Even with a couple of Vancouver Regional Construction Association's Awards of Excellence already under its belt, Vancouver Pile Driving was happy to cement a 2012 win for Ocean Concrete's Granville Island Plant and Dock Replacement project.
The company earned a Silver Award in the General Contractor Under $15 Million category.
John Zuk, a project manager with Vancouver Pile Driving, said everyone, from the front of the house to the back, deserves accolades for work on the complicated project.
“It’s nice to get recognition. Even though we’re a niche industry, it’s extremely competitive out there,” said Zuk, a BCIT graduate who’s been in the business since 1994.
The project for Ocean Concrete, a division of Heidelberg Cement Group, was a bit of a role reversal for the 100-year-old pile driving company.
“Normally, we’re the client to them,” he said. “But, it was a nice marriage.”
The intense, $1.75 million upgrade started in December 2011 and finished in April.
Work included construction of a new wharf and fender repairs at the operating plant, which meant that the existing timber dock and fender structures had to be demolished.
Vancouver Pile Driving, one of Canada’s largest marine general contractors, performing work as far away as Quebec, also supplied and installed a new steel pipe wharf foundation, cast-in-place cope beam at the wharf perimeter and, a precast concrete deck and concrete topping slab.
As Zuk noted, in this case, getting certain materials wasn’t difficult.
A new fendering system, new lift tower for the luffing barge’s offloading conveyor and a new hydraulic system for the lift tower were also installed.
The Granville Island plant is a pivotal location because it serves construction in downtown Vancouver, Zuk said.
Not only was the project done under winter conditions, but the strategically-located plant continued to operate while heavy-duty work was taking place.
Ocean Concrete’s vice-president and general manager said Vancouver Pile Driving did an excellent job.
“We’re extremely happy with the work they did in a challenging environment,” said Larry Baloun.
“They had to work around our ability to keep the scows coming in. They also needed to keep our conveyors in place while they removed the dock.”
Vancouver Pile Driving also had to bring in a lot of equipment so that their machinery could work on the water.
Add the “tons of traffic” in the busy harbour and cranes that were subject to ebbing and flowing tides, and the impressive scheduling and logistics didn’t go unnoticed by the client, Baloun said.
“We are a high-hazard construction industry,” Zuk said.
Work doesn’t stop during inclement weather. With the wind, rain, tides, currents and boaters, there were plenty of variables, he said.
At that particular site, material to make concrete arrives via barges and is conveyed into silos that sit on the wharf.
Unlike traditional concrete plants, goods can’t be stockpiled in the open due to the proximity of businesses and residences.
Two cranes were used, one to work above and around the conveyor site, while a smaller crane worked below.
“While we were active, at any given time, the conveyor belts would run,” Zuk said.
The plant’s four-conveyor system is a massive structure with significant load.
“We had to suspend it all to remove and rebuild the timber deck,” Zuk said.
Plenty of cross-bracing beams were used.
A series of steel pilings and wide-flange girders were used.
They were supported underneath or the trusses above were supported, so loads could be transferred to temporary structures to allow the safe removal of the old deck.
New steel support pilings, 24 inches in diameter, were placed at a depth of 18 metres.
Zuk gave design engineer Jorgen Jensen of North Vancouver-based Villholth Jensen & Associates credit for his expertise during the project.
While working during the longer, drier days of summer may have mitigated some of the challenges, Zuk said, the presence of fish in the waters off Granville Island meant it made more sense to work when fish such as salmon fry weren’t present.
Still, Department of Fisheries regulations and various other environmental standards had to be obeyed.
“We had environmental monitoring any time there was pile-driving or a concrete pour,” Zuk noted.
A typical workforce at the site included six to eight people on a marine derrick, a pile-driving crew and a carpentry crew, totalling about 15 workers.
Added to that total were sub-trades, such as ironworkers.
Even with the complexities, “It was a fantastic location to work,” Zuk said.