We had to pre-purchase some cement-lined pipe for two slurry lines from a hopper into a receiving tank inside a building. And that meant design early on in the project. We were nervous; it was expensive pipe and it had to be right. All involved agonized over the design, but finally it was issued.

Months later, we got a call: "It doesn't fit!" After the initial response of looking for someone to blame, the drawings came out and were checked again. We couldn't find a thing wrong. We talked to construction.

"What exactly is wrong?"

"You ran right through the main electrical feeders!"

"We what?!"

This conversation continued for a while until we realized what had happened. Have you ever heard (or used) the phrase "We were there first!"? In this case, we were, but winning didn't help. The decision had been made (by the cheap owner) to do the electrical design without drawings, just let the contractor loose. And he did and pulled his power cables through our space. His cables were cut and installed; case closed. We had to move the pipe.

It was an interesting problem; the pipe had to be used as purchased. There was no time (or money) to reorder. We worked it out, but it wasn't pretty. What had been a flowing layout with 45° elbows was now something no one wanted to acknowledge. But it went in, and apparently operated as it was supposed to. But it was ugly! We paid with the extra work, and probably are still unknowingly paying every time some one looks at that pipe and says "Ugly!"

Moral? How about the need to communicate? Had we known, we could have contacted the electrical contractor and done some coordination. Or, as the timing had worked out, he could have seen our drawings and missed our pipe.

Dennis Novotny

© 06 June 2001

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