Gas Construction Inspection Services
Illinois and Missouri
Our client, a midwestern gas and electric utility, provides services to over 2 million electric and over 900,000 gas customers in Illinois and Missouri. EN Engineering’s construction inspection team provides this utility with construction oversight on 46,000 miles of gas distribution and 18,000 miles of gas transmission pipelines. Our team also provides construction inspection services for gas storage fields and meter/regulator station rebuilds/installations.
Our team functions as site leadership, including chief inspectors and construction managers. The inspection teams provide oversight for material deliveries/storage, excavations, horizontal directional drills (HDD), pipe coating, pipe welding, and general utility inspection. We also provide oversight on large equipment (heaters, dehydration towers) installations at gas storage fields. All necessary project and as-built documentation, as well as daily progress reports, are routinely completed and delivered.
Oversight of these projects, including large construction crews and the key tasks that have to be inspected, are always an exciting challenge. There are a lot of moving parts and inspectors are often watching multiple crews as the construction and engineering pieces are coming together. Each year, in addition to many other projects, our staff oversees more than 100 miles of pipe replacement.
Even more than the sheer scope of the projects, changing regulations is the biggest challenge faced by our construction management and inspection teams working on the utility’s projects. Keeping track of regulation changes can be a large task all on its own, and there can be many to update. However, it is ensuring that the teams rely strictly on the utility’s operations and maintenance (O&M) manual that is critical. The O&M manual is a fluid document, continually being updated to reflect regulatory and condition changes. It includes applicable federal codes and provides all essential details the team needs.
This project has been ongoing since 2016, and each year different sections of the system are replaced or repaired. This isn’t one project; it can be up to 100 projects in a given year, with as many as 75 inspectors working on them. With a system this size, it’s inevitable that while some parts may appear the same, they have different conditions in different areas, from pipe size to soil type.
The human experience factor–memories and experience of what has been done before, even in the same section of pipe–cannot be relied upon from year to year. That is often a natural or initial reflex, and can be a challenge to overcome on their own.
To change that natural instinct, relying on memories and experience, EN conducts a three-day intensive training just prior to the beginning of the season. This makes sure all inspectors and those performing construction oversight services are kept up to date on changes, and they are reminded of the critical role they play in making sure the O&M manual is followed exactly, to make sure all work is done safely and correctly.
Adding to the training, strength also comes from many of EN’s staff who have worked on the utility side anywhere from 15 to 40 years. This gives them the ability to quickly and easily understand the utility’s O&M manual and the changes from one year to the next.
EN values strong relationships and “I think our relationship is probably one of the keys to why we have been so successful up to this point,” said Zach Shoemaker, Manager–Field Services. “We worked hard to build those relationships with our client in the beginning, and they’ve been ongoing.”