In a small town nearly 70 miles from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, lay 50-year-old, never relined brick pipes. The town of Sangudo recognized it needed a fairly all-inclusive infrastructure repair of sewer mains, manholes and a handful of service laterals, ultimately to prevent inflow-and-infiltration (I/I) and fix the potable water delivery and sanitary sewer lines.
The town invited three contractors to bid for the project after an engineering assessment was conducted. Two of those companies, IVIS Inc. and a significantly larger competitor, submitted proposals to tackle the comprehensive job. Not only was IVIS, a 42-person company, taking on a juggernaut of the rehabilitation industry, it also presented the higher bid. And it won.
“The advantage that we had was our capabilities due to the fact we did our own mainline relining, our own manhole relining with Poly-Triplex liners and our own service lateral relining with the LMK T-liners,” said Brett Smith, director of sales and marketing for IVIS.
A Multi-Trick Pony
Project manager Chad Eaton and engineer Roger Ficko designed a plan that offered a “total systems solution,” which allowed the city’s infrastructure to be rehabbed to completion without the aid of subcontractors — Sangudo’s major draw to IVIS. According Eaton, the owner had a poor experience bringing subcontractors into a project in the past and was looking for a single company to take on the job — something the competitor could not offer.
“His analysis wasn’t based on price, but who can deliver all the services as one,” Eaton said.
The Edmonton-based company prides itself in being a multi-faceted entity, which ties into the reason Eaton and Smith believe Sangudo awarded them the job, even with their higher bid. IVIS is fully-equipped with its own lining division, open-cut division, excavation division and condition assessment division. If the cost between bids is at least close, Smith says their versatility is a major advantage for “intangible and logistical cost-savings.”
“We’re not set up to do thousands of kilometers of straight mainline shot,” Smith said. “We’re a multi-capable company, and our appeal is to those types of municipalities that are looking to deal with one contractor that can do the job from A to B.”
IVIS’ strive toward self-sufficiency stemmed from unreliable equipment suppliers, often delaying jobs with late equipment deliveries or supplying poor-quality machines. Commanding the reliability of equipment quality and schedule was a paramount improvement this year for the company.
“We basically control our own destiny,” Eaton said. “We’re more in control of what we’re doing and not always relying on someone else to provide us with stuff, which when you’re going to a big job it’s huge. You get delayed by three weeks and basically your whole year gets delayed three weeks.”
Seeing the job from start to finish is already in action, with a strategic plan designed by Eaton in place. The team performed a CCTV condition reassessment first. Phase I began in late December 2009 and finished in early March 2010. The first phase took care of 1,000 m of 200-mm mainline with IVIS’ own cured-in-place pipe (CIPP) lining system. The first phase also consisted of 13 manhole rehabilitations using Poly-Triplex liners. A new manhole installation system introduced on this project allowed for a completion of seven manhole liners in one day — a new company record. IVIS’s new method consisted of wetting out liners onsite.
As the project progressed, it was found that 10 service lateral interfaces required immediate attention; a 30-m portion of 200-mm pipe needed an open-excavation removal and replacement with a 250-mm pipe; and wet and dry wells that supply a force main needed to be relined. Phase II begun in July by repairing six of the service laterals using the LMK Performance T-Liner technology. The third phase, which will be an open-excavation repair, is scheduled to repair the wells and will be held late 2010 because of the soil type.
“It’s a very peat moss-y type soil,” Eaton said. “We’ll reserve that for when the ground freezes up and we can minimize the ground disturbance.”
A CIPP speed cure method was selected to avoid digging up roads and under houses. The plasticine content in the soil was also a consideration in choosing CIPP because the liquid nature of the soil made creating trenches difficult.
Project challenges weren’t abundant, yet a few made the project more difficult. Driving from Edmonton to Sangudo is roughly a 75-minute daily commute. The frigid central Alberta temperature during the first phase made the job harrowing. However, when the temperature started to warm up, it disturbed IVIS’ wetting-out system.
“Typically, we like to do them in the wintertime because it’s an epoxy,” Eaton said. “Once part A and part B are mixed, you only got so much time before it starts to kick off, not like polyester or at a certain temperature.”
Coordination of supplies and job flow was and is a crucial part to keeping the project successful and on time. Having the job planned to strategically repair mainlines, manholes and services laterals in order was a “tactical advantage because of the way [Eaton] planned this project,” Smith said. With IVIS supplying its own materials, downtime and wait time for materials can be avoided with superior coordination.
Looking to the Future
The Sangudo job has thus far been a huge success for IVIS. A small company obtaining such a large job for a small municipality is a change of pace for an industry that oftentimes sees the smaller cities pining to cut costs to save money and opting for the cheaper bid. But the usual face of business seems to be slowly changing, and IVIS is a prime example of this shift.
“A lot of the tenders that we submit to, one of the provisions in there is that the lowest price won’t always be accepted,” Smith said. “There are other mitigating factors that provide more value other than the lowest price.”
Like IVIS, companies’ multi-capable abilities have become key components in decisions to accept or decline bids. It is becoming more commonplace for a company’s inclusiveness to trump a low price, which can be exciting news for the small fish in the big sea of pipe rehabilitation.
Leanne Butkovic is an editorial assistant for Trenchless Technology.