Petrochem giant saves thousands of man-hours with Alfred Miller Precast’s system
Alfred Miller Companies (AMC) is currently working with TechnipFMC on a major petrochemical owner/operator’s distillation expansion project in Texas. Scheduled to be completed in August 2021, the project is utilizing over 400 pieces of AMC’s precast electrical duct banks and pull boxes, thereby cutting down on field man-hours significantly.
“This is a concept we pioneered starting back in 2007,” said AMC Executive Vice President Bob Pool. “It consists of precast pieces of 20-foot-long red-colored concrete that incorporate various configurations of conduit. The pieces connect end-to-end to make long runs, which protect the high-voltage electrical cables. The red concrete is there to warn anyone digging to stop.
“By making these units out of precast, you eliminate all the man-hours of craft working below grade in a trench, building formwork, installing conduit, pouring/finishing the concrete and removing the forms. On this project, we were able to incorporate over 1,000 linear feet of conduit into a single piece of precast duct bank. Both the owner/operator and TechnipFMC are very pleased with the system.”
Some of the large pull boxes proved exceptionally challenging, explained AMC’s in-house Structural Engineer Dexter Istre. The largest was 27 feet by 30 feet and right in the middle of a heavy-haul road where it had to be designed to support 2 million pounds of rolling live load. AMC engineered a solution with 12-inch-thick precast walls, structural steel at mid-span and a three-piece precast roof. TechnipFMC personnel poured the concrete floor in place after the walls were erected, thereby eliminating the need for perimeter formwork.
TechnipFMC first heard of AMC through the latter’s work on another Gulf Coast megaproject and inquired about the precast duct bank system shortly thereafter.
“Their work looked exceptional,” said James “Mike” Poinsett, electrical and instrumentation construction coordinator for TechnipFMC on the project. “We scheduled a visit to [AMC’s] Lake Charles, Louisiana, facility and were impressed with their operation. They had samples of precast items we were looking for. TechnipFMC Construction pushed Engineering to adopt this approach, since they were reluctant at first due to lack of experience.
“The product [AMC] provided was very good, but we had never utilized them before. They were selected under a lump-sum competitive bid, and they’re currently providing this project with precast underground conduit systems, precast electrical manholes, precast firewater valve boxes, precast storm-sewer catch basins and precast main power transformer fire walls.”
TechnipFMC is currently working with AMC to expand this list of services to include a precast electrical cable trench and precast street lighting foundations.
As an eyewitness to the fabrication process AMC provides, Poinsett can attest to the company’s safety culture, quality work and professionalism. “It is obvious to me that they are a very close-knit bunch and very professional,” he said. “They take a lot of pride in their execution, and it reflects in their finished product.
“The people of AMC have made my time spent there a very refreshing experience.”
— James “Mike” Poinsett, TechnipFMC
“Though AMC is not conducting any hands-on installation here at the site, I am a frequent visitor to their facility and can confirm they have a good safety culture. Working with other engineering teams can be stressful as well as frustrating, but [AMC] shows a willingness to be a problem solver on design discrepancies as well as cost-saving practices. They’re very patient. I would highly recommend their services.”
Poinsett added that TechnipFMC certainly plans to utilize AMC’s services again in the future, having been welcomed to the company’s facility with open arms even on his very first visit.
“I have had a part-time presence at their facility off and on since December 2019,” he explained. “The people of AMC have made my time spent there a very refreshing experience. They welcomed me from day one.”