MLU Services, Inc.
May 16–July 28, 2019
Heavy & Highway Construction
With the goals of minimizing costs while quickly providing shelter to families displaced by the “Camp Fire” — the deadliest wildfire in California history —the Gridley Industrial Park Group Site involved transforming a vacant field into a temporary subdivision housing development. The project required power, water, and sewer services for 399 manufactured housing units (MHU’s) and came with high expectations for production progress, which was measured daily and evaluated against the overall schedule deadline.
The intense nature of construction operations — combined with long hours, swelteringly hot temperatures and hotels filled with displaced residents — inevitably led to difficulties accommodating the needs of our teams. In addition to challenging field and housing conditions, the fast-paced timetable presented significant materials challenges. The Royal team also had to respond to 37 owner-directed changes throughout the course of the project, including a request to add a sewer lift station and connecting electrical service to MHU’s. Excessive rainfall in May led to a soil moisture content and water table higher than anticipated, which necessitated unplanned site clearing, lime treatment for backfill and open trenching.
The successful completion of this ambitious 70-day contract was a major collaborative effort made possible by Royal’s award-winning project team and our strong relationship with construction management firm MLU Services, Inc. Royal Electric designed and installed a complex electrical system while managing subcontractors DeSilva Gates Construction for earthwork and Marques General Engineering for water and sewer service. Working as a single team with a cohesive project plan, workflow was coordinated between all three organizations, MLU Services, Inc., the City of Gridley, and FEMA; opening opportunities for other crews and areas of work to begin ahead of schedule. Teams from different organizations often coordinated efforts in strategically planned phases, and in some cases even worked together simultaneously, to complete the project on time.
The project team proposed several cost-effective strategies to minimize disruption to the city’s existing infrastructure. Extending an existing drainage pond and excavating two more enabled the crews to leave the city’s storm drain system intact. In turn, material excavated from the ponds was used to fill low sections. Coordination with the city’s maintenance crew provided reliable power to the site while giving them more control of the system. Royal Electric designed and installed switchgear that could energize or de-energize equipment in the event that city maintenance needed to perform work in the surrounding area. Traffic flow around the site was proactively improved by constructing two permanent roads, minimizing the impact of heavy traffic.
Royal Electric’s field management team directed crews on the sequencing of essential tasks and made real-time adjustments to ensure that targets were met. Shifts were increased to 14 hours per day, 7 days a week for parts of the project to meet deadlines. Royal’s main office provided crucial support in executing manpower changes with Workforce Development and Payroll teams remaining available to fulfill field requests, locate personnel, and dispatch crews as needed on a moment’s notice. Robust communication between divisions enabled field crews to solely focus on installations and evaluation of operational challenges.
Throughout the project, safety was the top concern. Our Safety Manager was constantly onsite to assist field management in overseeing operations and monitoring the crew’s health.
Community support and relationships at all levels proved vital. A local farmer assisted with mowing, which enabled the grading crew to start on schedule. Going above and beyond to support the project, WESCO fast-tracked long lead time material and provided assistance after normal business hours to ensure timely deliveries. Royal Electric also relied heavily on relationships with local vendors, who played a crucial role in supplying unforeseen material needs.
Despite all of the many challenges detailed above, the team achieved substantial completion by July 29th, 12 days ahead of the contract deadline.
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