As populations and economies grow, they require more power plants and infrastructure to support them. In today’s environment-conscious world, these types of projects must also prove that they are using resources efficiently. By establishing high standards from the beginning and meeting and enforcing those standards with good design tools, Sargent & Lundy LLC and its client, Basin Electric Power Cooperative, are demonstrating that additional power requirements can be met sustainably.
Headquartered in Bismarck, North Dakota, Basin Electric (BE) is one of the largest electrical generation and transmission cooperatives in the United States. It generates and transmits electricity to 126 member rural electric systems in nine states. The cooperative owns 2,599 megawatts and operates a total of 3,518 megawatts of electric generating capacity. Its member systems distribute electricity to 2.6 million consumers. The regional economies are growing rapidly and BE is working to support the region’s needs. The cooperative is working with Sargent & Lundy to design and build a new coal-based power plant in Gillette, Wyoming.
A large power plant requires a vast array of large equipment and materials from diverse suppliers, which meant that Sargent & Lundy’s designers would have to coordinate across multiple organisations, design platforms and locations of the numerous vendors. A power plant project also needs to consider long-term maintenance from the beginning. Therefore, Sargent & Lundy needed to work closely with operations and maintenance personnel to create a plan for routine maintenance and replacement of components of power systems. Project specifications also required an electronic design package as a deliverable to facilitate plant maintenance and operation. A model-based design was essential for the success of this project, which would allow designers and consultants in several locations to coordinate efforts, manage constructability and integration of power-generating components. Designers would also be able to check for clearance issues that might affect component maintenance and replacement. They would also provide rapid feedback and enable building contractors to get involved early and substantially reduce construction time. This is in addition to the basic advantages of model-based design visualisation.
To work efficiently with the subcontractors, Sargent & Lundy had to incorporate many files—more than 2,000—in dozens of formats. These files included its own proprietary 3D modelling system and formats used by equipment suppliers. The firm chose MicroStation and Bentley Navigator to handle the key task of model creation. “It wasn’t as hard as you might think,” said Scott Witt, Project Designer. He also added, “A project last year ended up with 3,500 files, and the people who made that work were on this project. We have found that MicroStation integrates files very well.”
To make the best use of the model, work was based on weekly model reviews facilitated by Bentley Navigator. Witt continued, “We have internal project team model reviews in a conference room with an overhead projector, and we go over weekly and monthly agendas on alternate weeks.
The model review is completed over the Internet and includes our clients in Bismarck and people at the job site in Gillette. Using Bentley Navigator for regularly scheduled reviews enabled us to monitor the quality of our design as it progressed. We were able to obtain immediate client feedback and incorporate comments.” The model reviews also helped with long-term maintenance. Witt noted, “The transparency features of Bentley Navigator were used to identify areas required for equipment removal, which are critical from an operations and maintenance perspective. Maintenance personnel were also able to verify that they had enough space for their needs.”
A less obvious but budget-saving advantage of model-based design is decreased document handling. About 7,600 physical plant drawings will be issued for this project. A large percentage of these are being removed from the comment issue cycle due to efforts of the owner review via Bentley Navigator. “This saves many thousands of man-hours for Sargent & Lundy and its clients by decreasing time spent on handling, printing, marking up and mailing,” stated Witt. Other uses of the model and Bentley Navigator included walkthroughs, constructability reviews, interference checks and general communication apart from scheduled model reviews.
Now that construction is underway, the model continues to be useful. “We are still pretty early in the construction process. As we bring more contractors on board, we are using the model and Bentley Navigator to get them up to speed quickly,” said Witt. According to him, “Several have downloaded the free Navigator version for model review, which works well because it is easy for us to train them on it and they can use it independently to plan their work.” Bentley’s tools were instrumental in allowing the project to effectively meet the schedule and the customer’s expectations with respect to this highly complex project.