Partnering with DRG allows Consumers Energy to address a backlog of make ready engineering work safely and efficiently, for more satisfied clients and a more sustainable process.
CE brought on Davey Resource Group with a 5-year contract as part of a strategic partnership to help improve efficiency and since the partnership CE has seen record high volumes of workload.
DRG initially dispatched a team of 6 to handle application review, including assessment, design, quality control, and post construction inspection. The following approaches were used to ensure satisfactory completion of work in regards to both timeline and quality:
- Paperless Approach: Previous contractors on the project had utilized paper documentation. In an effort to improve efficiency and speed of workflow, DRG was determined to take the project paperless. On the internal side, DRG went paperless a few months into the project, and encouraged Consumers Energy to follow suit. As of December 3, 2018, the entire project was completely transitioned to paperless.
- Quality Control: Initially, CE targeted for a 10% or less pole rejection rate. Recognizing that improving this metric would improve overall efficiency and accelerate speed of operations, DRG took steps to decrease the percentage of rejected poles. To do this, the DRG team initiated an increased focus on quality, including biweekly quality control meetings with internal designers, biweekly meetings with CE, and weekly meetings with field staff.
- Training and Hiring: Due to increasing workload volume, the original team of 6 quickly grew to 25 then was soon expanded to 45+, and is expected to grow to between 50-55 in 2019. With the increase of work, DRG responded by continuing with hiring efforts. They also implemented an intensive training program. With a three week training period for field staff and three to six months for design staff, the training program is significantly longer than most in the industry, and places high emphasis on quality.
Partnering with DRG has allowed Consumers Energy to address the backlog of make-ready engineering work safely, while streamlining processes and providing a quality product to crews and the final client in a timely fashion.
The paperless approach has proven to save both time and resources. In addition to making the application process more efficient, it has eliminated the printing off and hand delivering of 40-50 project completion packets per week. Most clients find digital delivery more convenient, and it enables a more efficient updating process. Also, the reduction in paper waste is in line with CE’s own internal sustainability initiative.
DRG’s focus on quality control paid off. Pole rejection rates were consistently under target—so much so that CE revised its quality metrics from 10% to 5% pole rejection rate. As of December, 2018, DRG’s average in 2018 was 1.63%, with rejection rates hitting a low of 0.5% in October. This level of reduction of rejected poles streamlines efficiency and speeds the entire application process.
At the end of 2018, the project is on pace to have processed applications for 26,000 poles for the year—a 48% increase over the previous two years’ average. 2019 is expected to bring an additional 20% increase. DRG continues to be proactive in supplying needed workforce while maintaining an emphasis on efficiency and quality, as well as adapting readily to changing work requests and priorities.
Consumers Energy has expressed satisfaction with the work and with DRG’s approach, and has since awarded DRG additional work as a result. “The weekly meetings we have between your team and mine has laid the foundation for us to continue to achieve great milestones in the quality of our deliverable. Thank you for your continued efforts to make this a successful partnership between Consumers Energy and Davey Resource Group,” says Charlie Hatchard, CE’s Support and Contracted Design Lead in Jackson, MI.