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Performance Contractors reduces labor and rework costs by bringing vital info to the field

Customer Profile: Performance Contractors Inc. provides general industrial contractor services around the Gulf Coast region. With more than 7,000 projects and 41 years of experience, they safely deliver construction solutions across the industry including thermal insulations for some of the largest petrochemical facilities in the world.

Business Challenge: Improve the speed, cost, and safety of laying out and installing 900,000 feet of pipe on a petrochemical refinery mega project. 



  • 10-fold decrease in labor for layout process
  • Reduce change orders and rework on 300,000 feet of installed pipe
  • More efficient and safe QA/QC for materials management and project controls teams
  • Able to share real-time, as-built data with the client
  • Able to capture and use actual layout times to inform future bids

A major energy company is expanding a large petrochemical refinery on the Gulf Coast with the help of general contractor Performance Contractors Inc. The addition involves laying 900,000 feet of pipe and installing multiple structures, some underground, others 300 feet in the air. Each day there are up to 3,000 people on the job site, each working a particular job for the day.
The job requires sophisticated coordination as there are many moving pieces. Plus, each team member needs to be updated regularly as they work on different parts of the project.
The mega project has been in progress for around three years and is nearly complete. The team implemented technology that made workflows digital and visual, which connected data and simplified the complexity of the project. This facilitated significant productivity gains and enabled the project to progress at the pace it did.

Creating a workflow and an ecosystem that makes conception to realization more efficient

Performance Contractors, an experienced team with a proven construction process, respect that refinery construction is inherently challenging and dangerous. Their client was determined to utilize new technologies available to the industry to improve the process. “One of the goals was to use technologies that have an opportunity to improve efficiency and costs for the job,” explains Darby Milius, a Performance Contractors senior field solutions architect.
This meant the team had to integrate the construction technologies into their work methods.
Communication starts with a good plan, so the team strove to be ready for construction before the first shovel hit the ground. Then the work was methodically planned out to the opening of the last valve. “These technologies [Trimble Connect and Trimble Connect AR] facilitate not just the demonstration or the display of the information but building and creating a workflow and an ecosystem from conception to realization, an entire workflow that gets you through the conclusion,” Milius says.
An industry challenge is the delay in getting information from the trailer to the person in the field. “Trimble's products make it so the model information, the status information, the material tracking information, can become available to a person out in the field on a mobile device immediately as opposed to walking in the trailer and getting a piece of paper,” Milius notes.


Doing more work with less people, time, and rework

Improved communication naturally leads to a reduction of rework. Trimble Connect/Connect AR puts everything in the palms of the team members. People in the field aren’t waiting for materials or answers from the office. According to Matthew Santian, a general foreman in the piping department for Performance Contractors, there have been fewer change orders. 
“With the transparency feature, we were actually able to see what was supposed to be there [and] what was not supposed to be there,” Santian notes.
With the Trimble SX10 Scanning Total Station, the team recognized issues weeks in advance and get answers about how to proceed before the problem arose in the field. The team could go straight to work without worrying about issues.
The reduction in rework resulted in savings of time and materials.
There are thousands of supports on the job. The team used the Trimble SX10 Scanning Total Station laser pointer to put dots on beams exactly where the supports go in real life. “By clicking on a piece of a pipe, they can tell what that spool is, where it's supposed to go, and what area that is,” notes Lorne Sooley, an information manager for Insight-Advanced Work Packaging.
When marking the supports by hand, the team can typically do 5 to 8 per day. That increased to 50 to 60 per day with the SX10.

Keeping employees safe and efficient with a better QA/QC process

A thorough survey leads to a safer project. Some areas, however, are difficult or even dangerous to review. Performance Contractors used Trimble + Boston Dynamics’ autonomous scanning solution Spot to get eyes on areas they might not otherwise be able to. Because the surveyors can scan off of a robotic scan, the risk of injury is reduced.
More complete scans and surveys also result in more accurate data. 
“We're confident that we're making correct decisions when we have accurate, real-time data in front of us,” says Matthew Moradian, a field engineer with Exxon.
With everyone looking at the same information, quality control is better. Information can be transferred from the field and displayed in the back office. “You're basically working in both worlds, in the office, and in the field,” says Roberto Jimenez Martinez, Surveyor at Performance Contractors. The back-office people “… can see everything the team is working on, which makes it easier to get the work done.”
The world continues to rely on petrochemicals and oil. Therefore, it’s essential that refineries can produce petrochemicals and chemicals in a safe and efficient manner. Trimble products have empowered Performance Contractors in multiple ways, including better tracking. “I can say with very strong confidence that this job … is one of the most accurately tracked jobs we've ever had,” Milius concludes. This has increased productivity and safety.

About the Author

Matt is a Senior Video Producer for Trimble Construction. He's never met a building rendering he doesn't love — and in another life is most definitely an Architect. He's spent 15 years crafting storytelling in sports & entertainment, wearables, non-profit, and construction.

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