oftentimes difficult to determine if the parameter has been truly maximized.  My experiences in production and projects have opened my eyes to the different constraint combinations. This experience has helped me determine which to maximize, because there is always a tradeoff, for each application.

In production, we wanted all three but would often tradeoff quality for the other two.  This was common because we had a higher tolerance for quality than for cost and speed.  The quality tolerance allowed for saleable products with some variation.  The main goal was to be efficient: high speed with low cost.  This was true for the production environments I experienced, but I do understand it can be quite different in other industries.

In the business of projects and project management quality is rarely, if ever, intentionally sacrificed.  Quality outlives the project life cycle.  Speed and cost are “here and now” parameters, while quality is present for the entire post-project existence.  Days to years after the completion of an EPC project, people will continue to either criticize or complement what they see in the field.  Operators who use the results of the project will curse those who made the operability difficult. They will praise those who provided a clean, understandable, sound design and installation.

Quality is a given.  So where does that leave speed and cost?  I have found these are the two constraints that are most commonly discussed at the start of a project.  We always want to know:  What is more important, speed or cost?  From this exchange, proper decision making can take place and a project can meet (or exceed) the expectations of its stakeholders.

We live in a world of constant balance, always trying to do things better, faster, smarter, and stronger.  When working for or with a company, the ability to understand and accept constraints as reality is crucial.  By listening to clients to figure out the right mix, the chances of successfully completing a project and building lasting relationships increases.

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KevinBautz

Kevin Bautz – Senior Project Manager at H+M Industrial EPC

B.S. in Chemical Engineering

Kevin has more than 13 years of industrial engineering experience in operations and project settings. His past experience ranges from process and equipment engineering in semiconductors, process simulation engineer for the oil & gas and chemical industries, and key management roles in engineering and operations for The Sun Products Corporation in Pasadena, TX and Bowling Green, KY. Kevin joined H+M in 2014.

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The Big Picture – Taking a step back to get a big picture perspective.

 

 

Contributed by Chris Chandler – Design Coordinator

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The Big Picture – Taking a step back to get a big picture perspective.

Engineering projects are comprised of multiple parts, basically, just many components intertwined together. Projects include any possible combination of disciplines such as process, civil, structural, mechanical, piping, instrument, and electrical.  Each has their own segments that include calculations, design, drafting, and so on. On top of that, each department must keep track of documents, the latest revisions and the most current design of the other disciplines. There is an enormous amount of items to keep track of. Taking a step back and making sure you have a clear understanding of the big picture will increase the success of the project completion.

Steps to see the big picture:

  • Support Communication – Keep the team on the same page.
  • Set Clear Project Parameters – Steer the team in the right direction.
  • Develop a Strong Project Team – Align the skills of team members to match the project.
  • Encourage Self-Motivation – Make sure the team is engaged.
  • Schedule Milestones for Project Checking – Be reactive throughout the project.
  • Be Flexible – Expect the unexpected.

The process of pulling together an engineering project is much easier if you are able to step back and view the project as a whole. Communication between all disciplines is key to this. It is sometimes easy for that to fall through the cracks. If we cannot foresee the needs of other project members, we may be shooting ourselves in the foot. Without clear and supported communication, other members of our team could be backed into a corner which could lead to costly rework.

When working on an interdepartmental team, it is important to be clear about goals. It is also vital to clearly understand each part of the project, consider flexibility with the project plan, and take into account the other members on the team and what your decision means for them. When you are trying to charge forward to meet your particular schedule and budget, taking a step back may not be possible. In reality, though, it can help the effectiveness of the project team. While setting parameters and goals, take time to develop the right team to get the job done as efficiently as possible. Once the appropriate team is established, team engagement is an important next step. Encourage the team to speak up, reward the team for a job well done, focus on collaboration and clarify responsibilities.

A lot of seasoned designers like me want to do a big part of the designing and drafting on projects ourselves because we are comfortable knowing that “we did it” and feel less back checking will be needed. By actively looking at the project as a whole, we can keep the composite rate of design minimized if we utilize less costly drafters where appropriate. Project milestones are important to, in a way, force the group to check back with other parts of the team. It is better to be reactive and catch something now, rather than later. When things come up, flexibility can save the project and the team morale. Team members must be held accountable but changes should still be an option if applicable.

This write-up focuses on engineering projects but the importance of looking at the “big picture” is as equally true for EPC projects. If the engineers and designers cannot see the desired final product and foresee the needs of the fabrication shop or field installation crew, then costly downtime or rework is probable.  Using these steps and maintaining the ability to look at the overall project from a high level will save time and money, on any size project, in the end.

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Chris Chandler H+M Industrial EPC

Chris Chandler – Design Coordinator at H+M Industrial EPC 

Chris has more than 30 years experience in piping design, coordination, and project management in industrial settings. His project design and supervision responsibilities have ranged from small capital projects to multimillion dollar projects. Chris has worked at H&M for ten years, with previous work experience at Jacobs, CDI, Enterprise Products and Mustang Engineering.

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Pre-Task Planning: Building a Proactive Safety Culture

 

 

Contributed by Jay Bice – HSE Manager

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Pre-Task Planning: Building a Proactive Safety Culture

Many things have changed over the last 20 years in the industrial industry, however, the belief that “it will never happen to me” is not one of them. I repeatedly hear employees say, “I never could have imagined I would smash my finger” or “I never thought I would trip and break my leg on the extension cord that is always laying out.” Truthfully, we all assume this idea at some point in our lives.

The false belief that experience makes you invulnerable is a key contributor to accidents. Complacency can be the most dangerous mindset and claims countless victims every day. How do people get complacent enough that they will do something that they know contributes to making an error, such as texting while driving or not using proper fall protection while working at height? Everyone gets complacent with things they have done repeatedly however, there are methods to change this behavior, such as pre-task planning.

Pre-task planning, such as a JSA or JHA, allows for the safety culture to be transformed from a reactive “fix what caused the accident” culture to a proactive “find and fix hazards before the accident happens” one. Companies should not be simply reacting after something dangerous happens. They should strive to identify and eliminate hazards before an accident occurs. If a company can discover hazards when they are in an early stage and eliminate them, it improves system reliability and minimizes risk of an incident occurring. This, in turn, avoids system shutdowns and saves money.  For example, if a large leak is detected, a plant may need to shut down for a number of days to remedy the situation. Being able to predict the failure and fix it before it fails will result in significant financial savings.

Some basic steps to pre-task planning include:

  1. Defining the work assignment
    • What is the task at hand?
    • What written procedures, policies, and specifications need to be reviewed?
  2.  Identifying all job hazards
    • What could go wrong?
    • What is the worst thing that could happen if something does go wrong?
  3. Devising hazard controls
    • Do I have all the necessary training and knowledge to do this job properly?
    • Do I have all the proper tools and PPE?
  4. Performing work with new hazard controls
    • How will task be performed within the identified hazard controls?
    • How will this change the basic approach to performing the task at hand?
  5. Reviewing controls and providing feedback
    • What changes to the scope of work or hazard control measures occur?
    • What work processes need to be reviewed?

Effective pre-task planning will transform your safety culture from reactive to proactive by encouraging all levels of employees to actively participate in identifying and solving problems, reducing complacency and embodying the spirit of continuous improvement, and increasing overall safety awareness. The challenge is to engage your employees in a manner where they become empowered to complete and communicate a quality JSA or be an active participant in the company behavior-based safety process. The basics of hazard identification are a critical component to creating a safe workplace. As Benjamin Franklin said, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.”

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Jay Bice H+M Industrial EPC

Jay Bice – HSE Manager at H+M Industrial EPC

Certificate of Technology in Occupational Health and Safety 

Jay has more than 20 years of industrial health and safety, experience in construction, pipeline environmental services and petrochemical facilities. He is responsible for developing and executing safety and health policy and objectives for H+M, as well as any sub-contractor workforce all of which represents exposure of a high risk nature. Jay provides management oversight to various safety and occupational health related programs. These programs include injury prevention, fire and emergency services, behavior safety, drug and alcohol prevention, training and occupational health. Jay is a member of the American Society of Safety Engineers.

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Advantages of LED Lighting in Industrial and Hazardous Environments

 

 

Contributed by Justin Grubbs, P.E. – I&E Department Manager

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Advantages of LED Lighting in Industrial and Hazardous Environments

Advantages of LED Lighting in Industrial and Hazardous Environments

Technology continues to develop and improve in the electronics industry. Solid state electronics continually become more and more energy efficient, smaller in size, and more cost effective to manufacture. The advancements made in this field translate to a wide variety of electrical components. One of these is energy-efficient lighting such as light emitting diode (LED) luminaires. LED lighting has a great number of benefits over traditional High-intensity Discharge (HID) lighting such as Metal Halide or High Pressure Sodium lamps, the main benefits being a large increase in energy efficiency and the life of the lamp.

In an industrial hazardous environment, there can be a large amount of time spent to change a bulb in a traditional HID luminaire. The amount of time spent by maintenance personnel to acquire the correct replacement bulb, fill out hot work permits, job hazard analysis, execute lock out tag out procedures, locate equipment needed such as a man lift, and physically change the bulb adds up over the life of the fixture. This is a very important task as lack of sufficient lighting is a safety concern and can lead to a hazardous condition. For a traditional Metal Halide lamp operated for 12 hours a day, the bulb will need to be replaced an average of every 2.5 years. LED lighting is rated to maintain an acceptable light output for 13.7 years when operated 12 hours a day at an ambient temperature of 131°F, this goes up to 45.7 years at an ambient temperature of 77°F.

The initial cost investment of LED luminaires is approximately 35-40% more, however they consume approximately 20% less energy than a comparable HID luminaire. Additionally, the cost of other materials for the installation of an LED lighting system is much less than that of an HID system. Since the load of LED luminaires is less than HID luminaires, there are fewer feeder breakers needed, fewer lighting contactors needed, and smaller cable can be used which translates to taking up less space in cable trays and using smaller conduit and fittings.

As an example installation, take a project needing a relatively small area of illumination such as a barge/ship dock which is classified as an NEC Class 1, Division 2, group C&D area. Assume that a quantity of 30 Metal Halide HID flood light luminaires rated at 250W are sufficient for the lighting requirements of this area. Comparably, a quantity of 30 LED luminaires rated at 149W will also be sufficient for the lighting needed. The given cost variables are as follows:

  • Cost of LED luminaire is 38% more than HID
  • Maintenance time to change 1 bulb is 4 man-hours total (including permitting and LOTO) at a rate of $60/hour
  • The lighting operates 12 hours a day
  • Replacement HID lamps are $12
  • Energy cost is $0.06/kWhr

The annual energy savings with LED luminaires will be just under $1,100, the annual lamp and maintenance savings will be $3,000. The additional initial investment of the LED luminaires over the HID version will be returned in energy and maintenance savings after 1.5 years. The LED fixtures will completely pay for themselves after 5.3 years, and are rated to continue to operate for another 8.4 years before needing maintenance (in modern fixtures, changing an LED cluster is the same amount of man-hours as changing a traditional bulb). This is for a worst case constant ambient temperature of 131°F; for an ambient temperature of 77°F, it will be 40.4 years after the LEDs have completely paid for themselves before maintenance is needed.

The above example does not take into account the cost reduction in materials needed for installation of the LED luminaires. In this project example, if the luminaires are installed on a 120V system, 4 circuits would be needed for the HID version, whereas only 2 circuits would be needed for the LED version. This results in less breakers purchased, smaller wire/conduit/cable tray needed, less photocells, and fewer lighting contactor circuits. All of these will result in reduced construction labor and material costs.

To summarize, the technology of hazardous area LED luminaires has come a long way since their inception. They continue to become lower in cost, increasingly more energy efficient, and have various configurations of lighting clusters so that the distribution of light can vary from a large oval shape, to a long narrow beam, or an intense spot light. LEDs can also be specified as being a full spectrum cool white or warm white, rather than the light spectrum limitations of Metal Halide and High Pressure Sodium HID lighting. Though the initial investment of LED luminaires is more than comparable HID lighting, an LED installation will have a long-term significant cost savings over HID.

References:

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Justin Grubbs H+M Industrial EPC

Justin Grubbs, P.E. – I&E Department Manager at H+M Industrial EPC

B.S. in Electrical Engineering

Justin has more than 7 years of industrial engineering, construction and commissioning experience. He has experience with designing, engineering, leading I&E construction, developing plant control documents, directing commissioning efforts, overseeing instrumentation specifications, validating engineering data, specifying I&E material and training operations personnel.

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Squad Checking – Project success depends on it.

 

 

Contributed by David Bull, Engineering Manager

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Squad Checking – Project success depends on it.  

In the design/build environment there is a huge amount of overlap between disciplines. Everything is connected in one way or another. Project progress often depends on the validity of the previous steps. A lack of communication and checking between the engineering disciplines increases the chance of inaccuracies and costly construction fixes.

Squad Checking is a practice that should be employed to help combat this issue throughout all organizations where interdisciplinary work is taking place. This method is something we use extensively at our company to limit surprises. The steps taken to conduct a successful squad check change from project to project depending on the client and the team, but the overall premise is the same.

Why do a Squad Check?

Inaccuracies. No one is perfect. Most teams in this type of work environment are formed by combining diverse backgrounds and expertise. These differences create great teams when a strong foundation for communication is built from the get go. Miscommunication and/or mistakes are never wanted, but they happen. Squad checks help improve accuracy by catching things that other disciplines either miss, were not properly communicated, or cause interference. In the end, this could help save a substantial amount of time and money for a project.

When do a Squad Check?

Problems in engineering can lead to extensive issues down the road. This makes it most important to Squad Check during the engineering side of a project. It is much cheaper to fix things during the engineering and design phase rather during the construction phase. The costliness of construction changes should be explained throughout the team. By understanding the consequences, the entire team will become aware of what can happen when a project stage is rushed through and left unchecked.

Steps to Squad Checking

  1. Have a clear team structure.
    a. Make sure everyone involved in the project knows their role and the roles of the other disciplines. Take time to point out who is responsible for what. This will make things clear as the project moves forward.
  2. Provide all the information to the team.
    a. Make sure all important project documents are up to date and available to the entire team. If changes are made, make sure that is known immediately.
  3. Set up a timeline.
    a. Make sure that Squad Checks happen at the right times. A few good times include when critical parts of the design are being finalized, during equipment layout, and before issuing any items to customers.

If you do this during your project it will help ensure its health and validity. Great things can happen for the client when teams are set up for success, have accountability and work towards a common goal.

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David Bull H+M Industrial EPC

David Bull – Engineering Manager at H+M Industrial EPC

B.S. in Chemical Engineering, MBA

David has more than 13 years of industrial engineering experience in operations and project settings. Responsibilities include: process design, optimization and debottlenecking; capital project management; and process unit management. With previous experience in operations for the Dow Chemical Company, David has worked at H+M for the past year in project management.

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Lessons from Eleven Years in the Business – Honesty is Key

 

 

Contributed by Brad Sawyer, Business Development Manager

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Lessons from Eleven Years in the Business – Honesty is Key

H+M Industrial EPC Honesty is Key

I have learned a variety of lessons after 11 years of business development in the Houston Petrochemical industry. Some things were learned the easy way and some…the hard way.  Below are a few of the things that I have learned since I started, things I’m still learning, and why they have helped me.

Relationships Matter

The first thing I learned was that relationships play a bigger role than any text book or professional sales expert would like to admit.  You can learn all of the tricks on professional selling but at the end of the day people will be more likely to give you an opportunity if they like you, assuming you have a competitive product to offer that is.  As human beings, we all act on emotion to some extent. Yes, this includes the decision makers we target.  My mentor told me when I first started in this business that “if people like you, they will find a way to give you an opportunity”.

My main/only objective in my first meeting with a new customer is to get a second meeting. Developing business in this industry is very slow moving and mostly reluctant to change, and most decision makers won’t give you an opportunity on the first visit anyways.  You have no chance of ever doing business with someone if they won’t meet or talk with you.  The whole objective of the first meeting, and every meeting after that, is to be able to have this particular customer meet with you the next time you reach out to them.  Customers will continue to meet with you if they feel comfortable with you. They get comfortable when you develop a personal relationship with them.  Starting out the relationship with a heavy sales pitch can oftentimes make a meeting awkward, therefore making it very difficult to get another meeting.  I feel that as long as customers agree to keep meeting with you, they intend to eventually give you a chance at earning their business.  As soon as they stop meeting with you, the odds of a future opportunity decrease significantly.

You Can’t Know It All

Another lesson I feel I have learned through the years is to never act like you know the answer when you don’t.  People in this business are smart. They probably know more about their needs, and what you’re selling, than you do.  If you come across as a technical expert on your product, your customer will view you as their resource for your product.  If you don’t truly know what you are talking about, then it will be a bad reflection on your company’s product.

Always be comfortable saying when you don’t know an answer. If you don’t know what you’re talking about, your customers will either know or they will eventually find out.  This is a very technical industry and no one knows everything, so it’s alright to say you don’t know and you will get back to them with the correct answer or introduce someone else that is an expert.  I think it’s a huge red flag when a sales person pretends to have the answer when they don’t, as it shows they might be willing to offer the wrong product or service to the customer.  Also be prepared to say when you are wrong or have made a mistake. This will show that you recognized what you did and will be willing to fix it going forward.

Honesty is Key

To summarize the two lessons above, you will find success in sales and business development if you are an honest person.  This is a mostly conservative industry and the people remain employed at the same company for long periods of time, and they don’t forget.  If you come across as a pushy sales person that is an expert on everything petrochem related, you most likely won’t be the person that customers build relationships with.  A lot of times our customers work long hours and when they get away for lunch they don’t want to keep talking about work. They want to talk about something fun (i.e. football or hunting).  If you try to push your product too hard right from the get go, all you’re doing is hurting your chances for the next meeting.

Just like almost any career or profession, if you work hard, stay honest, and enjoy yourself, anyone can be successful in a business development role.

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BradSawyer

Brad Sawyer – Business Development Manager at H+M Industrial EPC

B.S. in Industrial Distribution Engineering

Brad has more than 10 years of business development experience in the heavy industrial markets including Petrochem, Refining, Power, Mid-stream, and Terminals. His responsibilities include managing the Business Development and Marketing divisions at H+M. Industry experience includes capital projects, turn-arounds, outages, and maintenance along the Texas Gulf coast region.

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