Nov 18, 2013

Productive Komatsu equipment helps complete projects on time

Gallup, N.M., and area Native American tribes need water. Along with the U.S. Department of Interior Bureau of Reclamation, those entities are underway to meeting that need with one of the state’s largest-ever pipeline projects, tapping into the San Juan River at Farmington and running to Gallup.

A massive undertaking, the Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project will eventually carry water about 280 miles through the San Juan Valley serving Navajo communities, the Jacarilla Apache Nation, and into Gallup. When complete, it will service more than 250,000 people. The work is split into several contracts that have or will come out for bid during the next few years.

Currently under contract, McMillen, LLC is constructing the first phase, an approximate four-mile stretch of 42-inch iron pipe just north of Gallup. The company started the project in the summer of 2012 and expects to complete it by the end of 2013.

McMillen had to adjust to varying terrain when putting in the pipe. While the average depth was about 12 feet, the company excavated as deep as 25 feet in places. Constraints in the right-of-way made excavation in some areas difficult. Pipe had to be slurried in place, and in order to ensure the slurry could surround it, crews put plastic foam blocks on the bottom of the trench underneath the pipe. Once in place, they used engineered backfill to cover it.

“The project wasn’t without its challenges as we had to work around existing utilities, along with several obstacles within the right-of-way,” explained Foreman Carl Preston. “Also, we were working through an area that is highly archeological. We came across several items along the way. When that happened, we would stop construction immediately and then work with the Reclamation archeologist to preserve and protect the historic sites. While that could potentially slow a project down, we found that by working closely with Reclamation, we could adjust the project’s timeline.”

A full-service company

McMillen is based in Boise, Idaho, with offices in Bellingham and Seattle, Wash.; Portland, Ore.; Wasilla, Alaska; and in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. It’s a woman-owned, 8(a) design-build firm specializing in heavy civil projects that focus on water resources, municipal and hydropower industries. McMillen’s organizational structure ensures a seamless integration among environmental, engineering and construction throughout a project’s execution.

“We’re a full-service company that works with agencies such as Reclamation on design-build, engineering and hard-bid work,” said Superintendent Marvin Robb. “We perform nearly every aspect ourselves, with some subcontracting. For example, on the Navajo-Gallup project, we subcontracted out welding and concrete and had a temporary batch plant on site that supplied slurry. McMillen is proud to state that we have hired 100-percent Navajo field personnel to support this important project.”

Rented equipment from Road Machinery

McMillen also turns to local equipment suppliers. To gear up for the Navajo-Gallup project, the company contacted several dealers, including Road Machinery, LLC. “Road Machinery had the best financial and maintenance proposal at the time we were bidding on the project, which was critical to meeting the schedule and budget,” noted Equipment Manager John Stevenson.”We found Road Machinery was responsive in solving any issues that arose throughout the life of the project.”

Working with Farmington-based Account Manager Eric Hirengen, McMillen rented five pieces of Komatsu equipment – one PC650 and two PC360LC-10 excavators, an HM300-3 articulated truck and a WA470 wheel loader. Road Machinery also provided an on-site lube truck for McMillen to use, as well as Road Machinery technicians, who serviced both Komatsu and competitive machines under a service agreement.

“We moved extensive amounts of dirt. In some cases, because the area we worked in was confined, we had to dig, remove the soil and stockpile it before bringing it back to fill,” explained Project Assistant Joel Niederklein. “The Komatsu equipment allowed us to do that efficiently and productively. The excavators had good digging power, and we were especially impressed with how well the PC650 handled the deeper digs. We were also impressed with the excavators’ lifting capacity, which was essential in lifting pipe sections that weighed more than 8,000 pounds.”

“We’ve rented Komatsu equipment, especially excavators, during the last few years,” added Stevenson. “We have found them to be productive and fuel-efficient. Road Machinery’s service was an added value. They tracked the Tier 4 machines through KOMTRAX and provided complimentary services under the Komatsu CARE program. We monitored the other machines’ hours and called them when a service was close to being due. Road Machinery was very responsive, and Eric was fantastic about making sure we remained satisfied. They understand what customer service means.”