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Facility Maintenance Decisions

Successful Boiler Replacement Required More Than Technical Skills





The department's role in the project went beyond technical issues.

"Besides developing a close working relation with our contractor partners, communication strategies between the engineers and the staff, as well as our customers — those were the key elements of this department's role," Puckett says. "We also had to maintain a consistent and reliable supply of all the associated systems and functions during the installation."

The old boiler's location deep inside the building created a host of challenges related to disconnecting and moving it to make way for the new boiler.

"One of the biggest challenges was the location of the boiler," Puckett says. "It's in the heart of the power plant. So it had to come through a very narrow opening (and) past all the functioning equipment to get to its location. That by itself represented a logistical challenge."

That move took an entire week.

Ensuring the hospital's utilities remained functional during the replacement process also created challenges.

"It was a daily challenge, just simply because of where the boiler was located, just to keep services running and relocate feedwater and fuel lines — it was quite a challenge," Hatzinger says. "It took a lot of coordination with the contractors to keep those going."

Ensuring Performance

As part of the boiler installation, Puckett required that the new unit be commissioned to ensure it performed as designed and intended right from the start.

"In general, I'm a proponent of commissioning," he says. "You can't undervalue the process of thoughtfully, and with the right perspective, commissioning any of your essential systems. Whether you do it in house or have a third party do it, commissioning just makes good sense."

Adds Puckett, "With some projects, commissioning is seen as an extravagance. Then, when it comes to value-engineering time, that can often be taken off the table. Everyone will trust either the operators or the contractor partners to do that, but those two groups in particular are too close to the issue. The important thing is to test it before you put it online."

Puckett credits the project's ultimate success to the planning and preparation that took place at the outset.

"It was having the right people at the table, clearly communicating expectations, having contingency plans," he says. "All those things made it a challenging but relatively uneventful (and) certainly very successful project."


posted on 11/23/2011

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