By John B. SnyderDecember 5, 2012
WATERVLIET ARSENAL, N.Y. (Dec. 4, 2012) -- When the Arsenal leadership agreed to invest $1.7 million for a new electrical substation that would feed power to one of the most critical manufacturing processes called the rotary forge, little did they know that the Arsenal may be venturing into uncharted waters. But thanks to two, no, three Arsenal employees, this huge undertaking was accomplished last month without any degradation to production.
"This was the largest electrical upgrade the Arsenal had experienced in 30 years and the biggest job that I have ever personally designed and managed," said Benjamin Dedjoe, who is the Arsenal's electrical engineer. "We replaced 1970s technology with state-of-the-art, computer-driven electrical power equipment that has the capability to provide power to 450 homes a day."
This was an extremely complex job that had the potential to set production back if it wasn't accomplished on time or simply did not work after the substation was installed, Dedjoe said.
"We had a 31-day window to remove the 1970-era substation, build a new foundation, install the new substations, test the circuitry and then run the first 120mm tube through for production," Dedjoe added.
This was no small task for the Arsenal's lone electrical engineer and his staff of one, Jim Uram.
While this upgrade was ongoing, Dedjoe and Uram still had to deal with other jobs such as replacing more than 12,000 feet of damaged underground cables, providing power to several new machines on a production floor and installing digital fire alarms in five buildings, Uram said.
The third, critical person involved in the successful installation of the substation is Connie Turner, the contract representative for this project.
"This project was three years in the making," Turner said. "It began with the Army Corps of Engineers contracting a private firm to design the substation, then the project moved to a bidding process where more than 30 potential bidders visited Watervliet, before work could begin."
To add to the difficulty of the project, there were seven modifications to the contract, Turner said.
Some of the modifications came from the challenges that a business has when attempting to connect a state-of-the-art system to 40-year-old technology. While other challenges came from a design that looked great on paper but required some minor tweaks in order to make things work. The biggest challenge, however, came from the discovery of an old oil sump under the original foundation.
"To correctly remove the old oil and storage tank correctly, took about two weeks and it was time that wasn't budgeted for," Turner said. "Despite that huge challenge, the contractor was able to stay on task and complete the contract on time."