New Malt Handling Facility - ConGra

Project:     New Malt Handling Facility

Client:       Canada Malting Co. Limited (GrainCorp)

Location:   Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Canada Malting Co. Limited (GrainCorp) -- Calgary, Alberta

CMC Engineering and Management Ltd. was awarded the contract for project management, detailed engineering design, procurement, construction supervision, and automation software development for this facility.

A new malt workhouse designed to handle all cleaning and shipping requirements on a single shift per day/5 day per week basis, and with the following features:

  • Selectable precleaning capabilities,
  • Unattended transferring of new malt receipts on a round-the-clock basis,
  • Direct transferring from malt cleaners to batch scales to rail cars and trucks.

New material handling systems on a network of overhead galleries and tunnels to integrate the new facilities with the old ones.

Revised power distribution system including a new 15kV/600V substation.

Automation (plant operation, scheduling and MIS) of all new facilities and part of the old ones using PLCs, personal computers, mini computers, and colour VDT MMIs.

This multi-year endeavour involved fast-tracking of all activities in order to minimize the payback periods as well as the requirement to keep the plant operating while the modifications were being carried out.  This latter function required the need to carefully identify the disruption points to the plant operation and to retain contingency plans for each of these disruption points.

As a result, the Project Management Services were particularly intensive and included the following activities:


The project was divided into cost elements (WBS) at the onset of the job.  These elements were of manageable size (average of $100k) and detailed enough in their scope to allow accurate progress tracking and cash flow control.

Back up notes from the preliminary engineering stage were available for reference throughout the duration of the project in order to verify pricing results and to evaluate alternative solutions.


Detailed project schedules were created using computer based project planning software.  Because of the key requirement to keep the plant running during these modifications, the work staging was particularly important.  A site construction manager was brought on-line at the very early stages of the project and was involved, along with the plant operations personnel, in establishing the project schedule.  This schedule covered not only the overall logistics, but also, the details of the each cut-over activity.

These cut-over points represented the key activities where existing facilities would either be taken off-line or linked to newer elements.  The early planning of these activities allowed plant personnel to adjust their production and shipping plans to allow for these disruptions while still meeting the plant’s pre-established production goals.

The details of the cut-over activities were scheduled on an hour-by-hour basis, with many of these activities carried out during the plant’s “off” hours.  In all cases, special attention was placed upon contingency scenarios:

  • Back up routings or production methods,
  • Phased implementations in order to minimize the “bite size”,
  • Retention of old equipment as stand-by until performance was proven,
  • Identification of time targets representing “go/no go” decisions points.

Testing, start-up and commissioning (T/SU/C) were the subject of a separate detailed schedule with specific activities and personnel dedicated to these items.

As with all projects, certain technical, fabrication, construction and implementation problems were encountered enroute.  The early effort in planning the project’s activities in detail allowed these problems to be handled without any major disruptions to the schedule.

Cost Control

The original WBS was established in order to facilitate cost estimating and to allow the owner to properly impute the capital expenditures to various functional areas of the plant.  As with most industrial projects, the implementation of the work based purely upon the WBS elements would have been possible, but not terribly efficient.

Procurement and construction packages were therefore established based upon the most cost-effective ways of carrying out the work.  In most cases, this implementation breakdown structure (IBS) cut across multiple WBS elements.  A WBS versus IBS matrix was therefore established in order to properly track the allocation of funds.

Monthly, progress reports were generated in the field with all tracking carried out on an IBS basis with appropriate holdback amounts assigned to each supplier and contractor.  These individual progress reports were consolidated into one overall progress report showing all pertinent data in the client preferred WBS format.  Pertinent data for all elements included:

  • Budgeted amounts,
  • Committed amounts,
  • Disbursed amounts,
  • Estimated final costs,
  • Variance amounts.

Project Administration

The prime business of the client being the production of malt and not the running of major capital projects, they therefore turned to CMCEM to provide all of the necessary project administration services to run the project.  These included:

  • Record keeping,
  • Set up and operation of project offices,
  • Procurement,
  • Expediting,
  • Invoice processing,
  • Stores management,
  • Project close out.

Construction Management

Rather than hire a general contractor, CMCEM provided the necessary construction management services on behalf of the owner.  A full time construction manager was present to oversee all activities and to assure the
varying numbers of discipline-specific (structural, mechanical, electrical) field inspectors being used as the project evolved.

Testing, start-up and commissioning activities (T/SU/C) were carried out by a full-time, but short term, team dedicated to these tasks.  The team consisted of the technical staff responsible for the design of the plant supplemented by representatives from the suppliers and installers. This technique allowed for the most rapid resolutions of problems and the assurance that the original design objectives would be met.

Although the construction manager had the responsibility for the day-to-day operations of the job, all deviations (technical, cost, and scheduling) were cleared through the Project Manager (supported by the design staff).  This methodology required extra effort in terms of rapid turnaround of information and streamlined decision making.  However, by including the planner/designers in the implementation process, the occurrences of inappropriate (but usually well intended) deviations from the original design objectives were eliminated.