The El Segundo Refinery Coke Drum Reliability Project has been honoured by the Project Management Institute (PMI) as the winner of the profession’s highest accolade—the 2015 PMI Project of the Year Award.
PROJECT: El Segundo Refinery Coke Drum Reliability Project
The El Segundo Refinery Coke Drum Reliability Project team oversaw the successful shipment and installation of six new coke drums — enormous containers that heat crude oil up to 490o Celsius. The project was completed four months ahead of schedule and US$7 million under budget.
The new drums were shipped from a manufacturing facility in Spain and installed in a refinery in El Segundo, part of Los Angeles County, California, USA. The city relies on fuel from the refinery, which supplies 20 percent of the gasoline in the Los Angeles area market and more than 40 percent of the jet fuel for Los Angeles International Airport.
Highlights from the project include the seamless removal of six retired coke drums, each weighing roughly 181 000 kilograms. Because all installation work took place at least 6 m above ground, project leaders implemented a fall protection protocol that required workers to wear double harnesses. The team held frequent safety meetings and avoided injuries by implementing a “stop the drop” program that required all tools and materials to be tied off with a leash. Even with 400 people working high above the ground to install the new drums, the project closed without a single fall or lost-time injury. Additional achievements include taking just six nights to move all the new drums from dockside to refinery, which meant less inconvenience for the residents of Los Angeles.
“PMI congratulates El Segundo Refinery Coke Drum Reliability Project on winning this year’s award,” said PMI President and CEO Mark A. Langley. “The team was able to complete the installation under budget and ahead of schedule by applying sound project and risk management principles to overcome the myriad logistical and safety challenges, while minimizing the impact to the local community.”
The two runners-up in the POY 2015 competition are listed below.
Oregon Transportation Investment Act III State Bridge Delivery Program
BUDGET: US$1.3 billion
River Corridor Base Scope Project
PROJECT: River Corridor Base Scope Project
POY Winner 2014: The AP60 Smelter Project
A Triumph in Health & Safety
Rio Tinto Alcan (RTA) has won the Project Management Institute’s 2014 Project of the Year award. Here is how they and their project team did it.
RTA has made massive investments in aluminium Research & Development. As one of the lightest, most abundant metals in the earth’s crust, aluminium offers an affordable alternative to heavier metals, such as iron-based steel.
When RTA, based in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, learned its research team had developed an aluminium smelting technology that promised to deliver 40 percent more product at lower costs and with fewer emissions than any smelter currently on the market, it knew this process would revolutionize the industry. It would push RTA to the head of the pack. But first it needed to prove the technology would work.
“The ultimate goal was to prove the AP60 technology and get access to our business opportunity in the world.” explained Michel Charron, project director of RTA. “Before giving anyone a contract, we would meet them and explain the strategic goal we were pursuing. The hardest part was making sure they had the right attitude and would help build the culture we wanted for this project.”
The opportunity to act appeared in 2007. An RTA smelting facility in Jonquière, Quebec, Canada, was reaching the end of its life and had to be replaced. Since a capital investment would need to be made, the company decided the time was right to roll out its AP60 smelting technology in the new plant. The AP60 Phase 1 project would provide a template for the company’s future plant projects and showcase the technology to potential customers.
To reach that goal, RTA needed help. The company turned to engineering and construction firm SNC-Lavalin, also based in Quebec, and consulting engineering firm Hatch, based in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, to lead a joint engineering, procurement and construction venture dubbed SLH. The CA$1,3 billion project scope included construction of 38 smelting pots with an aluminium production capacity of 60 000 tonnes per year, a very large electrical substation and a gas treatment centre.
The team faced a significant health and safety challenge. In Quebec, the construction industry’s annual average lost time injury frequency rate (LTIFR) between 2003 and 2009 was 23.5. That means that for every 100 workers in Quebec, nearly 24 workers lost time because of an injury. The project team was emphatic: It had to do better.
The team members focused on the human element when communicating the need for raising safety standards. They asked workers to look out for themselves—and their friends—by taking a moment to review the risks each time they started a new activity. This helped workers identify potential accidents.
“The greatest thing about the AP60 project was the health and safety record. It’s been a game changer for the construction industry and the province. Often, it’s a very simple thing. It’s just taking five minutes,” says André Noël of Hatch, Montreal. “We changed the idea that because it was done a certain way for the last 50 years, you have to work that way.”
By putting safety top of mind, the project team was able to achieve a LTIFR of 0,27, which means only one worker per hundred was injured every four years on the project. This safety record—a 99 percent reduction of the construction industry average—didn’t just set a new standard for RTA projects. It left a mark throughout Quebec.
The project’s strong health and safety performance helped fortify the team’s relationship with unions and keep the initiative on track—even when the sponsor asked to increase the scope halfway through the execution phase.
The aspect of team building and handling scope changes will be dealt with in Part 2 of this article in our January 2015 eNews. Click here to read Part 2
POY Winner 2013: Adelaide Desalination Project
The Adelaide Desalination Project, an initiative completed by South Australian Water Corporation and undertaken by the South Australian and Australian governments, AdelaideAqua, and the Kaurna community, has been honoured by Project Management Institute (PMI) as the winner of the industry’s highest achievement—the 2013 PMI Project of the Year Award.
The South Australian Water Corporation project team managed incredible complexities to finish their project nearly three weeks ahead of schedule and one percent under budget.
Communication, agility, risk management and the management of complex conditions and requirements are the hallmarks of any successful high-stakes project—and few stakes are higher or more urgent than the sustainable delivery of potable water to an entire community. The drought that gripped southern Australia in the mid-2000s was the worst on record. The need for climate-independent sources of drinking water was clear to government leaders and residents—and the South Australian Water Corporation (SA Water) responded with an audacious plan to build an AU$1.8 billion desalination plant in Adelaide, South Australia. Launched in February of 2008, the project originally aimed to construct a 50-gigaliter (13 billion-gallon) seawater desalination facility with the capacity to meet 25 percent of Adelaide’s annual water needs, all with an aggressive completion date of June 2012.
The project was faced with enormous complexities that included environmental sensitivities, geology, scale and risks associated with groundwater, tunneling and marine works, and more. Securing early buy-in from government stakeholders allowed the organization to secure approval for all required contracts and permits within a year of the project announcement—an unheard-of achievement. The organization also launched a stakeholder engagement plan to communicate the project’s benefits to the surrounding community, specifically the Kaurna indigenous population that had long occupied the area.
The project team worked closely with community leaders, integrating Kaurna artifacts and cultural history into a planned on-site visitors’ center. The SA Water delivery team also created strict risk-assessment and inspection processes that kept the team on its aggressive schedule—even when the government had to double the plant’s planned capacity. Though the Australian government added AU$328 million to the budget, the team still had to determine how to accommodate more than 13,000 new activities required to complete the facility—which they did, 19 days ahead of schedule and a full percent under budget.
“Highly complex projects, like this one, require adept management of multiple stakeholders, highly effective communications, and talented project leaders,” said Mark A. Langley, president and CEO of Project Management Institute. “By leveraging strong, standardized project management practices, innovative ways to identify risks and overcome unexpected changes, and top-notch communication, SA Water Corporation conquered the complexity challenge and safely completed a critical initiative that not only achieved its business goals, but sustained a community amid critical drought conditions. PMI commends SA Water and the entire project team for these results, and we are honored to name them the 2013 PMI Project of the Year Award winner.”
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