The dream team: How our USA Building and Civil Midwest teams are collaborating on the Audubon Metals Texas Plant project

Corsicana, Texas is a small but lively city about 60 miles southeast of Dallas, and it’s famous for being the location where oil was first discovered west of the Mississippi in the 1890s. Three of our Skanska teams are working on a new manufacturing facility that will soon call Corsicana home and provide 100 jobs for the local community: the Audubon Metals Texas Plant.

This 160,000 square-foot facility will be Audubon Metals’ second location in the U.S., and it will recycle scrap automobile parts for re-use in the manufacturing of new aluminum products. Once this project is complete in June, it will have a big impact on the local community. Already, the company has made multiple visits to Corsicana High School and Navarro College to recruit soon-to-be graduates to work in the facility. The company is also educating local students about technical trade careers in facility maintenance, heavy equipment operation and machine operation.

Located on 98 acres, the project site provides our teams unique challenges—from chasing our neighbor’s cows that get loose on the jobsite to battling sudden storms that could affect the schedule. In order to bring this aluminum reproduction facility to life, three of our Skanska teams are working together: USA Building’s North Texas and Houston team, which is providing construction management services, and USA Civil Midwest, which includes PCI Skanska and Industrial Contractors Skanska. As the in-house engineer and architect of record, PCI Skanska provided engineering for the civil, structural, mechanical, electrical, plumbing and fire protection aspects of this facility. Mechanical and electrical superintendents within Industrial Contractors Skanska are leveraging their metals construction expertise to support the controls, automation and commissioning work.

A magnificent milestone: Topping out with 21 helicopter lifts

Using helicopters on a project is a rare occurrence. Though I’ve been working in construction for close to 30 years, this project is only the second one I’ve been on that’s used a helicopter. To top out the project in February, which, for this particular project, meant placing 21 exhaust fans on the roof, we opted to use a helicopter instead of a typical 600-ton crane because it was faster, more affordable and much safer.

It took weeks of planning and extensive coordination with our project team, mechanical contractor and the company performing the helicopter lifts to ensure we were doing this as safely as possible. On the day of the topping out, over 12 tons of exhaust fans were lifted by the helicopter on a 100-foot line. They were then placed on the metal building, which is 400 feet wide by 400 feet long. What would have taken two weeks to accomplish with a crane ended up taking half a day with a helicopter.

Making safety a priority on a heavy equipment project

With the topping out complete, our teams are now coordinating the heavy equipment that the facility needs for operation. The Industrial Contractors Skanska team has been instrumental in ensuring that all of the equipment is delivered on time and installed properly. They’ve put pamphlets together for our millwrights and iron workers that break down exactly what it takes to place specific pieces of equipment in the facility. No stone goes unturned.

Carefully coordinating work between the multiple subcontractors and craft workers inside the facility is also a critical part of the project. With close to 200 employees, three Broderson cranes, one 30-ton crane and 30 boom-and-scissor lifts inside the building right now, safety is our biggest priority. To ensure everyone is on the same page, we host a daily morning huddle after Stretch & Flex. All of our foremen discuss what they’re working on and any issues they need solved. We then meet with the iron workers and millwrights to go through steel setting and any equipment setting challenges that need to be discussed.

A group effort leads to success

This project is a great example of Skanska offering a one-stop-shop solution for one of our customers. With our PCI Skanska, Industrial Contractors Skanska and USB teams involved in the design and construction of this facility, we can provide everything that Audubon Metals needs in one place.

As a senior superintendent who is used to building high-rises, hospitals and schools, I was at first concerned that this metals facility project would be out of my comfort zone, but I welcomed the challenge. Through the support and expertise of my own team and our PCI Skanska and Industrial Contractors Skanska colleagues, I now consider this project an exciting experience that I’m proud to be a part of.

Last updated: 4/1/2021