Joint venture successfully collaborates on $45 million project to complete Burlington Skyway Bridge coating and steel repairs

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STAFF WRITER – The Ontario Construction Report

Dayson Industrial Services Inc. and Harrison Muir Inc. are collaborating on the $45 million, three-year structural steel coating and steel repair project on the Burlington Skyway Bridge for the Ontario Ministry of Transportation (MTO). Connecting Hamilton and Burlington and handling more than 50,000 vehicles daily, work had been expected to be completed by the end of 2016 but is currently ahead of schedule.

Dayson president Jeffrey Butcher says a joint venture was a logical choice for the massive project, both for its scope and so both companies could continue to address the needs of existing clients over the lengthy term of work. “This is the largest coating project the MTO has put out in 40 years. Issuing it as one contract and with our two companies working jointly provided assurances to the ministry and allowed flexibility on our end.”

Dan Orrett, Harrison Muir’s president and general manager, says one reason the joint venture was plausible, despite the two companies’ status as competitors, is a long relationship that includes industry association connections and the equal footing of both within the industry. “Both companies have histories dating back over 50 years, both are first class businesses with similar capabilities and a shared philosophy.” In fact, the two companies had undertaken a previous $17 million joint venture under similar circumstances a few years ago.

Orrett says the joint venture, while spreading the risk for the project, also created synergies and advantages that served this project and will benefit both companies’ long-term clients into the future. “This project allowed us to build larger resource bases of qualified skilled protective coatings applicators and to acquire and update specialized equipment such as dust collectors and blast equipment. Both of these will allow us to better serve our long-term maintenance and painting clients into the future.”

In order to best co-ordinate the effort, while the project was globally managed, work was partitioned to allow each company autonomy and the ability to work with their own crews and equipment.

Understanding the complexity and scope of the work, Butcher says the partnership sought other like-minded and high quality contractors when they bid out specific components of the job. “This isn’t a job to be based only on bottom line. We were looking for a combination of price, high quality and high safety standards in selecting the best project partners to work with us on this.”

Project partners included Direct Traffic Management Inc., Tower Scaffold Services Inc., Facca Incorporated, Weinmann Electric Ltd., and Brennan Paving Ltd.

Butcher says public impact and safety were huge components of the project, beginning with initial pre-start meetings involving police, ambulance and transit authorities who had to be made aware of the work and how lane closures might impact their efforts.

On-site safety, with crews of up to 60 at a time, required a joint health and safety committee which met monthly, and daily toolbox chats including detailed equipment inspections.

Intended to protect the bridge span for another 20 years, work involved removal of the existing coatings, steel repairs and then the application of a three-coat paint system that included a zinc epoxy primer coat, epoxy intermediate coat, and urethane top coat, standard for MTO projects, says Butcher.

“We went over and above the specification requirements and hired our own third party NACE level 3 coatings inspector, Julian Hay, owner of Jhaycon Inspection and Consulting Services Ltd., who was there every day to ensure compliance with quality requirements and that everything was done properly,” says Butcher.

Though this step added cost to the initial bid, Butcher says the inspector’s presence actually helps with production and ensures a smooth final inspection.

Despite the summer’s heat and humidity, Butcher says the team was able to work ahead of the schedule of last winter and is scheduled to be finished sometime in October. “Our summer set up includes air conditioning for the workers, which isn’t always standard but should be. We also treat the air to remove moisture before it hits the nozzle and we keep the work area ventilated with air changes every five minutes or so. All of this means that we weren’t impacted by the summer heat and humidity as we might have been otherwise.”

Butcher says the efficiencies achieved working jointly on the project, both for the companies involved and the project itself makes this kind of collaboration worthy of future consideration. “Absolutely, it ensured we succeeded in delivering a massive amount of work on time, while still maintaining quality service and attention to our existing customers. It was a win-win for everyone.”

Orrett says it was great to see the MTO tender a project of this size and magnitude. “Projects like this allow MTO to take full advantage of the talent and resources available to it in a more focused and concentrated way. In the end, it benefits the project, but also the industry.”

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