First Cellulosic Ethanol Plant of its kind in the US

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Project at a Glance

Location: Nevada, IA
Value: $330M
General Contractor: Fagen Inc.


Project Overview:

First Cellulosic ethanol Plant Construction CPM Scheduling

HSE is working on a cellulosic ethanol plant for DuPont. DuPont is one of several companies pioneering new technology to produce high quality ethanol using the corn cobs and the husks instead of the actual kernel of corn. While HSE can’t share their patented process for accomplishing this due to confidentiality agreements that are in place, HSE can say that this plant is unique. There was a small beta plant built prior to this one but with the lessons learned incorporated into this project this plant is a one of a kind. DuPont is hoping to prove that this plant can be built and commissioned within a predetermined period of time and for a maximum amount of just over $330 million. If successful they hope to build, or sell licenses to others to build, more than 200 more of these facilities. They have promised the Federal Government that they can increase cellulosic ethanol production beginning with the end of 2014. Having said that, this project has presented several unique challenges, both from a constructability standpoint and from a project controls standpoint. There were major challenges to overcome from late and incomplete engineering and procurement deliverables that caused the project to be built out of sequence instead of in a typical sequence of construction. HSE was faced with this challenge. How should HSE reflect these events in the schedule and show the impact to the project and at the same time protect the contractor’s interest while not impeding achievable progress to the project? This project is being watched carefully by the U.S. Government and it is important that the design team, the Owner and the Contractor work together as a seamless team and yet HSE to protect the Contractor’s legal rights at the same time. The Contractor’s planners are very good but the Owner did not allow enough money in the budget to properly staff a job of this size. As a result they have had at least six planners leave this project and the one who stayed has more work to do than anyone could do alone. At the same time, he inherited a baseline schedule that was created with less than 30% of the design complete so our first major challenge was to help him complete the schedule and align it with the current engineering. HSE also found that the schedule was not set up to track resources or physical percent complete so HSE recast the schedule accordingly. HSE saw that the schedule did not harmonize with the EV being tracked in Excel so HSE helped the Contractor’s staff to see the need for this and to bring these two together. After that HSE was able to generate reports from P6 to report progress and HSE could also create resource profile curves and stacked histograms to forecast manpower requirements. Although the Contractor’s in house project controls staff is good they are not very experienced in working on projects that involve multiple government regulations. HSE has had to help educate them and walk them through this process. They are also not very experienced in the level of reporting and project tracking that DuPont requires so HSE has had to take the lead in this as well. On this project HSE has done a great deal of the day to day work while at the same time mentoring the direct hire project staff. HSE arrived after this project was well underway and HSE was asked by the Contractor to make sure all delays were properly documented in the schedule. HSE have had to do a lot of forensic analysis of the schedule besides the daily maintenance work, e.g. progressing the schedule activities statuses. HSE’s knowledge of Excel has been useful both for the EVM system and to merge multiple databases from the Contractor and the Owner. HSE was asked to set up and run the weekly project meetings between the Owner and Contractor so that they would each have a clearly defined purpose, establish individual accountability for the crafts and for each company and to track issues critical to the success of the project.




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