GM Demolishes Plant in Lansing, Mich.

Mon April 23, 2007 - Midwest Edition
Lori Lovely



Due to the prohibitive cost of operating safely and in an environmentally friendly manner in two existing plants in Lansing, Mich., General Motors Corporation constructed two new facilities (the Grand River Assembly and Delta Township plants) to replace them. The new facilities are capable of producing vehicles more efficiently, economically and safely.

Now comes the job of demolishing, recycling and removing the two old plants — the Fisher Body Plant (Plant Six) and the Oldsmobile Plant (Plant One), located approximately 1.5 mi. (2.4 km) apart.

Plant One, situated on 77 acres (31 ha) adjacent to the new GM Grand River Assembly that replaces it, was built in 1906, with subsequent additions and improvements added through the early 1990s. It comprised 3,677,000 sq. ft. (341,604 sq m) of structure.

Plant Six, built in the late 1920s and measuring 3,345,000 sq. ft. (310,761 sq m), sat on 45 acres (18 ha) nearby.

MCM Tackles the Job

To accomplish the Herculean task, GM teamed with MCM Management Corporation out of Bloomfield Hills as the primary contractor. The agenda included removal and disposal of all asbestos-containing materials; removal of all contaminated and hazardous chemicals; disposal of all non-recyclable debris at a licensed landfill; crushing of all concrete material for reuse onsite as backfill for basements, pits and trenches; and industrial cleaning of the pits, conveyor, trenches and all equipment.

As a low-cost producer of industrial demolition and related services, MCM was a good choice for the job.

David Mardigan, MCM president, stated that MCM typically recycled between 92 and 97 percent of materials on GM projects. He anticipated recycling 94 and 96 percent of the two Lansing plants, by weight, per GM mandate. Because every truck or railcar load of material is weighed before it ships, MCM is able to record and calculate the data on recycling for precise numbers.

“Recycling of a majority of post-1910-era industrial projects, when measured by total weight of all building materials, to a point of about 85 percent can be done just about effortlessly,” Mardigan said. “By their nature, a large fraction of these plants are made of steel, aluminum and copper. Simply by demolishing the structure and sending the material to a buyer, the contractor is able to reach this level.”

Plant One also required demolition down to, but exclusive of, slabs on grade (basement floors), pits and trenches. Plant Six differed in that it required demolition of all structures, including slabs on grade and foundations.

After the work is completed, the site will be graded and seeded.

Project goals, said Mardigan, include creating and executing a plan to ensure worker and public safety; performing the work in a manner that protects and respects the environment and the community; working in compliance with all regulatory agencies; and employing methods that would make the project a cutting-edge showcase of safety, productivity and cost effectiveness.

MCM had plenty of experience in those areas. Despite heavy competition, Mardigan always believed there was a place for an integrated environmental, demolition and recycling contractor that specialized in high-speed, safe, quality demo operations in a schedule-sensitive format at a fixed price.

Formed in July 1993, the company focused on municipal and commercial demolition in the Michigan-Ohio area. Due to the explosive growth of big box retailers in the mid-1990s and the commercial building boom that followed in their wake, MCM expanded, with fast-track projects in 15 states and major clients such as The Home Depot and the City of Detroit.

Mardigan, a second-generation demo contractor following in the footsteps of his father Henry, continued to feed the company’s growth by reinvesting profits in order to expand his large fleet of machinery, attachments, trucks and tools.

During the nearly 10 years the company has been working with industrial environmental engineers, MCM managers had identified and addressed four major areas they believed were important to prospective industrial demolition clients but underserved by their suppliers: worker and public safety; maximization of scrap and salvage sales; integrity in contractual pricing and scheduling; and development and expansion of efficient recycling in order to conserve resources and reduce waste.

By concentrating on such issues, MCM has, in Mardigan’s words, forged a reputation for “demolition services without extra charges and time delays.”

Time and Labor

That reputation — as well as a 10-year history of working with GM — may have helped win the job. As a Tier I supplier to GM, MCM is obligated to perform to a specific standard. To maintain that standard, MCM has taken over many of the historically sub-contracted duties such as asbestos surveying, asbestos remediation, industrial cleaning, scrap brokerage and transportation of scrap to steel mills and other buyers.

“We resisted going vertical for a while,” Mardigan explained, “but price and quality of service finally left us no choice. We do purchase or hire trucking services to supplement ours, and also rent equipment and services from some subcontractors. These include Gibson Brothers Trucking, R&R Transport, RKA Fuels, Golden Refrigerant, K-Tek Environmental and Inland Waters Pollution Control.”

GM turned over the two plant sites to MCM in January 2006, after removing all assets needed by other GM plants. Asbestos and industrial cleaning began by February; demolition began in May. Mardigan estimated that demolition is progressing at approximately 460,000 sq. ft. (42,700 sq m) per month.

Work is on schedule, with an anticipated end date in May 2007. Work stoppages due to weather — ice, heavy lightening and snow — have cost the project only a few days of reduced productivity.

“Because our sites are very large and there are usually multiple structures. MCM runs a flex-work plan: if an unknown condition is discovered that requires demolition to stop in that area, crews are normally redirected on another area of the project. This allows the situation to be evaluated in a safe and controlled environment while production continues elsewhere. In some cases, there is not adequate space to redirect the demolition crews and perform the remedial work; in this situation, safety rules, and work is stopped,” Mardigan said.

The flexible schedule allowed crews to attempt to complete an area at Plant One before the originally scheduled completion date in order to allow the Grand River Assembly to use the land for material storage.

Most of the work was performed during a single day shift of 9 to 12 hours, depending upon hauling schedules of trucks and railroad operations. A crew of 6 to 10 people performs machine and shear repair, maintenance, lubrication and repairs on afternoon and night shifts.

MCM employs approximately 44 operators, two laborers and security, transport, clerical, and supervisory personnel. Each job is conducted under a supervisor and lead operating engineer. Mike Brehse supervised the mobilization and setup. Bob McNulty supervised the Plant One Project from February 2006 until March 2003. He has since transferred to Pontiac, Mich., to supervise startup of MCM’s operations at another GM site. Denise Brown is project manager for both Lansing Car Assembly Sites.

Parade of Machinery

There were approximately 58 machines working at the combined sites in Lansing. The laundry list included: a Cat 385C UHD ultra high demolition machine to demolish up to 150 ft. (45 m) above ground; a Volvo A40D articulated truck; 38 excavators equipped with LaBounty shears and grapples (Cat 375L, 350L, 345BL, 330BL, 320CL, 345MH, Volvo EC140, 330, 460BLC); 11 wheel loaders (Cat 988G, 988F II, 980G, 950G, Volvo 110E and 220E) equipped with Permberton, Rockland and Cat demolition and material handling buckets and foam-filled tires; and four articulated water trucks — a Cat D400D/Klein KT850 8,500 gal. (32,176 L), a Cat 725/Ground Force 6,000 gal. (27,712 L) tank and two Volvo A25C/Klein 5,000 gal. (18,927 L) tanks.

Specialty Equipment onsite included the LaBounty tools, a Lippmann 3062 portable jaw crusher, two Colmar balers and a 16-cylinder, 1,500 hp (1,118 kW) diesel electric Electromotive EMD GP7 locomotive to transfer railcars from the scrap loading dock to the gate area where NW crews pull onto NW track.

MCM met most of its own transportation needs, allowing it to tackle emergency orders with its special tools.

Mardigan estimated that 75 percent of its tools are mounted on excavators. Of the nearly 60 machines on the job site, approximately 90 percent had a non-traditional work tool on the end. The tools allowed the company to remove the building safely, rather than employ crew on the ground using cutting torches.

MCM had transformed manual demolition processes into mechanical operations, which not only contributed to MCM’s safety record, but also improved efficiency, according to Mardigan.

To maintain its safety record and meet standards, MCM used demolition shears, concrete demolition tools or pulverizers to take down the buildings. Ten concrete pulverizers helped take down the big plants with rerod, but also helped with processing materials at the crushing facility. Next, building materials were separated.

Approximately 50 pairs of shears were used to help take down the building and to cut large pieces of scrap for easier, more economical transport. Grapples, shears, magnets, and loose material buckets were mounted on excavators and wheel loaders.

The LaBounty shears ranged from MSD1000, which was fitted on a Cat 315 and a Cat 345 UHD, to an MSD9500, which cuts with more than 5,000,000 lbs. (2,267,961 kg) of force and weighs 40,000 lbs. (18,000 kg).

The LaBounty grapples could perform many functions, including demolition and sorting. Some were rotating grapples.

Grapples and shears were used to remove the steel, which was relayed to the steel mills. Balers also were used to process light steel. These machines sorted, processed and loaded scrap materials behind the demolition crews.

Grapples also loaded material onto MCM trucks for transport to landfills. Grapples and loader buckets placed sheet iron and other lightweight material in the baler.

“The same machines put the concrete in a pile and take the lower grade scrap, such as rerod, and put it in different piles for further processing,” Mardigan said.

The challenge was integrating the tools and the carrier machines properly. Compatibility between tools and carrier machines influenced his purchasing decisions, Mardigan indicated, because tools are difficult to match up to different manufacturer’s machines.

Without a universal coupler that meets safety requirements and works interchangeably with all manufacturers’ products, it was a time-consuming and frustrating process to match tool to machine, Mardigan said.

Most of the scrap steel was processed onsite for transport to the steel mills. Approximately 80 percent of the recycled scrap was delivered directly to steel mills and foundries. Non-ferrous metals such as copper, brass and stainless steel were processed onsite and sent to smelters or an off-site facility for processing.

The Lippmann 3062 jaw crushing plant and Cat 988G wheel loader crushed concrete and masonry debris on site, to be used as sized material for backfill of all below-grade voids. MCM’s Lippmann concrete crusher recycled 4,000 tons (3,600 t) per day. Some of the plastic and wood products also were being reused.

What could not be recycled or sold for scrap was delegated as waste. Often, materials like insulation and roofing were relegated to the waste bin because they were no longer viable. Typically, waste material constituted 2 to 5 percent of total materials.

With a cornucopia of specialty tools and equipment, MCM kept the demo work on the two plants rolling on as smoothly and efficiently as a factory, putting Mardigan on the road to meeting his goals of doing a safe, compliant, environmentally friendly, cutting-edge job for GM. CEG