RJ Martin Electric Blog

Six Common Electrical Challenges in Industrial Building Projects

For electrical contracting projects in industrial settings, there simply is no room for error. From power plants and chemical plants to rubber and plastics facilities and production environments of all sizes and scopes, industrial electrical projects are highly complex, physically demanding jobs for everyone involved. Therefore, the electrical contracting firm you hire for any project should be nothing less than an ideal fit. If it’s not, major problems can result, from schedule and budget overruns to facility downtime, equipment failures, equipment damage, accidents—and in extreme cases, even death.

When the electrical contracting professionals at RJ Martin Electric are hired for an industrial project, the general contractor (GC) or end user who hired us should feel confident they made a very smart decision. Why? Because time and time again, RJ Martin Electric has proven its ability to perform in ultra-demanding industrial environments and deliver excellent work on time and on budget.

Through our decades of work in industrial settings of all sizes and scopes, we’ve identified six common challenges associated with electrical contracting projects in the industrial realm, and below, we’ll highlight the capabilities needed by an electrical contractor to meet those challenges.

 

Common challenge #1: Identifying an electrical contractor with deep, proven industrial experience. An electrical contracting firm may claim it possesses industrial experience. But their portfolio of past projects – and details about them like work scope and completion dates – should be the first thing you consider when evaluating your options. If one firm performed a single pollution control electrical upgrade 10 years ago, are you confident that they can handle a pollution control electrical upgrade today?

As we said, industrial projects are complex, and the means and methods of electrical contracting in industrial settings are completely different than other installations. For example, electrical contractors may run conduit in industrial settings, commercial settings and retail settings. But the types of conduit for industrial projects are different; the tooling used to install it is different; and installation methodologies are different. Conduit is just one example; means and methods are unique across the spectrum of industrial installations, so it really takes a specialty contractor to do the work correctly.

 

Common challenge #2: Working in demanding – sometimes extreme – environments. The electrical contractors you hire may be working in environments with 40-foot ceilings. They themselves may be working 40 feet in the air—or even higher. Additionally, many industrial installations typically call for rigid conduit as opposed to electrical metallic tubing (EMT). It takes special skill and considerable physical strength to manipulate those large cables. At RJ Martin Electric, we perform many explosion-proof installations in power plants, which also necessitates a unique skill set in the electrical contracting arena. Additionally, some industrial settings require the use of masks and other protective gear.

Electrical work is tough enough without adding these and other variables into the mix. The electrical contractor you select for your next industrial project should possess experience in a variety of demanding environments, along with proven success completing projects on time and on budget.

 

Common challenge #3: Executing electrical requirements with or without complete drawings. Even large-scale projects aren’t always 100 percent engineered. As an example, RJ Martin’s electricians performed a line for one customer where all we had were old drawings. We needed to track everything that was disconnected first in order to reconnect it properly—and then we had to merge that with updated controls. Without new engineering drawings, that can be an enormous challenge. Thankfully, our electricians had the experience and capabilities to get the project up and running. For another project, the electrical equipment sat idle for seven years in a facility and needed to be reconfigured. This was a fast-track project, so we worked closely with the engineer to reinstall that equipment literally minutes after it was engineered.

These are examples of adaptability, creativity and ingenuity needed by a successful electrical contractor in an industrial setting. Additionally, qualified industrial electricians can often identify cost-saving techniques or alternative approaches. When implemented, these can save significant dollars in the short and long term.

 

Common challenge #4: Avoiding time delays and cost overruns. If you’re shutting a facility down for several days to perform upgrades, on the final day of that planned shutdown, it better run. Every day that project is delayed represents a significant financial loss for the end user. In industrial settings, there’s no time for on-the-job education for any trade, electrical included. Therefore, the electrical contracting firm you hire must have a proven track record of adhering to aggressive and strict time constraints.

 

Common challenge #5: Ensuring continuity of work and processes in multiple locations. Many electrical contractors don’t travel, so for projects like plant relocations, it’s a significant bonus to find an electrical contracting firm that not only disconnects your electronics, but then puts it all back together in the new location. We’ve found that this continuity provides customers great peace of mind.

 

Common challenge #6: Maintaining safety throughout the duration of an industrial electrical contracting project. Safety is critical for any project; but in industrial settings, it’s even more so. It’s essential that your electrical contractor maintain an established and comprehensive safety program that ensures workers are properly trained in all elements of safe work practices. This helps to mitigate jobsite accidents and keep project schedules and budgets on track.

RJ Martin Electric places the highest priority on providing employees with a safe and clean work environment. This commitment is underscored through our training and enforcement of company policy, state regulations and OSHA rules. A full-time RJ Martin Electric safety supervisor coordinates training, conducts job site inspections and internally enforces company, state and federal regulations.

Read more about RJ Martin Electric’s comprehensive safety program.

Read more about our commitment to a drug-free workplace.

It’s also worth noting that industrial projects often necessitate other types of training and certifications—for example, some projects require electrical workers to have a Transportation Workers Identity Card. Projects in settings like cement factories require electrical contractors to have AMSHA training. Before hiring an electrical contractor, ask for details about their safety program, their certifications and trainings that workers have received.

Contact RJ Martin Electric to learn more.

We hope this blog helps answer questions you may have about common electrical challenges in industrial building projects, and the approach RJ Martin Electric takes in this area. If you seek an exceptional electrical contracting firm for your next industrial, health care, commercial, education and retail project, please call Robert J. Martin at 216-662-7100 or email rmartinjr@rjmartinelectric.com.

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