Wilhelm affiliates provide comprehensive services to complete significant upgrades to Citizens Energy’s Belmont Treatment Facility
In the construction industry, working with affiliated companies can offer significant advantages, particularly when it comes to highly complex projects involving several subcontractors. The fluid communication and shared interests between affiliated companies often translate to cost-effectiveness and fewer on-site issues, leading to more successful projects.
Recently the affiliated companies – F.A. Wilhelm, Freitag-Weinhardt, Poynter, and Industrial Electric (IEI) – completed construction on two highly complex projects that illustrate the advantages of working with companies sharing a common bond. Both projects led by General Contractor Freitag-Weinhardt involved improving the operational efficiency at the Belmont Sewage Treatment Plant in Indianapolis, Indiana, owned by Citizen’s Energy Group (CEG).
The first was the Multi-Hearth Incinerator Rehabilitation Project (MHI), which began in May 2014 and wrapped up October 2015. The MIH project involved rehabilitating the plant’s four incinerators and adding new equipment to make the sewage treatment process cleaner and more efficient. As the MHI project finished, the affiliates began work on the second project to upgrade the facility’s solid waste extraction unit.
In order to minimize remaining solid waste being incinerated after treatment, CEG again turned to the Wilhelm affiliated companies to replace the facility’s old belt filter presses with large centrifuges to more effectively separate the liquid from the solids in the treatment process. CEG also needed a new “cake bin” – a large hopper to hold the solid waste for incineration.
Because both projects revolved around the installation of new equipment and process piping, CEG hired Freitag-Weinhardt as general contractor and to manage the mechanical construction and Industrial Electric to manage the $9 million electrical contracts. Mike Perry, project manager for Industrial Electric said the affiliates approached the work as a collaborative effort from day one. “Each company was responsible for its own contract but we worked hand-in-hand to make the project a success,” he said.
In addition to providing design build services, Freitag-Weinhardt installed all the piping needed for both projects, in addition to installing the centrifuges, conveyors, and all equipment and startup assistance. For the MHI project, the company replaced all the gas piping in the building and installed new burners at each level of the incinerator. Poynter installed ductwork needed to connect all the components of the new exhaust system. And, Wilhelm provided all the structural steel necessary to support the new equipment to be installed and constructed new catwalks in the facility. Industrial Electric was responsible for providing the electrical infrastructure to power, automate, control and integrate all of the systems.
For the facility’s solid waste extraction unit upgrades, Wilhelm provided the demolition of the old belt filter press foundations, poured a new base mat for the cake bin, and installed structural steel to support it. Wilhelm crews also installed the support beams and foundation for the new centrifuges. Poynter fabricated and installed the chutes that drop the solid waste into the cake bin as well as the steps and handrails to allow plant operators to move safely around the new equipment.
Industrial Electric was responsible for the power, electrical systems, and the integration of equipment on site. IEI also remodeled the Incineration/Dewatering Building Control Room to allow for new equipment, PLCs and a localized control console for the Operations team.
The electrical prime contract work included installation of a new motor control centers, integration of PLCs and control cabinets, a new CCTV network, and integration of the new equipment onto the new Solids Process Servers. Industrial Electric rehabilitated the existing motor control buckets, variable frequency drives, control stations for the equipment, and added an emergency power panel to handle all critical loads of the process. All of this was made possible by tying in the existing and new process to new network switches connected to the plant fiber optic backbone.
Each of the partners knew the work would be challenging. Not only did the plant have to remain operational throughout construction, but with an aggressive schedule and all the complexities involved in the project, its success depended on expert onsite coordination and good communication between everyone involved. Freitag-Weinhardt Project Manager, Jack McMullen, said working with affiliates made it easier to adopt a team approach. “We met daily as a team to incorporate everyone’s idea and thoughts,” he said, which helped to keep the project on schedule.
Perry said the projects were challenging, because “A lot of drawings were changed to improve the design which impacted each company. We truly adopted the motto – Plan of the Day.” But, he said, working with affiliated companies made it easier to navigate the design changes the project required, “We helped the owner improve the design to get through the hurdles and worked together to change each of our scopes of work where it made more sense.” Perry said affiliate companies can be more adaptable on the fly, which benefits both the client and the companies working on the construction. “IEI knows that what saves the owner money at the end of the day will make for a more successful project” said Perry.
Brian Neal, operations manager for Poynter, noted that working with affiliated companies also helps streamline communication. He said by hiring affiliate companies, the client gets a turn-key project with one point of contact instead of several. For example, “If the client needs to get a price on something that would normally involve several different contractors, one person can work with one contractor instead,” said Neal.
Perry said one of the biggest advantages for the client in using affiliated companies is that they already have a good working relationship. He explained, “When you work with a new subcontractor on a project, there’s often a feeling-out process that goes into figuring out what their motivations are and how it is to work with them. That doesn’t exist when you’re working with affiliates.”
Perry said affiliated companies also enjoy a wealth of expertise close at hand – having so many sister companies with such a wide range of expertise saves time and minimizes conflict when unexpected issues arise on a project. Perry said that when working with non-affiliated companies, “they may not look too kindly on you bringing in someone from a rival company to help solve a problem. With affiliates, you’re freer to reach out and get the help you need.”
Neal said the logistical benefits of working with affiliates can translate into cost savings for the client. He said on a typical project, each company would have its own management and infrastructure on site to support the project. On the Belmont Treatment Plant projects, he said, “You also don’t have to have as much management involved on site,” he said, noting that on the MHI and the Cake Bin projects, Freitag provided the trailers and handled the scheduling and most of the administrative work for all the project partners. “Working with affiliates makes it easier, more efficient and cost effective,” he said.
Clearly, partnering with the Wilhelm affiliated companies worked for CEG, resulting in much-needed improvements to the Belmont Sewage Treatment Plant. Mark Wild, CEG Project Manager, said Freitag-Weingardt and IEI’s affiliate relationships are one of the reasons they were selected for these projects. Wild said, “We chose Freitag-Weinhardt because of their piping expertise and their ability to bring experts in concrete, steel, and plate fabrications, they can pretty much do it all.”
Together, F.A. Wilhelm and its affiliates provide comprehensive expertise in nearly all aspects of the construction industry:
- F.A. Wilhelm, One of the largest employers of construction labor in the Midwest completing projects of all sizes and complexity. The family of companies in Wilhelm Construction Inc. employ experts in every major discipline of construction.
- Poynter , Full-service custom metal and sheet metal crafting providing the deep experience, solid expertise, and dependable performance you rely on for jobs well done.
- Industrial Electric , Full service electrical contractor focusing on industrial, advanced technology and commercial projects.
- Freitag-Weinhardt, Inc. , Mechanical contractors proving job after job quality is integral to performance. From fabrication to HVAC to serving as an industrial piping contractor or plumbing contractor providing the full scope of mechanical services.
- RSQ Fire Protection , Complete automatic sprinkler contractor providing you peace of mind when it comes to fire protection through the best trained mechanics in the industry.
- Midwest Associates , Providing commissioning and qualification answers for our clients’ facilities, systems, and processes. Heavily regulated life sciences industries navigating through complex regulatory environments rely on us for the knowledge and experience to deliver results. Staffed with TABB and NEBB-certified technicians who test and balance the air and water circulation within HVAC systems.
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