Actalent's Project Management Team Gets Multi-Site Plant Expansions Back on Track

By Michael McGuire | May 31, 2024

This case study showcases Actalent’s wide range of expertise and capabilities: from project management, construction management and EHS programs to manufacturing, mechanical, and electrical engineering solutions.

Results at a Glance

Actalent resolved the client's biggest project concern in two months

Actalent fixed the system for commissioning the bulk drying and ingredient batching systems within the first two months

More than 3 million hours of combined safety among all employees and consultants

Actalent implemented proper structure, training and guidelines resulting in the project accruing hundreds of days without an injury across sites

Implemented solutions to mitigate waste and delays

The materials, equipment, and resources are now being sourced, tracked, and managed properly following application of quality, accountability, and communication

Client Profile

A U.S.-based producer of pet food and pet products.

Market Overview

Forever seeking ways to improve production and speed- to-market, manufacturers in almost every industry are also contending with an ongoing lack of materials and equipment availability. Due to that scarcity, each manufacturer’s mission to avoid downtime and gain efficiencies thus becomes all the more critical yet challenging.

Also scarce is the skilled talent required to sustain growth in the face of these challenges.

The Challenge

The client was expanding wet and dry pet food production at multiple facilities across the country. A general contractor (GC) was overseeing the construction, along with all manufacturing, mechanical, and electrical engineering requirements.

This large-scale project, however, was quickly hampered by an overall lack of engineering quality and accountability on the part of the GC.

For example, improper quality control, with instances of improper system input and output checkout, led to multiple job stoppages and schedule pushes. On top of that, the GC’s poor documentation, poor communication, and seeming inability to problem-solve made these situations worse.

Engineering and construction talent soon began resigning from the project, having grown frustrated with the GC and weary of potential safety issues.

Unless resolved, these initial problems would eventually cascade into production delays, late deliveries, strained operations, increased attrition, higher costs, and decreased revenue.

The client turned to Actalent, a trusted partner in engineering talent solutions, to stabilize the project.

The Actalent Approach

After listening to and collaborating with the client, Actalent’s developed a solution rooted in quality and accountability.

First, Actalent assumed oversight of engineering and construction, including all consultants working on those aspects of the project.

That meant ensuring various systems, equipment, and processes -- including those related to electric utilities, water supply, waste-water treatment, supply chain management, parts tracking, ingredient batching, drying, coating, and packaging -- were designed, installed, implemented, and commissioned properly at each facility.

To achieve and maintain success, Actalent established the following: a detailed project schedule, rigorous but manageable safety protocols, meaningful performance metrics, open lines of communication, rigid delivery milestones, and the use of proper engineering designs.

In addition, Actalent also owned the recruitment, screening, onboarding, training, and performance of over eighty consultants -- including site managers – from both inside and outside project-area labor markets.

The Results

Actalent, upon implementing proper structure, oversight, training, and guidelines, had the client’s wet and dry food expansion back on track within two months. Even more remarkable, nearly three years later the project is ahead of schedule.

Actalent’s quality, accountability, transparency and communication, and overall problem-solving capabilities have been the key differentiators in this project’s success.

Here are several of the highlights from this turnaround:

  • The system for commissioning the bulk drying and ingredient batching systems, once among the biggest project concerns, was fixed within Actalent’s first two months.
  • Materials, equipment, and resources are now being sourced, tracked, and managed properly, thus mitigating waste and delays.
  • Kitchen Commissioning, the first major milestone, is about to be completed almost 50% faster than originally expected.
  • Across sites, the project has accrued hundreds of days without an injury, which equates to more than 3 million hours of combined safety among all employees and consultants.
  • Improved onboarding, safety orientation, training, and talent retention.
  • Identified, troubleshot, and implemented solutions to fill critical gaps in the explosion suppression system.
  • Established a monthly contractor performance review process.
  • Through committed communication, Actalent turned tension into alignment and collaboration between consultants, the GC, and subcontractors working on the project.

Roles Supported

  • controls engineer
  • electrical engineers
  • electrical field engineers
  • mechanical construction managers
  • mechanical engineers
  • packaging project engineers
  • process engineers
  • project managers
  • safety directors
  • site managers
  • utilities electrical engineers
  • CAD specialists
  • construction managers
  • electrical field representatives
  • engineering maintenance specialists
  • material handling specialists
  • mechanical field representatives

Projects Performed
or Managed

  • construction management
  • electrical utility requirement design and coordination
  • water supply guidance
  • wastewater treatment package development
  • staging, installation, and commissioning of equipment and systems
  • GC and sub-contractor quality control
  • safety program implementation and oversight; review sub-contractors’ safety programs, OSHA Logs, EMR data
  • active workflow management
  • transformer installations
  • layout and staging of motor control centers
  • CAD design and drawing (includes 3-D drawings and revising incorrect GC drawings)
  • CAD database maintenance
  • contributing insights and guidance to 30% design reviews
  • fire protection
  • implementation of unit load conveyance
  • installation of the process and packaging equipment
  • mechanical utility loading for process systems

Relevant Insights