company also built a trailer park in a
nearby town and provided bus service
from the park and hotels to the project site
so workers wouldn’t have to pay for gas.
Fluor’s team kept a close watch on
the influx of workers so they could
ramp up staff numbers when necessary.
The big test would come as the team
approached one of the project’s most
significant milestones: a hydro test of the
boiler. Not only would it check the
validity of almost 10,000 welds—it would
determine whether many other construction activities could move forward.
The engineering team had already
adjusted the design of the massive boiler
to reduce the need for additional onsite
metal workers. Large- and small-bore
piping was done in an offsite shop, but
the lack of skilled welders was still
setting the project back.
Starting six months in advance
of the milestone date, Fluor and
Newmont held daily meetings and
brainstormed ideas to draw in new
metal workers. One of the most unconventional decisions included flying in a
team of 12 Fluor welders from Puerto
Rico. Those aggressive recruiting and
retention efforts—along with the
design changes—paid off and the team
met the milestone.
“Thanks to strong risk management
and anticipating problems well in
advance, the project team achieved boiler
hydro on time without a single leak,”
Mr. Hevelone says.
“There was so much jubilation that
day. We developed a plan, we mitigated
our risks and it worked,” adds Mr.
Gerspacher. “Making this milestone on
time was a tremendous accomplishment
and raised the morale of the entire
workforce. Once you surpass this milestone, the light begins to appear at the
end of the tunnel.”
Beyond innovations in staffing, the
team also tried out some unconventional
technologies. Instead of the traditional
hardwire communications systems, for
example, Fluor used a digital bus
“It was the greatest extent that this
technology had ever been implemented
at a new coal-fired power plant facility
for system monitoring and control,”
says James Brown, Fluor’s engineering
manager for new technology.
It was a daring choice, but done
right, the return would be big—allowing
designers to use approximately 30
percent less cable, dramatically cutting
material costs and labor hours.
“That’s a significant savings on a
remote project where obtaining and
retaining skilled craft labor can be quite
difficult,” Mr. Brown says.
The team also combined a powdered
activated carbon injection system with a
new technology that adds halogens to the
coal feed stream. The move enhanced
mercury-emissions control while also
Contract awarded: July 2004
Project launch: January 2006
Actual Completion Date:
16 April 2008—
10 weeks ahead of schedule
Scope: Build a 242-megawatt gross output
coal-fired power plant in a remote U.S.
desert to support Newmont’s gold-mining
Budget: US$533 million
Payoff: Early delivery translated to US$25
million in savings and increased revenue
3 million work hours without a
single lost-time incident
Reliability: Since going into commercial
operation, the facility has achieved greater
than 99 percent availability—surpassing the
contractual requirement of 94 percent