2016 – fall Issue

Visualizing Great Results

Forget the drawing board ? the Ag Processing Inc (AGP) plant in Hastings, NE, took shape at the white board. By utilizing this unique tactic for visual planning, Interstates team members were able to plan effectively, prioritize finishing work, and even change the work mentality on site for improved efficiency. Visual planning, along with high prefabrication and the employ of a start-up manager, resulted in a successful project that underscored the best of each company involved.

AGP?s Hastings plant produces soybean oil and soy meal with extraction facilities and a refinery on site, resulting in products from cooking oil to animal feed. With construction, controls programming, and engineering teams from Interstates all providing services on this project (what?s known internally as IPD ? Integrated Project Delivery), planning and execution were fluid. ?With IPD, we worked together seamlessly and provided AGP an end product they could trust and rely on,? says Randy Noecker, Project Manager at Interstates. Through this delivery method, Interstates helped AGP achieve its goals of expanding its footprint in Nebraska and better serve AGP?s members and customers.

One facet of integrated delivery was choosing an innovative planning method like white board visual planning. ?It has made a huge difference for us, changing our mentality and how we complete work,? says Noecker. Comprised of three entire walls of whiteboard squares that represent days or weeks, the visual planning system is covered with sticky notes that represent specific tasks. ?Those tasks have to be done, not started, but done, on that particular day,? says Noecker. By placing the priority on finishing work, the system enhances efficiency. ?The whiteboard is also a living schedule,? he adds, ?and it helps with communication. Everyone can see everyone else?s story and can see where the urgencies lie.?

With solid communication established, the IPD teams were able to focus energies on other endeavors, including using more prefabricated puzzle conduit on this job than was prefabricated by Interstates in the entire previous year. Prefabricating that much conduit (over 63,250 feet) is understandably challenging. ?We inundated our prefab shop and we stretched our planners, but with persistence, we made it through,? says Noecker.

A working example of that persistence is found in a newer service offered by Interstates ? that of Start-up Manager. ?Interstates has always been an integral part of the checkout, commissioning and startup phase of a project and it?s intricacies involved with assisting owners, subcontractors, equipment suppliers, vendors, etc.,? says Noecker. It was a natural progression to create a role fully devoted to these tasks. Cameron Rittenour was the Start-up Manager on this project. ?The owners relied on our direction during the checkout and commissioning phase,? says Noecker, who is confident the position proved to be beneficial when everything wrapped up in September, 2016.

Thanks in part to the character of the companies involved (including AGP, A-Lert Construction, and Interstates) and efficiency in planning and execution, the project has been a success on numerous fronts, despite any problems or small setbacks. Noecker, reflecting on the challenges posed by the sheer amount of prefabrication used on this project, sums up Interstates? ambition neatly: ?At the end of the day, if we don?t test ourselves or push to the limit of what can be done, we?ll never know what could have been done. This is how we grow."