2016 – spring Issue

Recipe for Electrical System Improvement

Ardent Mills (a joint venture between ConAgra Foods, Cargill and CHS that began in May of 2014) is a Denver-based flour-milling giant and ingredients company with mills throughout North America. At the company?s facility in Wichita, KS, Interstates was able to use its expertise in project development, collaboration and engineering to successfully implement several electrical improvements.

Dean Hoerning, the director of engineering at Ardent Mills, tapped Interstates to prioritize and rectify electrical issues shortly after the company took control of the facility. According to Jake Ten Haken, Director of Integrated Services at Interstates and Integrated Project Manager on the Ardent Mills project, ?He was walking through the facility and called me, saying, ?You need to come look at this. We need to find a way to resolve these issues and get their infrastructure up to Ardent standards.??

An arc flash study had been performed, and the results were troubling. ?Certain areas had very high arc flash ratings, which was useful to know, and our Interstates team walked through the facility with the Ardent team and looked for electrical concerns,? says Ten Haken. The team identified just over twenty small projects and presented them to the client. Ardent Mills, with a focus on the long term health and performance of the facility, chose to prioritize the issues according to their overall impact. ?We made sure to knock out the high priority issues first,? says Ten Haken, ?then we focused on resolving the smaller issues standing in the way of having a strong infrastructure for future projects.? One room, which had a very high arc flash rating, kept requiring a facility shutdown to do even the most basic work. It was one of the first safety projects completed.

With the concerns identified and prioritized, Interstates worked to enhance the electrical system in phases. Some of the most pressing problems involved high arc flash ratings, space clearance problems, aging equipment, water getting into electrical equipment, and recurrences of vandalism and theft due to the out-of-site distribution area. Using Interstates? Electric Room Rx process, the problems were evaluated and then remediated to update the mill?s electrical infrastructure. ?In some cases we built completely new electric rooms,? says Ten Haken, ?and in other instances we did a ?gut and replace? which required shutdowns.?

The outcome of resolving the electrical issues has clearly been positive. Equipment maintenance is much easier. ?Instead of shutting down big portions of equipment, the plant can now shut down and lock out specific equipment they need to work on,? says Ten Haken. An added benefit, the facility?s electrical system now has additional capacity, allowing Ardent the flexibility to make changes or add new systems down the road. Power factor correction was also added, which will result in lower utility bills. ?Their electrical maintenance costs should be drastically less going forward because of the new equipment,? adds Ten Haken.

The success of this project was dependent on a few best practices that can be applied to projects in any facility. Working closely with the plant?s electrical crew was paramount and helped in planning and executing smooth shutdowns and changeovers. Finding and fixing small problems along the way was another step toward success. ?Hitting extra, low-hanging fruit for the client is always a good idea,? says Ten Haken. Ultimately, the collaboration between Interstates and Ardent employees ensured project success and resulted in a safer, more capable, up-to-date facility.