Poindexter Excavating Inc. faced a challenge — move 8 million cu. yds. (6.1 cu m) of dirt in nine months or less. At that pace, the Indianapolis-based company would need to move enough dirt to fill nearly 1,100 Goodyear blimps, or the equivalent of about four blimp-sized loads of dirt per day.
The second challenge was the construction of the $550 million Honda automobile plant in Greensburg, Ind. All eyes were focused on the massive project before it even began. It was coined “Honda Hysteria” by some in the area. Six months into the project, the Greensburg (Ind.) Daily News alone had published nearly 100 articles on the venture.
“It was such a big project,” said Ron Frick, vice president of Poindexter Transport & Crane Service, a branch of Poindexter Excavating. “It was one of the biggest dirt projects to ever be performed in Indiana, so it was a very high-profile job. And, everybody and their brother watched it real closely.”
The tract of land where Poindexter worked lies in Decatur County, about 50 mi. southeast of Indianapolis. The completed facility occupies 1,700 acres (687 ha) of land and accommodates 2,000 workers when operating at full capacity. To do this project, Poindexter was to construct seven water retention ponds, in addition to moving hundreds of thousands of tons of rock and dirt to prepare the site for building.
“We were running 24 hours a day, seven days a week to complete the job on schedule,” Frick said.
Besides needing to conduct operations around the clock, the September start date put the crew on the job just as hours of daylight were quickly beginning to slip away.
MacAllister Machinery Company, the Caterpillar dealership and rental company, has been operating in Indiana for more than 60 years. It provided Poindexter Excavating with about 40 Allmand light towers from three different manufacturers to light the expansive job site. Both companies quickly learned that all light towers are not created equal.
“You could really tell a difference between the Allmand lights and the others,” said Bill Woodward, rental territory manager with MacAllister. “There was no comparison on the brightness or how much illumination they were putting out there.”
The Allmand Night-Lite PRO light towers used on the site were equipped with Allmand’s SHO (super high output) 4-1250-watt lighting system.
Frick could tell the difference. “Very noticeable,” he said when asked about any perceivable differences among the three brands of towers. “I would say that the Allmand light plants were giving us probably 20 percent more coverage per light plant,” he said.
Additionally, the other towers were more difficult to set up and operate. Those were quickly removed from the site, and more Allmand towers were brought in.
“Once we figured out that we didn’t like what we were getting out of the other light towers, we switched,” Frick said.
As with anything in life, the company wanted to get the most bang for its buck, or in this case, the brightest beam for its buck.
“Poindexter decided they didn’t want to pay money for something that wasn’t performing as well. They found it was a better value to have all Allmand products on the site,” said Doug Dahlgren, Allmand project manager, who assisted in setup at the site.
In addition to Dahlgren, Woodward and Joe Hammond, also of MacAllister, spent two nights on the site to assist with the setup across the acreage. The towers were delivered 10 at a time, and Allmand’s flex-mount SHO fixtures allowed them to be transported with the lights installed without fear of damage, which saved setup time.
“Not knowing what we were doing, we could easily have had 10 or 15 more light plants to get the results that we did. Those guys helped us tremendously with how to do it,” Frick said of the three-person crew.
A dozen more towers would have added a significant amount of money to Poindexter’s project costs on top of the additional set-up, fuel and maintenance costs associated with the extra towers on the site.
The crew moved the towers and lamps to ensure the best light coverage of the area. With numerous haul trucks crisscrossing through the night between dozers, graders and excavators, safety was of utmost importance. A well-lit site prevents things that go bump in the night — or worse.
“They’ve got four individual lamps on them,” Woodward said, describing a tower, “so you turn all of the lamps in different directions. It was work, but it was fun. It’s neat to see.”
Dedicated in November 2008, the new auto plant now produces the popular Honda Civic sedan, and Honda plans to eventually transfer exclusive production of its natural gas powered vehicles to Greensburg. This project was a big endeavor for Poindexter, a company that began more than 30 years ago with just a handful of employees. Since then, the company has grown substantially, and it used about 60 workers on the Honda site at any given time, day or night — although it could be hard to tell which was which due to the light towers.
“I’ll just tell you,” Frick said, “on the Allmands, we’re happy with the serviceability we got on them. We got pretty good fuel economy without having any issues. They held up real well. No breakdowns. Other than just routine services, they did an excellent job.”
Throughout the early stages of construction, the companies learned both the simplicity and value of establishing a well-lit work site — it allows massive projects to be accomplished faster and safer, and thus less expensively, since crews can work around the clock without worry. Besides that, “it’s a pretty impressive site at night when it’s all lit up,” Frick said.