The Suncor Fort Hills Secondary Extraction project is the largest module project in PCL Industrial’s history, with 369 modules being built on 120 acres and delivered 550km to the Fort Hills site — an open pit bitumen mine capable of processing 14,500 tonnes of oil sand per hour — north of Fort McMurray, Alberta. In addition, our fabrication shop was retooled and performed over 70,000 diameter inches of welding on more than 13,000 spool pieces, turning foreign-supplied sub-assembly pipe spools into larger spools to be installed on the modules.
We utilized the PCL fabrication shop for a majority of the welding and pressure testing, allowing pipe spool assemblies to be completed indoors rather than outdoors on the module steel, allowing us to produce the assemblies quicker and to a higher level of quality. In addition, approximately 20% of the spools we were supplied did not meet dimensional tolerances, project requirements or Alberta code requirements, which our shop had to repair before they could be installed.
With over 500 heavy lifts to be performed in the field, on-time delivery of the modules was key to the success of the project. Fort Hills was the first project that PCL was able to utilize our full suite of heavy lift planning software (dubbed HeviLift) to coordinate not just the lift schedule, but the build order, storage, delivery and laydown logistics for the modules, optimizing the entire process.
Utilizing selective overtime, effectively managing our crews and streamlining elements such as module storage location and delivery order — for example so that the module needed next on site was never buried in storage behind three other modules needed later that would need to be moved to access it — we were able to support a continual installation program in the field. With these procedures and our HeviLift program in place, we were able to increase lifting productivity by 227% and reduce the heavy lift schedule duration by 35%.
With material being shipped to Alberta from various overseas locations, an RFID tracking system and material management software were contracted by the client to help our PCL teams keep track of spools and structural steel during shipping. Unfortunately, due to some data entry issues and some software hiccups, these systems didn’t work as intended, and our crews were left with no detailed understanding of what components would arrive and when they were arriving. As a result, a lot of spools and steel were received out of order, and with the schedule dependent on these supplies, there was a risk of significant delays.
PCL engaged our in-house teams to develop a custom software application (Just In Time Materials) to address the project supply chain management and engineering gap analysis challenges that were slipping through the contracted programs. By identifying issues upstream before they impacted construction and providing clear visibility to both demand and supply, this software enabled our team to get the right material to site at the right time.