Structural Services team offers workable, cost-effective solutions for industrial partners

October 2022

C.S. Davidson works hard to offer value to clients at every turn. After a multinational company purchased two quarries in Tennessee and Mississippi and tried to push over-the-top, expensive new safety measures on quarry management, they called in C.S. Davidson to help develop a better solution.

The quarries excavate ball clay, which is used, among other things, in the production of sinks and toilets by companies like Kohler and Toto. After raw clay arrives at the facility of those and similar companies, it is processed and cleaned for use. After the clay is prepped, it is shipped out of the receiving facility, usually in a railcar.

But first, it must be poured into the railcar. That requires a person to climb up on top of the car, which has no railing to stop workers from falling and sliding down the side to the ground, a fall which could kill or seriously injure them. So, that person needs to wear a five-point harness with a rope that is tied off so if they slip and fall from the railcar, they’ll be caught by the rope and won’t fall to the ground.

Structural Services Team

According to the quarries’ new owners, the safety tie-off system used in the past did not meet the company’s standards. So, their solution was to hire another national company to force-feed solutions to the quarry managers.

The overall message from the outside vendor was that they needed to completely tear out and scrap the existing safety system and put something completely new in place, with which no one at the quarries had any experience. That new system would likely have cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to install between equipment costs, facility shutdown time and hours working on it.

That was the last thing those quarry managers wanted to see happen at their sites. So, C.S. Davidson was brought into the fold through a longstanding connection with another client. Andy Ferrari, structural engineering manager for C.S. Davidson, said his team poured over scores of pages of complicated safety reports and recommendations from the owner’s outside vendor. He and his crew could see the frustration on the faces of the quarry’s management.

“We were in the conference room with the facilities manager for the two locations, and I asked him if there was any version of this where he would entertain us reviewing what they have and maybe modifying it, so we’re not overly intrusive and not changing everything they’re already doing,” said Ferrari. “He thanked me, and you could see his relief. They just needed someone to listen to them and work with them to provide a solution that worked for them.”

Now, C.S. Davidson will thoroughly analyze both quarries, which requires extensive site measurements. Those alone pose significant challenges. The work will be done in an active quarry while heavy equipment is being operated. The C.S. Davidson engineers will need to get into places that people typically are not in regularly, like up into the roof rafters or climbing through a large piece of equipment. While safety is paramount, the engineers will try to hamper the quarry production as little as possible.

Just to complete the necessary measurements will take about a week for two people, totaling roughly 80 to 100 hours of field time. And it will take another 700 to 800 hours, approximately, for the analysis and repair drawings. But, Ferrari says, the four or five months of analysis from C.S. Davidson will likely avert months of downtime at each quarry and save the company, conservatively, tens of thousands of dollars.

Once the team has analyzed the existing system, they will make minor modifications to ensure it’s a safe and adequate fall arrest system. They will accomplish that by reinforcing or modifying the existing conditions rather than installing all new systems.

“Our solution requires less downtime since all changes will be implemented during regular shutdowns for maintenance or during operations when they’ll be able to make scheduled transitions,” Ferrari said. “We always strive to add value to the equation and think outside the box about solutions to client problems.”

If you need an engineering firm to listen to your needs and develop solutions that work for you, contact us today.