Winning a project isn't always about submitting the lowest bid. For PCL’s Calciner Building Replacement with Glencore’s Sudbury Integrated Nickel Operations (Sudbury INO), it was dependent on reputation and quality of work. When tasked with updating the calciner building in the midst of a harsh northern Ontario winter, PCL rose to the challenge by presenting an alternative building design, confident in its ability to deliver despite adverse conditions.

The calciner building, spanning 22,880 square feet, required a clad fabric material called Fabrene. This 12-ounce, high-strength material is UV-resistant, rip-resistant and has a fire-retardant membrane. The building also required a clearance height of 25 feet to accommodate the transportation of mining material. 

Following a 2021 windstorm, a section of the building sustained damage, accelerating the deterioration of the original fabric tent. Initially, the upgrade plan involved reengineering the steel structure, reducing the number of columns and changing the tent to a metal roof.

However, since the project took place during the COVID-19 pandemic, steel was scarce and costly due to supply problems. The work also required 32 concrete footings to be poured to make the building stable.

 “Being involved early on the project helped us apply value engineering,” said Paul Kamerads, superintendent of major projects for PCL’s Northern Ontario office and brought more than 30 years of experience to the Sudbury INO job site. “We provided them a tent structure that met the certification requirements and reduced the cost of the steel structure. It was a great example of working with the client to help save them money. And after we turned the project over to them following our initial deficiency walkthrough, there was no need for any rework.”

The Northern Ontario team executed the forming and pouring of 32 footing pads on the existing foundation in preparation for the new tent structure.  The crew also installed a heating system and new overhead doors and worked with the client to coordinate the electrical components.

The erection of the steel truss components initially proved to be a challenge as they were 100 feet in width with a height at the peak of almost 60 feet.  Due to the tight space, two cranes were required to lift the truss, which only had a weight of 12,000 lbs. Typically, this activity would be defined as a critical or tandem lift and would require additional engineering, review, cost, and time. However, the latter were alleviated by splitting the truss in two at the peak so that each crane independently supported the 6,000 lbs load of each leg. Each half was hoisted separately, the leg pinned down and then the apex was simply bolted together. The entire time the truss sections were independently supported. The main structure was erected in a total of six workdays.

Although becoming familiar with a new subcontractor and working with concrete in the winter offer unique challenges, PCL demonstrated its ability to consistently deliver construction services safely and in a way that saves time, money, and headaches for both the client and the company.

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