GE Energy Management Facility in Somersworth, NH, Counts on Hammond Electric for Switchgear Installation

GE Power Distribution Somersworth NHThe primary switchgear for the GE Energy Management facility in Somersworth, New Hampshire, was struck by lightning in 2010. One of the switchgear's main circuit breakers was destroyed by the strike. The 50-year-old, 13,800-volt switchgear was temporarily repaired to maintain operations while plans were developed for a full replacement in the spring of 2015.

John Hinkley, project lead for the GE Energy Management facility in Somersworth, oversees the 95-year-old, six-story manufacturing plant employing more than 400 people. He planned the switchgear replacement in order to minimize disruption to the facility, which operates six days a week, manufacturing smart grid technology equipment. A weekend in late April was selected for the replacement based on manufacturing schedules and to avoid the end of the quarter when manufacturing demands surge. The significant project required a full shutdown on Saturday and Sunday, with operations resuming Sunday evening.

Hinkley played the role of the customer in this project and hired GE Industrial Systems for consulting and engineering. Given the complexity of the project, Hammond Electric’s prior experience working with GE Industrial Systems made it a natural choice for the job of replacing the switchgear. Through his planning, Hinkley was confident in the team and the role that Hammond Electric would play based on experience with GE Industrial on prior projects. An estimated 20 people were required onsite during the outage, including GE Industrial engineers, riggers, public service personnel, and the Hammond Electric team.

The project required an initial pre-work shutdown, which was completed in October. During this shutdown, Hammond Electric was able to fully scope every facet of the complex project, evaluate existing conditions, and determine all related materials required for a complete and successful installation. The pre-work shutdown also provided the insight needed to properly prepare for any unexpected problems that could arise. All components required for the weekend replacement, including materials, were procured well in advance to prevent any delays.

Detailed planning is critical for any project but especially important for a weekend job without access to supply houses and a tight window for completion. The facility had to be back up and running Sunday night, and ready for production on Monday morning, to prevent any loss of revenue. With no room for error or the option to extend the deadline, every nut, bolt and screw had to be accounted for to ensure the project was a success and completed Sunday evening. Paul Hammond led the challenging upfront planning effort, including the coordination of materials, and sequencing roles and responsibilities of the Hammond team members for the operation.

The weekend kicked off with a successful in-depth, 90-minute safety review in accordance with GE and Hammond Electric strict safety protocols, as well as OSHA guidelines, to prevent any unnecessary and avoidable incidents. The Hammond team then kicked into gear like a well-oiled machine, working together throughout the weekend with due diligence and a sense of purpose. With hourly monitoring of status, Paul Hammond was able to assess by dusk on Saturday evening that the project was on track for on-time completion. When the calls started to come in Sunday afternoon checking on how things were progressing, Hinkley was happy to report that the project was going as planned with no unexpected surprises. Hammond Electric successfully completed the installation of the new primary switchgear without a hitch, on time and within budget.


GE Industrial


GE Energy

The quality of work was fantastic. At GE, safety is paramount. Hammond Electric was required to adhere to GE's additional safety requirements and procedures, and they did so thoroughly, with ease and professionalism. Shutting down this facility is a big effort, and they not only did a great job, they had us back up and running ahead of schedule. It was an absolutely fantastic weekend.

John Hinkley
Project Lead, GE Energy Management

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