Feeding With Innovation

Pals Electric
Published On
Apr 15, 2020

Pals Electric, Teutopolis, Ill., has added an impressive design/build project to its portfolio: the electrical system of a new state-of-the-art feed mill in nearby Effingham, Ill., about three hours south of Chicago.

The project owner was South Central FS Inc., and the mill was constructed to produce livestock feed.

The mill has a 4-ton mixer with the ability to mix 60 tons of feed per hour, two roller mills to process corn, the ability to produce pellet feed and a 100,000-bushel grain bin, said Matt Pals, Pals Electric president. The facility also includes a 17,000-square-foot warehouse, and two central areas for production offices. Work on the structures ranged from a 16-foot-tall basement to a 150-foot-high platform in the structure housing the motors of the grain leg, which is a vertical bucket elevator serving grain bins, conveyors and hoppers.

During planning, Pals said a large part of the design stemmed from working with the owner’s automation contractor, CPM Beta Raven, which provided programming and PLC cabinets for the project.

Pals said the company did an in-house design-build on the project’s electrical system, including incoming service, lighting, general purpose outlets, specialty outlets and conduit and wire runs for motors with a combined 1,150 horsepower.

“We started the design process meeting with Beta Raven and the millwrights to start calculating horsepower loads. After many surveys and studies, the total horsepower calculations came to 1,150. From there, lighting and general loads were calculated to determine the overall service size,” Pals said. “After submitting paperwork and meeting with local utilities, the incoming service was finalized at 3,000 amps [A], 480 volts, three-phase.”

A planning and overall construction cost analysis was completed, and a $12 million budget was approved. Pals Electric gathered price quotes for switchgear, lighting and general materials. A formal electrical bid was tallied and approved by South Central FS.

Then, Pals Electric’s project designer, safety director and selected project foremen formulated a safety plan for the site.

“With a structure with a height of 150 feet and an average crew of six to 10, we acknowledged the potential dangers of completing such a project in the restricted timeline of nine months,” Pals said. “Laying out daily and weekly safety plans, identifying and documenting daily safety concerns, and meeting weekly with office staff, we completed the project with zero accidents or incidents, which was a testament to our employees’ continuing commitment to safety.”

As concrete and site work started, the electrical underground and utilities infrastructure was put in place, Pals said. And as the 150-foot-tall structure started taking shape, Pals’s employees were busy setting the 3,000A service and bringing power into the building, along with all underground conduits.

After the steel was erected and all tanks, boilers, pelleter, motors, valves, scales, etc., were set, Pals crews began laying out conduit racks and setting MCC sections, variable frequency drives and PLC cabinets. With more than 15,000 feet of rigid conduit and 55 miles of wire to install, special conduit rack layouts were required. Design hours on the racks alone totaled almost 60. The site crew worked almost 7,000-man hours in just under nine months.

“Because this job was pretty much design-build for all trades with only a basic set of structural drawings, prefabrication presented a challenge and required creative thinking,” Pals said. “Our team was able to prefab most of the strut racks, along with 50 motor disconnect stands. While on-site, we also prefabbed some conduit runs along with preassembly of lights on the first floor before taking them up to the second and third floors.”

“One hundred percent of the project is PLC-controlled,” Pals said.

Pals praised the cooperation and coordination with IBEW Local 702.

Pals Electric has been in business since 1980. In 2002, Pals Electric became a signatory contractor with the IBEW and has grown from three to 37 employees, Pals said.

“We believe the combined efforts of IBEW, NECA and Pals Electric has made our business grow to the point we could handle a job of the caliber of the feed mill project. In our almost 40-year history, this is one of our five most significant projects, and it put almost $500,000 in wages into local electricians’ pockets,” Pals said.

About the Author

Jeff Griffin

Construction Journalist

Jeff Griffin, a construction and tools writer from Oklahoma City, can be reached at up-front@cox.net.

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