Katie, Project Manager, for a Southwest Washington General Contractor, told Session 8b of Turbo’s Leadership Development Lab (LDL):
“I am currently working on a Reservoir & Pump Station project in Beaverton, OR. We have been facing conduit congestion issues at the Pump Station Slab. This has actually delayed the work at the pump station by three weeks and the conduit requirements to be installed in the middle third of the clear space between the top and bottom mat of rebar. Due to the huge number of conduits in this area (which is about 40’ x 20’ and includes MCCs, VFDs, ATS, PLC, Security Panels, Panelboards, HVAC equipment, lighting, etc.) we have submitted RFIs and layout drawings, and had the clearance requirements relaxed in an effort to get all of the conduit into slab on grade.
“After all this, we still found ourselves facing a congestion issue. This causes problems since the concrete cannot be consolidated around and under the conduit, as there is no room between any of the conduits. At one place there are (41) ¾” conduits. And the structural inspection was fast approaching.
“As I was discussing this problem with the Electrical Super, he used one of the dogmatic statements I have come to spot so easily: “Well, that’s just the way it is.” This triggered me to say, “I bet we can come up with something,” and decided to have a brainstorming session with the Electrical Sub and included our site engineer.
“We sat down in our job trailer; I pulled out a piece of paper, and said, “Ok guys, I know you have ideas, let’s hear ‘em.” I wrote down what everyone presented, and paid careful attention not to say anything while we were spit balling, except for words of encouragement. One suggestion from the Electrician was to just use a super slurry mix, our Site Engineer shot it down saying that we already had approved concrete mixes. I politely explained that just because it might not work, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t write it down. After all, it means we have more to pick from.
“After we wrote down all the ideas, we focused on the ones that we could easily make work with materials on hand – which were to use spacers. So, we agreed on spacers – what kind? After discussing it, we decided that using a #4 or 5 bar would give us the spacing we needed (which was 1/2” for the aggregate to pass through), they are readily available and we probably had some on hand we could use.
“The next day, the Structural Engineer came out to inspect the conduit congestion. The Electrical Super told him we were planning to use rebar spacers to get the clearance we need. The Structural Engineer was satisfied with the rebar and we were able to complete the work for the Monday pour.
“The lesson I learned from this experience is not to get frustrated and give up or join the electrician in saying “there’s nothing we can do.” I learned that with green light, creative brainstorming I am a problem solver and can create good working relationships.
“The action I call you to take when you hear dogmatic statements is to challenge them. Be the encouraging green light your team needs to solve problems.
“The benefit you will gain is you will be a good leader and you will empower your team to see their own potential.