Every day when the PSI team comes to work, we know there is potential for an emergency call related to unplanned down time–we just don’t know who’s going to call or what caused their production to halt.
That’s why PSI created a 24/7 emergency response team headed by Jason Taylor, our VP Operations Manager, and Kevin Tame, our Safety Manager. As master logistics specialists, Jason and Kevin always finds capacity to respond to the unexpected–even when full crews are out meeting deadlines for our other clients on multiple work sites.
Here’s Jason recounting a “typical” day when Teufelberger called because their steam boiler went down. The manufacturer has relied on PSI for many years to keep its busy plant operational making fiber ropes, steel wire ropes and strapping.
When Teufelberger’s boiler went down, they reached out to us and another contractor we work closely with. Both of us immediately started tracking down replacement parts. The other contractor couldn’t get a Smith Boiler as a whole package. He could get the boiler there within a few days, but then the burner was going to take another 5 – 7 days for delivery, leaving many days of lost profits..
We reached out to our supplier and found out they had a Smith in inventory in their warehouse in New Hampshire. We were able to transport the boiler to Teufelberger within 24 hours of their PO being issued and have our manpower on site to start the demo and new install.
Since Teufelberger was an exiting customer, we ordered the boiler before we were issued the PO. Verbal approval was all we needed because, obviously, even issuing a PO takes time. As soon as we got a verbal OK, the order was placed.
How long does a replacement project like this one typically take?
If this hadn’t been a rush job, we probably would’ve waited the week for the boiler to be ordered and delivered. Then the project would have gone through our order entry process to be scheduled–about a week. Typically we’re 2 – 3 weeks out on a project this size. So, it probably would have taken up to a month versus less than a week.
What did Teufelberger need to do to prepare for their boiler replacement?
We didn’t really affect them. We worked in their mechanical room adjacent to the outside of the building. We had our own access in and out and didn’t have to go through the facility. Most of their people probably didn’t even know we were there.
This wasn’t your first project for Teufelberger. What feedback did they give you after the job was completed?
We’ve worked with them for probably 20 years. We actually piped their plant when they moved into their original facility, when they were New England Ropes, before they changed names.
They were very thankful. Obviously there could’ve been thousands of dollars going out the window while they’re sitting there waiting. Everybody’s under stress at that point. So I know they were thankful for how quickly we got the boiler there, how fast we got the crews there. And beyond that, completed the inspection and had them up and running.
A lot of the inspectors only do inspections on certain days of the week or at a certain time. So having good relationships with them is an important part of our job, too. They knew the Teufelberger facility was down, so they actually squeezed us in after hours for the necessary inspection. Having a good reputation, not only with our customers, but with the inspectors in town helps out a lot with the customer’s satisfaction with us.
That’s pretty incredible, actually, considering most construction companies don’t leave open time on their production schedules “just in case” someone calls. How do you orchestrate your crews internally to accommodate emergencies like this?
Multiple things. Sometimes we move to nights if we have to. Guys will work longer shifts or weekends to get projects done on time or to handle emergencies. Sometimes we have understanding customers who let us pull somebody from their project if we’re ahead of schedule because they know we would do the same for them if they had an emergency.
But we were lucky enough to find the boiler with our vendor, get it delivered, and complete the whole job ourselves, soup to nuts: electrical, the demo, the install, disposal of the existing boiler, set up of inspections, everything to get them up and running.
What do you learn from responding to emergencies like this one?
It helps to have so many empoloyees with decades of experience on the PSI crew. For example, their existing boiler had a deficient louver that had to be addressed to meet code. It wasn’t interlocking. We brought in our own electrician to retrofit the louver so it opened and closed on start of the boiler. Fortunately, because we do almost everything in house, we were able to do this work quickly.
Jason, you’ve been a creative problem solver for PSI for many years. What’s the first thing that goes through your mind when you intercept an emergency?
My first instinct is to look at our schedule quickly and see what can be pushed off and what has to be done immediately. My second instinct is, who’s available? How can we move crews around?
But, really, the main thing I think about is knowing the customer is losing money from down time. That isn’t good for anybody. So, whatever we can do to get them back up and running as fast as possible is what we need to do. And, obviously, we want to make the customer happy. We want return service calls.
Having a long-time relationship with a customer is huge, especially during emergencies. That’s when most people are stressed in those type of situations and when they know they can rely on you. That takes a lot of the burden off.
We’ve had multiple customers say they know we’re not going pull a fast one to try to make money. We’re going to do what’s right and, you know, do what we can as fast and productively as possible to get them back up and running. So whatever we can do internally, we’re going to do it.