Oil Sands Review
July 2014 Issue
“Winds of Change” by Joseph Caouette
ConXtech’s successful modular pipe rack demo in Alberta
Innovators from across the globe are working to make modularization more affordable and efficient
IT’S A BLUSTERY AFTERNOON in Nisku, Alta., with winds gusting over 60 kilometres per hour—good weather if you’re looking to fly a kite, but less welcome if you have to swing around heavy steel beams. But the wind doesn’t bother Bob Simmons, chief executive and technical officer of California’s ConXtech Inc. He has come to the province to showcase his ConX modular pipe rack system, which can be found in projects sitting on the San Andreas Fault or in the Gulf of Mexico, where winds can blow at 180 miles per hour. What does a hearty spring breeze and some cool Alberta weather compare to a hurricane or earthquake?
The real challenge for Simmons lies in convincing a skeptical Alberta market of the merits of his technology. Using conventional structural steel, a pipe rack might take three days to assemble. But a crew of six ironworkers and one foreman, aided by a 50-ton crane and two manlifts, put together this module in just 5.5 hours. Anyone who thinks the province’s productivity challenges lie with labour may reconsider after watching the system in action. “Workers are getting way too much of the blame of the inefficiencies and the challenges with delivering projects up here,” Simmons says. “It’s really the process that’s at fault, not the workforce.” He set about changing that process by bringing a new level of standardization into the module construction process….