EllisDon Kinetic– Fleet Maintenance Facility Cape Breton Shop Consolidation Project

EllisDon KineticConstruction manager EllisDon Kinetic – A Joint Venture oversees the final phase of construction on the FMF Cape Breton Shop Consolidation Project.

By Janice Hoppe

In its fifth and final phase of construction, Fleet Maintenance Facility (FMF) Cape Breton is beginning to resemble the 20-year-old artist rendering from when the project first got underway. FMF is known as the “Corner Garage” among Royal Canadian Navy sailors because they berth at a jetty alongside the FMF shop facilities when their vessels need maintenance.

Located at the Navy’s Dockyard near Victoria, British Columbia, the FMF shops repair and overhaul the RCN’s ships and auxiliary vessels. “The engineering company that did the initial concept put a massive jigsaw puzzle together on paper, and to see it now largely completed in the flesh is really quite rewarding,” says Clive H. Orford, project director for naval infrastructure requirements for the Department of National Defence (DND). 

EllisDon kinetic box

FMF features some 38 shops that specialize in various manufacturing, overhaul and repair capabilities and techniques, ranging from electroplating to powder coating, fixing sensitive electronic equipment and repairing major naval weapons systems. Over the past two decades, FMF Cape Breton has undergone a large consolidation project to improve its efficiency. The DND manages the project, which will cost about $500 million when complete and spans over five phases.

When completed in fall 2018, FMF Cape Breton’s 38 maintenance shops will be consolidated into a single area at the dockyard, basically putting this organization under one roof. “It’s been a long journey,” Orford notes. “We are keeping pace and the work is progressing more or less on schedule now. The project’s financial outlay is what we had hoped to achieve because the contractors are keeping to schedule.”

Steady As She Goes

EllisDon Kinetic (EDK) – A Joint Venture is the construction manager on site that has been responsible for procuring all necessary subcontractors that will build each of the seven different construction work packages in sequence and roughly over a five-year period. Defence Construction Canada (DCC) is overseeing EDK’s work as the site manager.

“This [Phase V] work contract has been underway for about three years,” DCC Major Project Leader Brian Fraser says. “We got off to a slow start the first year, but we have improved and are on track. We’ve handed over three work packages to the DND for use, and our next major milestone is the turnover of the abrasive blast and paint booth work package in May 2017.”

The $20 million abrasive blast and paint booth package includes large equipment that the RCN will use to paint and refinish ship components, and will be housed within a new extension to a building that was constructed about 10 years ago under an earlier phase of the project. Overall, the project’s journey involves adding several new sections of industrial shop building onto two large buildings that were built about 25 years ago, as well as renovating several areas within those older buildings.

“I’ve just finished procurement on the last work package, which is a major milestone,” EllisDon Kinetic Lead Project Manager Mark Liudzius says. “We have all the trades lined up through to the completion of the job, and this means that we can turn estimated budgets into more firm budgets. That helps give the owner a better idea of the final costs.”

Site Security

One of the biggest challenges EDK has faced is the security policy on site. “We are on a military base, so everyone who comes on to do work has to have security screening from the federal government,” Liudzius says. “That takes time and sometimes months for an individual to get clearance, so replacing workers is not a simple task. There have been issues with keeping staff levels and subcontractors because of the logistics involved with security.”

Fraser says EDK continues to perform well despite early staffing challenges. “Security clearances have become a greater issue and the Canadian and American government security processes don’t quite align,” he adds. “There was some special admittance granted to Blast-One, based in Columbus, Ohio, so they could come onto the site for the abrasive blast and paint booth package.”

Surprises happen on site and EDK has done its best to stay on schedule and come up with solutions when they do. For example, a piece of equipment needs to be moved to complete one of the shops, but after the move it is determined that it needs to be reconfigured by the original manufacturer, which did not have security clearance. “We are supposed to move that shop by the end of August. If we can’t move the piece of equipment, that shop won’t move, then we can’t demolish the old building and we can’t start building the new building area,” Liudzius adds. “These are the types of issues we are having.”

The Last Dance

During the first three $85 million renovation packages of Phase V, EDK and DCC were in the existing buildings working around the FMF Cape Breton workforce who needed to still do their job. Orford described the working environment as a juggling act or dance between the contractor and its workforce and the DND workforce. “It was pretty well managed and a generally happy worksite,” he adds.

“That was a challenge,” Fraser adds. “It was no small task, but now that challenge has passed and we are starting on new construction, which should be far easier.”

Moving forward, EDK and DCC will be focused on the remaining four work packages at FMF Cape Breton. Once the project is completed in two years, FMF Cape Breton’s industrial processes will be more efficient and it will operate within a smaller and tighter footprint.

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