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Dairy project proves challenging

Rob Sabo

RHP Mechanical Systems Project Manager Guy Lutz says construction of the 87,000-square-foot Western Dairy Specialties LLC milk processing facility in Yerington was by far the most difficult job he’s undertaken in his 28-year career.

In addition to the plumbing, RHP also designed and installed more than 6.5 miles of milk processing piping, set and rigged all the mechanical milk processing equipment, installed 1,200 tons of ammonia refrigeration equipment that can chill the building to 19 degrees Fahrenheit, spent more than 2,000 man-hours installing specialty stainless steel, and set up all the instrumentation and controls for the facility.

McGraw-Hill Construction recently chose the project for its “Best-of-the-Best” award, choosing Western Dairy as the top industrial project in the nation from a field of 225 entries.

RHP already had won a local Pinnacle award for its work, and the project also was Southwest Contractors magazine’s “Best of 2008” award winner.

“It was tough from the day we got off the ground,” Lutz says. “On the plumbing side, there were over 200 floor drains that had to be within a quarter-inch placement due to the equipment. From start to finish it was 12-hour days. The biggest obstacle was that the building was built, and then it was trying to fit all the piping and equipment in place.”

John Rolle, a computer assisted design specialist with RHP, logged about 1,370 man hours using BIM Building Information Modeling a 3D autoCAD program to make sure systems fit.

Lutz says the job would have been much more difficult without the computer-aided design modeling.

“That is what made everything fit and gave the guys a plan and direction where to go. I would say the BIM modeling saved probably 25 percent of the labor. It is a pretty amazing software package.”

As the job progressed, RHP inventoried all the milk processing equipment more than 700 pieces and pulled and set them. Superintendent Tim Regan and metal journeyman Jim Andrews led the RHP installation and stainless steel crews.

“The specialty stainless people are still talking about it,” Lutz says. “It was pretty phenomenal the work Tim and his crew did.”

Despite the challenges, the RHP crews enjoyed the novelty and challenges involved with the dairy, Lutz says.

“Those kinds of jobs are always fun. Everybody, the whole team misses that one and is hoping another one comes up.”