Press Release: 11.18.2013

Early Benefits of CMAR

CMAR Keeps Wastewater Project on PAR
This Las Vegas wastewater project is streaming along due in part to Construction Management-at-Risk delivery.

While a project’s success is often determined after completion, one Southern Nevada owner is realizing how early preconstruction involvement can translate into continued accomplishments throughout a project’s duration. In partnership with the city of Las Vegas, CH2M Hill and key subcontractors, McCarthy has worked as Construction Manager-at-Risk (CMAR) with the city’s Water Pollution Control Facility team to refine requested electrical headworks and bypass improvements while demonstrating first-hand the innovative results of this delivery method.

“Working closely with the contractor during design allows the engineer to gain a better perspective on how best to construct the project and the level of detail that needs to be provided to the contractor in the design,” said Bruce Johnson of CH2M Hill. "It also advances the contractors’ understanding of the project and potential constraints.” 

As the first CMAR project for the treatment plant, McCarthy has worked in partnership with the city and CH2M Hill since September 2011. After its initial award, the project was shelved during the challenging economic climate. Since it was awarded under CMAR procurement laws, the preconstruction team was able to keep the project progressing by working with the owner to revise the scope while keeping the essential elements intact and laying the groundwork for future phases of the plant upgrade.

“The city has done design-bid-build projects for nearly 60 years at this wastewater treatment plant,” said McCarthy Project Director Ryan Cogley. “CMAR is a new delivery method that the owner is not used to, and we are here to help guide them through this process.”

Over the last 10 months, the preconstruction team has worked to diligently understand the needs and operations of the plant. Through weekly meetings, the preconstruction team has been able to develop detailed work plans taking into account factors that enhance efficiencies and quality on the project.

Preconstruction Process
Working closely with CH2M Hill throughout preconstruction, McCarthy was able to address constructability and schedule early in the design phase. This allowed the team to have all the work laid out before a single shovel hit the ground. The preconstruction team brings years of experience working on treatment facilities as well as in the CMAR capacity.

“Our preconstruction team did a great job planning ahead,” continued Cogley. “This is a very challenging project because we have to schedule 21 shutdowns of the plant’s process systems and five electrical tie-ins without interrupting operations. This is much more complex than a typical commercial project and requires months of planning for it to happen successfully.”

These shutdowns – known as maintenance of plant operations (MOPOs) – are developed and executed through a detailed planning process where every step is planned and coordinated in order to minimize the impact to the facility. Created from the expertise of the preconstruction team, each task is scheduled down to 15 minute intervals, and materials and tools are identified so they can be verified one week prior to the shutdown. These detailed and precise plans include photos and diagrams in order to effectively communicate the scope and ensure successful execution.

In addition to strategically planning each shutdown, the construction team coordinates a similar document for every scope of work on the project. This work plan is then used to understand the work sequence and proactively address safety, quality and budget concerns.

The team also works to keep an accurate budget by using cost models throughout the preconstruction phase. By drawing from past experience and using select subcontractors, the team was able to provide a cost estimate at the 30 percent, 60 percent and 90 percent design phase before providing a guaranteed maximum price (GMP) for the project.

Preconstruction Success
One of the biggest challenges the preconstruction team faced was the design of the new bypass box tying in the current waste lines. The team determined it would be more feasible to break down the box into two parts and avoid having to pump waste around existing lines. This approach – identified and detailed in a collaborative work plan – eliminated the need for a pump-around and allowed the existing lines to distribute the flow through a phased construction process.

In addition to eliminating the costs associated with the pump-around and rerouting the lines, the team was able to reduce costs and improve quality efficiencies by utilizing a monolithic pour system, where the walls and decks of the bypass box were formed and poured in a single sequence.

Another benefit of the CMAR process is how the team continually looks for ways to enhance quality and save the owner time and money by incorporating previously successful techniques. The head works upgrade, where the team once again used a monolithic pour method for constructing the junction box, is a prime example. The original plans had called for four separate pours requiring the concrete to cure for seven days between each pour. To save time, McCarthy was able to utilize its self-perform concrete expertise to once again form and pour much of the structure in a single sequence.

“By working with the CH2M Hill team during preconstruction, we were able to show the benefits of pouring this junction box monolithically as opposed to breaking it out into several pours. This was a huge time saver for the project as we eliminated a month from the schedule and ultimately reduced the cost of the project to the city of Las Vegas,” said Cogley.

The team’s early involvement has allowed for planning and execution efficiencies not typical in a hard bid environment. These collaborative work sessions have allowed the team to develop out-of-the-box solutions that truly resonate from the expertise each preconstruction member brings to this project. With construction not set to complete until the summer of 2014, opportunities will continue to be available to implement proven CMAR processes and procedures, enhancing overall project success.

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