HDR Spanish/English Construction Management

Experience in International Projects

Challenge: In 2013, Mexico passed legislation turning away from its history of state-owned energy monopolies and were eager for the added power as the nation opened its electricity industry for the first time since 1960. Since the 1930s, the Federal Commission of Electricity (CFE) has dominated Mexico’s electricity sector by providing generation, transmission and distribution services to the entire country. Recent reforms will liberalize much of the nation’s electricity industry. Additionally, the recently adopted future reforms promise to dramatically reshape the power and utilities sector in Mexico. In addition to the regular challenges of a substation construction project, challenges stemming from the international nature of the project were:

HDR’s client Kindle Energy, A Blackstone Portfolio Company was working with the Frontera Energy Center in the Rio Grande Valley to build the necessary Substation and Transmission Lines to export power from Texas to Mexico. In addition to regular construction management challenges, the international nature of the project posed it's own challenges:

  • The project execution was complex and required working with remote teams, engineers, contractors and suppliers located in both Texas and Mexico. This made it especially important to track real time project information and coordinate between the various teams.
  • HDR and Kindle Energy Required Think Power Solutions to provide a Spanish and English speaking construction manager to coordinate between the engineering and construction teams from both sides of the Texas-Mexico border and overcome the language barrier.
  • HDR and Kindle Energy needed boots on the ground immediately to improve collaboration of their field teams with their engineering department in a seamless manner.
  • Think Power Solutions was also tasked to improve communication of issues related to material, right of way, permitting, and other construction challenges back to the design and project management teams.

Solution: Think Power Solutions was hired by HDR to resolve this problem.  Think Power performed construction management and addressed HDR and Kindle Energy’s problems as below:

  • Due to the international nature of the project, engineering and construction standards were non-uniform and were designed for different standards. Think Power Solutions conferred with Owners, Engineers, Vendors & Contractor to discuss & resolve design issues, NERC standard issues, material logistic issues, etc.
  • Ensured that the Frontera project is under satisfactory condition so that all requirements of the National Electric Safety Code in effect at the time of construction are fully met.
  • Coordinated with Owners, Engineers and Contractors to ensure that construction procedures stay in compliance with OSHA safety regulations.
  • Attended multiple weekly conferences (served as translator) with all parties involved in the project: Kindle Energy, Fisterra Energy, Arteche Turnkey Projects, Labella Engineering, CFE (Mexico’s Federal Commission of Electricity), SENER (Mexico’s Secretary of Energy) and Frontera Generating.
  • Coordinated with Contractors and Generating plant management, to ensure that the substation and transmission daily construction activities stay in compliance with the plant’s safety regulations, environmental regulations and work procedures.
  • Coordinated with the plant operation’s control and contractors to plan, schedule, review and provide daily work permits.
  • Coordinated, planned and scheduled Transmission line activities with contractors & plan management with US federal agencies such as US border patrol, US CBP, and the US IBWC.
  • Think Power personnel tracked real time project progress in the field using Think Power LOGS. The collected data was automatically fed into Think Power ONE dashboards that could then be viewed directly by project managers.

Resolution: Think Power’s “Speed to Market” ability to staff the project with a Spanish and English speaking construction manager combined with the understanding of cultural challenges and sensitivities on both sides of the Texas-Mexico border helped ensure that the project was a success.

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