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Posts Tagged ‘Project Management’

An interesting project has come to our shop that is leading to a new welding procedure. The project is a simple stainless steel pressure vessel, 6” diameter pipe, 0.432” wall approximately 18” long. While this seems overly simple it has led me to investigate the welding options we have qualified for stainless in our shop. We have stainless hardwire, flux core, stick, and TIG procedures but which one to use? Flux core fills very fast, hardwire is clean and neat, TIG has an artistic look when done right but is slower then hardwire and flux core. Stick welding is smoky and unless the welder is REALLY good it just doesn’t look as nice as the others. I’m beginning to think multiple processes. If we hardwire the root then no backing gas is required (meaning we don’t have to purge the inside of the vessel to remove any oxygen exposure on the back side of the weld) then we can fill the majority of the weld joint with either spray arc hardwire or flux core and finish with TIG. We get a solid, quick welded joint that looks like art! But I don’t have a weld procedure that includes three different welding processes. Do I need to break out some stainless steel scrap and weld up a coupon using the three selected processes and have it tested? Conveniently, I do not. Because I have Procedure Qualification Reports (PQR’s) for all three processes I can write a new procedure using the existing PQR’s. I can take the information from each PQR and implement a new procedure that includes all three processes. Each process must be noted on the new weld procedure and the essential variables must also be noted. One other item to be sure to review, the thickness of the additive PQR’s must yield the thickness range required for the intended joint. Maintaining documentation of all our welding processes and procedures makes this an easy accomplishment, an accomplishment that allows us to utilize our knowledge and history to go forward. If you like the way a certain welding process looks but have been told it costs too much or takes too much time, give us a call. We’ll help you find a happy medium that yields beautiful welding and cost effectiveness.

TIG Cover Pass

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As a business owner it is painful when your customers say “I didn’t know you did that”.  During this great recessions our business has scaled back and although each year seems to get a little better we are nowhere near the production we had in 2007 and 2008.  So when some of your best and longest customers aren’t aware of products or services we offer it is extremely frustrating on the road of fiscal recovery.  I guess this is painful because it shows that our message is getting lost in the product offering we make to certain customers.

One such customer has had us hydrostatically pressure test valves for them for years.  They have been in our fabrication facility hundreds of times and they had no idea that we could weld and fabricate stainless steel piping.  This happens to be one of our many specialities as many other fabrication shops subcontract with us to provide stainless steel piping runs.  Our quality and value is higher and better than other shops can do in house.  Another customer had no idea we could build all types of pressure vessels and heat exchangers.  They had only ordered inlet separators from us thus, that’s all they thought we made.  Yet, we build refrigeration packages, cabin heaters, gas processing plants, distillation towers, chillers, filters, and just about anything else that has a midstream application.  In addition we build specialized skid mounted packages for prototyping and product development.

Precision Pipe is learning that we just because we offer many products it doesn’t mean that anyone knows about them.  Thus, we have started a new campaign of a quarterly news letter highlighting products we have built in the previous months.  Likewise we are supplementing our webpage with a link to our line card.  This will allow every email, quote, inquiry to have a direct link to our products and services.  We are hopeful we never hear “I didn’t know you did that” ever again.

http://www.precision-pipe.com

High Quality Welding

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Since this summer Precision Pipe and Vessel, A Denver ASME welding and fabrication shop has built and delivered two 80 foot plus deethanizor and depropoanizer towers.  By all standards these are not the largest towers on the market, but are a large enough to serve a major sector in gas processing plants.  These towers were built in Denver and will be shipped all the way to Pennsylvania for their final installation.  This project was conducted with a Nationwide RFP process and it was discovered the Precision Pipe had a competitive price (even with expensive trucking costs) and even better delivery schedule.

As the gas boom seems to be gaining traction, it seems many ASME shops are becoming back logged with large vessels such as these.  Many gas processing companies turn to the same fabricators over and over again and are willing to wait months for delivery at the expense of production and revenue.  As project managers become familiar with companies they tend to turn to the same companies time and time again.  This is probably a safe bet with long established business relationships, but the petroleum is a high risk high reward kind of business.  From the early stages of drilling, installation, permitting, and well stimulation this is in all reality a high stakes business.

Any company that is seeking a competitive edge should be looking for energetic and motivated businesses qualified to provide the same products on a better delivery date (any ASME code vessel will require the same QA QC and inspection).  The cost of lost production is much more expensive than a few thousand dollars in added cost or even shipping, yet procurement specialist and project managers turn to the same companies over and over again without looking at the competitive advantage they may have by using a new vendor with better delivery times.  As dollars are wasted waiting for equipment it seems more logical to strike up new business relationships based on better delivery schedules. Give us a call and see if we can get you to revenue quicker than your go to guy, you might be surprised!

http://www.precision-pipe.com

Natural Gas Processing Equipment

304 Stainless deethanizer tower

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Denver, CO – July 19, 2011 – We are thrilled to announce today the introduction of our groundbreaking liquid carbon dioxide based fabric and textile cleaning machine. CO2Nexus is a Denver, CO-based company dedicated to developing equipment and consumables that use liquid carbon dioxide (CO2) to clean fabrics and textiles. We are a spin-out of the premier worldwide CO2 R&D entity – FeyeCon Development & Implementation B.V. We are also pleased to announce our partnership with Denver-based Revolution Cleaners, who will field the first dry cleaning unit at their Denver plant.
Liquid CO2 – the same substance that puts the fizz in every carbonated beverage – has excellent solvent properties and is intrinsically sustainable, since it is in-exhaustible, cheap, non-toxic, non-hazardous, non-flammable, and cannot spill into the soil or groundwater. Chemical based solvents currently used in the dry cleaning industry are being phased out and/or have health and liability risks. Water based laundering methods are taxing already severely depleted water resources, especially in the Western U.S.
The CO2 used in the CO2Nexus systems is recycled from existing industrial processes and as such is completely carbon neutral.
CO2Nexus will also field a system later this year targeting the industrial laundry market, in partnership with one of the largest U.S. based service providers in that market. Industrial laundry uses water as the primary cleaning solvent.
Richard Kinsman, CEO of CO2Nexus comments: “Chemical and water based dry cleaning and laundering methods have real consumer marketing and environmental-health liabilities that will only get worse. At the same time, the performance, operating costs, sustainability and consumer marketing benefits of CO2 are attractive and will continue to get better, which is why we believe it to be the best long term option. Our association with FeyeCon on the technology side, and with the primary service providers at the industry level assures us that we have both the scientific and practical basis to implement the technology.”
CO2Nexus will offer commercial units starting in Q1 of 2012.
Denver-based Precision Pipe & Vessel, LLC will serve as our manufacturing partner. Mr. Kinsman: “PPV has tremendous know-how and a real track record in gas processing equipment and components. They bring tremendous value to our organization and we are proud to be partnered with them.”
Edward Pizzarello of Revolution Cleaners confirms their involvement: “We’re excited to be able to install the first unit in our facility. Revolution Cleaners has been on the leading edge of CO2 cleaning in Denver for over 6 years. CO2 has been our only cleaning solvent, and we’re thrilled with the opportunity to move to the next generation of CO2 cleaning technology.”
State and federal agencies have established grant based incentives to encourage the adoption of CO2 based systems, beginning in CA. Other states are anticipated to follow.
About CO2Nexus Inc.
CO2Nexus Inc. designs and sells equipment that uses recycled liquid carbon dioxide (CO2 ) to replace water and chemical based cleaning solvents in dry cleaning and industrial laundry.  Liquid CO2  – the same substance used to “fizz” beverages –  is an intrinsically excellent cleaning solvent and, unlike other solvents, is in-exhaustible, cheap, non-toxic, non-hazardous, non-flammable, and leaves zero secondary waste. www.co2nexus.com
About Revolution Cleaners
Revolution Cleaners cleans exclusively with recaptured, liquid carbon dioxide (CO2 ) & water (H2O); positioning themselves as the most experienced dry cleaner in Colorado using these methods. CO2  and H2O are naturally effective cleaning agents for a wide range of garments and household items. The absence of heat in Revolution’s  cleaning process ensures that stains come out more readily and garments have a longer life. With Revolution, your clothes are cleaner, softer and fresher than with traditional dry cleaning methods. www.revolutioncleaners.com
About Precision Pipe & Vessel
Precision Pipe & Vessel (PPV) is a Denver-based fabrication facility with extensive experience in gas processing, alternative energy and the cleantech industry. They offer top notch engineering, fabrication and product development services to clients across the US. With a track record of successfully serving customers for over 30 years PPV has proven themselves to be a reliable and effective fabrication facility. www.precision-pipe.com

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Everything seemed to be going so well, when all of the sudden we find ourselves thrown under the bus by another team member!  Working on a project with a team of people from different departments, companies, or disciplines it is inevitable someone is going to be thrown under the bus.  It is almost comical to me because I have found myself under the bus many times. I have been thrown under the bus by people I brought on to the job who are protecting their own interest (AKA covering their own butt).  I have been thrown under the bus because I am nice, because I was late or not at the meeting, because I was doing too good of a job, and  I have been thrown under the bus because I was the problem.  In any event it seems inevitable that doing projects with big budgets and tight deadlines people will be thrown under the bus for all sorts of good and not so good reasons.There are some people that are particularly good at throwing co-workers under the bus.  Usually these expert “bus chuckers” are gifted at gab but lack the skill sets that would make them proficient at the task at hand.  The boss likes them because they talk a big talk, are bold in their actions, and kiss up like it’s an olympic sport and they are the reigning world champion.

I like to instill in my employees a different way of conducting business and completing projects.  What you lack in perfection you must make up for in integrity.  This means that personal responsibility must come  first and foremost over the blame game.  The hope is that when an employee makes a mistake they don’t wait for everything to unravel and for panic to ensue.  This is a paradigm that allows for mistakes and mishaps but requires everyone to throw themselves under the bus when the time comes.  This mindset allows for the “human factor” to be real in our company without the need to malign others because of an inevitable error.

This approach has the benefit to us as a company as well as for our clients.  In the world of process equipment, pressure vessels and other custom fabricated products we are always striving to improve cost competitive, time tables, a quality of goods.  While we allow for “new development” we have to also allow for a mistake because sometimes things don’t go as planned.  The errors can make for cost over runs, late delivery, re-work, and all the other complications you hate to see in a project.  Again, some would see this as an opportunity to throw their own client under the bus and try to recover some of the lost profits.  However, I see this approach as a risk reward business strategy that has given Precision Pipe great advantages over our competition in fabrication and assembly techniques. We would never pass along a cost to a client based on our own errors.  In fact once Precision paid more than 100% the cost of a tank because of our own trial and error.  Precision fronted and benefited from 100% of the error and our client was never the wiser as we still delivered in their eyes on time and on budget.

Denver Stainless Steel Welding

Exceeding expectations and standards

Calling a foul or a penalty on yourself is a humbling experience.  You can face the wrath of your customers, co-workers, management, money managers (they seem to be the least risk diverse as a constant in the universe) or even yourself.  However, if you can be transparent the dividends pay in happy customers, good products, leaner fabrication, and better schedules, and good reputation is well worth being labeled as imperfect in execution, but superior by integrity.

http://www.Precision-Pipe.com

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In short, you do.  We all do.  Furthering ones education increases your knowledge base resulting in you becoming a more valuable commodity.  It can lead to more responsibility, which leads to promotions and thus more salary.   It can lead to higher self esteem as more people look to you for the answers they do not have.  Pursuing education shows your employers you have motivation and drive, both positive qualities in employees.  There is a lot of upside here, so you need knowledge!

Once you have made the commitment to gain knowledge, the next step is determining what kind of knowledge do you want?  Do you want to keep up on current trends on topics concerning your current job?  Do you want to establish yourself as a person “on the rise” in your company?  Do you want to leave your dead end job and find something that appeals to you on a more personal level?  Basically, what is it you want your job to be for you?  Once you have determined what you want, it’s time to find out what you need.  Is there a specific type of knowledge you need?  Is the knowledge you require only available in certain classes or specific seminars?  Do you need to pursue an advanced degree to get the knowledge you want?  There are many ways to get the knowledge you desire.

Two subjects that you need to think about when choosing an education is time and money.  How much time you have to pursue your education and how much you can spend will greatly determine which direction you take on choosing how you want to gain your knowledge.  Hopefully, you are lucky enough to work for a place that will cover your expenses for your search for knowledge, because then it’s all a matter of time.

How does all this affect our company?  Well, we here at Precision Pipe and Vessel, LLC are a diverse group of individuals and our diversity does not stop at our knowledge base and how we reached it.  We have personnel here who received their knowledge base through 4 year degrees, various seminars and classes, the occasional ASME conference, and of course, hard knocks.  Our welders and fabricators are always looking to improve their knowledge base through welding different types of metal using a variety of methods and we comply by teaching them the new methods.  Our office staff are also looking for ways to add to their knowledge through learning new engineering and project management practices.  In fact, one of them recently received their MBA from an accredited college.  So we have a lot of knowledge and are willing to use it to help you get your job done.

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It wasn’t too long ago that I walked onto a refinery job site that Precision Pipe was supply equipment to.  At this site I saw an interesting event about to transpire.  A welder who was not associated with our company was getting ready to light a torch next to a vessel we had just delivered the day before. It appeared to me that he intended to cut into the vessel. Surprised to be seeing this, I quickly made my way over to him to see what he was doing.  He informed me that the construction manager (from a well respected and large engineering firm) instructed him to make a modification to the pressure vessel as a solution to a piping problem.  I asked him to stand by for a second so that we could discuss with plant manger the implications his modifications might have.

The welder became rather irritated with me and informed me he had his directions and he intended to follow them.  For those of you that are unfamiliar with the ASME code, let me explain the implications of this kind of modification in the ASME code world. First, if the welder had actually brought his torch to the shell of the vessel he would have undone the ASME certification on that vessel.  In other words the vessel would have no longer been a certified ASME pressure vessel and the customer would have wasted several thousands of dollars on that pressure vessel.  As the manufacturer I would have been required to remove the name plate from that vessel the moment I saw the flame come into contact with it. Second, that vessel would have no longer been acceptable to use on the job site as it was being implemented at a refinery in an ASME mandatory site and State.  Lastly, Precision would have likely had to of retaken possession of that vessel, repair it according to ASME standards, re-certify and qualify the vessel as meeting the ASME code.  The vessel would have also required a second name plate identifying it as an “R” or “Repaired” pressure vessel.

The reality of the situation was, the construction manager was under immense pressure to complete the project and at that point he was willing to cut corners.  What he didn’t anticipate was getting caught in a major blunder which would have added greater delays and expense to his project.  Anything worth doing is worth doing right and this is especially true for engineered products like ASME vessels. Knowing what the proper proceeders are for welding and modifying an ASME pressure vessel is imperative.  In this situation, the only way to modify the vessel is following the ASME code by using a qualified ASME shop with an “R” stamp.  Any welding or cutting on an ASME pressure vessel must be performed by a qualified shop that is in good standing with the National Board.  The pressure vessel will have to be reinspected by a third party authorized inspector and may need to have X-ray and hydrostatic testing to keep the ASME certification and name plate.

As an ASME qualified shop we encourage anyone to use us or another code shop as a resource to answer any question you may have on qualifications, modifications, and inspection of ASME pressure vessels, Heat Exchanger, or Boiler’s.  We would rather take a few minutes to understand and explain what your options are according to the code then risk an accident or injury .  In addition, if we can simply answer your question this a a free service we offer to any prospective customer.  If you are a plant manager and you are unsure if you can use any certified welder?  Give us a call and we can walk you though what it takes to maintain your ASME certifications.  If you have an ASME pressure vessel, Heat Exchanger, or Boiler that needs work or an addition of a nozzle or coupling.  Call us we can tell you what you must do to add the new components in a safe and code qualified manner.

As it turns out I was able to get the welder to wait a minute.  Explaining to him the consequences of his modification calmed him down long enough to bring in the decision makers.  The plant manager, the construction manager (having tucked his tail between his legs), and I all discussed the changes that were necessary and it was ultimately decided a ‘T’ in the process piping was the most effective work around for the problem.  Having an ASME specialist onsite that day saved thousands of dollars, countless hours, and potentially the integrity of the plants operational safety in the future.  Don’t be shy to email or call us or any other ASME qualified shop to discuss your project or equipment with ASME name plates. Your local rig welder or fabrication shop may be good, they may be able, they may even have a piece of paper that  say’s they are certified to make a weld. However, it is imperative you at least speak with a shop that is ASME qualified before you make any welds on a certified ASME pressure vessel.

http://www.Precision-Pipe.com

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Having a market advantage is a huge goal for most companies especially during market down turns.  Often times a company may have such an advantage and not know it, or at least not know how to capitalize on such opportunities.  One market segment that Precision Pipe excels at and enjoys is building Dew Point Processing Plants also know as refrigeration plants, NGL, or Natural Gas Liquids Plants.  What sets Precision Pipe & Vessel aside from our competitors is we have many different approaches to building gas processing equipment that other fabricators don’t consider or offer to their customers.

Our approaches include remanufacturing used equipment in a quality manner giving the appearance the equipment is new (often times it is as good as new).  We also painstakingly examine and inspect each mechanical component to ensure reliability and give estimated time before component overhaul.  We also build complete brand new plants from the skid up.  All of our products are turn key with complete instrumentation and piping interconnect as specified by each customer.  As soon as the plant has been connected to utilities and the associated site piping our systems are ready to be started up and turned over to operations.

Our most recent gas plants have taken yet another approach that provide the longevity  and the associated technology of new and modern Gas Plants yet maintain the cost savings of remanufactured equipment.  Recently we have assembled a plant that used brand new wear components such as a refrigeration compressor, glycol pumps, instrumentation, heat exchangers, and other moving components.  However, we created substantial saving to our client by using ASME pressure vessels and a glycol re-boiler off of used equipment.  We simply identified vessels in our inventory and evaluated condition and specification according to the refrigeration plant.  Next, we transplanted the vessels onto the new skid and re-registered the vessels with the National Board.  This process cut months out of the fabrication schedule and reduced the cost of the plant by nearly 30% for our customer.

When it was all said and done we shipped a modern gas plant to our customer complete with computerized controls and modern instrumentation at a greatly  reduced cost.  We were also informed by our customer that our delivery was several months quicker then the next best offer.  As it stands today the plant has operated for nearly a year with no shut downs and only routine maintenance performed.  This has become a good case study for cutting costs and improving our customers ROI by using creative and alternative fabrication techniques.

Precision Pipe and it’s staff has fabricated nearly 100 NGL plants over the last 30 years that are operating in various locations in North and South America.  We have developed a reputation for finding good quality used equipment, rebuilding our customers antiquated systems, and building brand new equipment to operate in todays modern gas fields.  Precision Pipe

NGL Plant

Precision Pipe uses new and used equipment to build great products

is a fully qualified ASME code shop (U,R,S, & NB stamps) that specializes in gas processing equipment, gasification, alternative energy, and product development engineering and fabrication.

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How do you feel when a project is due to ship in two-weeks time?  Now how about one-week?  Is there a sense of confidence or sheer panic?  When it’s crunch time who/what do you turn to make your deadline?  There are only two choices:  One, ramp up with resources to get the job done. OR, Two, go to your customer and explain why you won’t make your deadline.  (Side note:  When it comes to excuses, I always think of John Belushi in the movie, Blues Brothers, giving Carrie Fisher a long list of why he couldn’t make it to their wedding.)

We know that the two options have serious problems.  If we ramp up resources, our margins slip away fast.  When we go to our customer with a list of why we can’t, we look incompetent and incapable of completing a task we said we could do.  Neither of the two options sound very appealing to me, yet businesses engage in them countless times, usually, with no shame.

How then, do we carry our project through on time and on budget and mitigate the risks and unknown problems that may arise during the project lifespan?  Two words: Hard Work.

It takes hard work to plan out resourcing and stay on task.  It takes hard work to stay motivated to see a project to its completion, but the payoff – well, it’s usually worth the hard work.   Usually, there are simple steps that we can take to make sure we stay on task and that our hard work is not in vain.

Years ago, a mentor of mine encouraged me to write on a 3×5 note card the three most important things I had to do the next day.  (At the end of my day, everyday)  That way, when you come in the next day, you know exactly where to start and what is important to accomplish.  The great thing about this advice is that it keeps you on track in the midst of a chaotic day.

Another great tip from my mentor is to hold a 10 minute meeting at the beginning of each day with various leads and managers of the project that is in progress.  This gives you as project manager  the forum to ask of your leads:  “What are your priorities for the day?”  This in turn, leads to greater communication and accountability within the team.

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As an ASME code shop it has been very beneficial to our business having the added segment of renewable energy projects.  Throughout our 30 year history as a company most of our success and failure has coincided with the success and failures of the oil and gas industry.  As it stands today we are still very dependent on our traditional energy clients and their projects, as this makes up at least half of our overall business each year.  However, it is great to have another segment that is not dependent on the price of oil and gas to keep our fabrication shop afloat while gas and oil prices are down.  Last year the lions share of our work was in alternative fuels, clean energy, and clean-tech segments.  Not having this industry 10 years ago (not to say it didn’t exist it just wasn’t as lucrative at that time) this recession would have been much worse than it is even now. During the downturn we saw big decreases in our back log but we were able to secure and build several projects and skidded packages for clients that are trying to bring new clean technologies to market.  Some of these technologies improve pollution and energy consumption while others aim and finding a competitive replacement to petroleum products.

As we look to the future in this new energy economy Precision Pipe is excited to be at the cross roads.  We are very optimistic about the continued and successful use of fossil fuels and their associated projects and we are thrill to see these projects getting back on their feet again.  All the while we are also embracing new companies that are developing technology to change the way the world uses energy and fuels itself.  In the near future we hope to be building NGL refrigeration plants and gas separators alongside catalyst beds and gasification plants to power our nation and world.  As it is clearly a new world for fabrication, Precision Pipe  is well positioned as a leader in developing new technologies.  We strive to help our clients build prototypes of their own proprietary technologies for this new segment of the US economy in addition to building components for established petrochemical processes.

http://www.Precision-Pipe.com

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