Project Experience

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Tank 4-1, Tank Stair Repairs – AAFB, Guam

Client:             APTIM Federal Services LLC


Project:          Tank Stair Repairs (Tank 4-1), Andersen Air Force Base, Guam


Scope:            In September 2018, Smithbridge won the award for the Tank stair repairs of Tank 4-1 at the Andersen Air Force Base Guam. The scope of work was to remove/repair existing seals and alarm and also remove existing stairs and circumferential handrail and to fabricate and install a new aluminum set of stairs and handrail.


Due to client requirements, Smithbridge accepted a very aggressive schedule to have the new stairs installed, this left very little down time between designing the stairs, demolishing the existing and fabricating and install the new set.


Smithbridge successfully met the schedule proving again that we can work in very dangerous conditions (working at heights, fall protection, confined space, crane lifts, lead compliance) successfully without any safety incidents and meet schedules while producing a quality product.



Demolition Plan

For this type of high-risk project, it is imperative that all individuals undertaking in labor activities have a clear understanding of the demolition methodology. A highly detailed Demolition Plan was prepared outlining the planned steps required to safely dismantle and remove the roof plate and internal structure.  Each individual that worked on the project during the demolition was required to read the Demolition Plan and sign the last page of the document. If they did not understanding any of the steps the Project Supervisor would help explain and clarify any concerns. This gave the individual a clear understanding how to safely and efficiently go about the demolition phase working in a team. 


Organizational Chart

When undertaking a high risk project such as this there must be a clear line of command and a highly skilled Project Supervisor and Workforce. Smithbridge takes pride in having highly skilled and trained individuals working as a team. Smithbridge emphasizes an environment where open dialogues when planning daily activities are encouraged. 


Pre Task Planning

Before each job/task, the Project Supervisor would get together with the workforce and discuss how to achieve the task. In particular, this was a critical aspect of the demolition phase. Communication between the Project Supervisor, SSHO, Crane Operator and Riggers was vital in developing the most efficient and safest method.  


Stop Safety Program

Smithbridge’s Stop Safety Program is a safety system whereupon it allows an open and honest dialogue between co-workers. If an individual sees another undertaking a task in an unsafe manner the Stop Program allows a positive discussion to take place without concern about disciplinary action. The Stop Program has been in place at Smithbridge for 15 years, during that time it has nurtured a philosophy of openness. This is a large reason why Smithbridge is able to undertake high-risk projects such as the repair of Tank 4-1 and complete the work safely, efficiently and in the allocated time.   


Computer Modelling and Onsite Survey

Smithbridge produced a 3D model of the spiral stairs to visualize how it would wrap around the tank. Because people use stairs almost on a daily basis they may not fully appreciate the complexity especially when designing stairs to accurately spiral around a tank. 3D computer modelling allows us to see how the stairs will look and fit, prior to installing.


To make sure what we are designing will fit the tank perfectly we do not just trust what the As-Build drawings say are true and correct. We attended site and undertook a detailed survey of all the platforms to ensure our design had all of the platforms accurately positioned in all the right locations so the instruments around the tank are accessible.






Demolition of Large Sections of the Existing Stairs

The proposed schedule was very aggressive which required an innovative methodology. We decided to introduce a modularized system of demolition so to remove large sections safely and productively. We bought in one of the cranes from our fleet that was large enough to do the lifts but small enough to get access to the tank.


Installation of Large Sections of the New Stairs

Again, based on the same principle as with the demolition to keep to our aggressive schedule we used innovative methods during the installation process. We achieved this by preassembling large modularized sections of the stairs so to be able to reduce the number of crane lifts. This in turn increased our productivity in a safe manner.


Project Obstacles

The demolition phase of Tank 4-1 was a high risk task due to the inherently unstable and unknown condition of the existing corroded stairs and handrails. This meant absolutely no access was allowed via the existing tank stairs while the demolition of the old stairs was occurring. Therefore, access to the existing tank stairs was via a man lift which meant constant clear communication between the workers in the man lift, the spotter and the crane operator. This was achieved with the use of 2-way radios, clear hand signals and competent rigger training. All employees knew their role and what was required from them to execute the tasks at hand, as this was explained very clearly by the Project Supervisor prior to each lift being undertaken. 


Winner of Excellence in Construction Award 2020

As part of the Guam Contractor’s Association annual Excellence in Construction Awards in 2020, this project won in the category of Industrial (Less than $5 Million). The Excellence in Construction Awards promote quality craftsmanship in the industry and celebrate and reward construction projects across Guam. The awards have been running in Guam since 1997 and are a prestigious honor and coveted award to receive in such a competitive industry.

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